As Valentine’s Day approaches, everyone is thinking about that special someone or those friends that have never left your side. On this special day we celebrate love and friendship. Friendship is an interesting phenomenon. As human beings, we enjoy and sometimes feel the need to be social and have a group of friends where we can be ourselves. Research was conducted at London School of Economics to see what made people the happiest. Amazingly enough, when it came to finding out what group of people made these participants the happiest, “friends” was number one, increasing happiness by 8.2%. According to Mathew Lieberman, social psychologist and neuroscientist, interpersonal relationships are a crucial part of life. People are meant to be social and it is part of our nature.
What happens when all of the sudden these friendships do not seem to be as important as before? What happen to these bonds once we start having babies and focus on embracing our new journey: motherhood? Friendship dynamics DO change after having a baby. Our lives completely change and now a bundle of joy becomes our main priority and we start looking for other friends with the same age baby. However, we must remember that becoming a mother is an added personality. This addition comes with its challenges and rewards but mostly with NEW experiences. It does not mean we need to let go of our past relationships, especially our closest and dearest friends. As a matter of fact, this is the time where we need these friends the most.
Here are 5 tips on how to manage our friendships after a baby:
- Remember you are the same friend pre-baby. Keep in mind that we are the same person with added modifications. Just because we became mothers, does not mean we lost those caring characteristics that bond us to our friends. We continue to be that funny, caring, loving confidant. Embrace the changes with your friends just like you embraced other moments in life.
- Remember to be present and in the moment. Pay attention to what is right in front of you. Let your friend know that you are present and validate her feelings as you always did. Refrain from constant baby talk. Remember your friends do want to know how you and and your baby are, however it does not give us a green light to only talk about the baby. Remember to ask about her life and interests.
- Respect parenting diversity. Keep in mind that everyone has their own perspective on how things need to work. Just like religion and politics, parenting is a private matter. Respect when others do not agree with your style. Remember they are just perspectives not a personal attack nor a personality flaw.
- Stay Connected. Make intentional phone calls, texts or whatever form of communication is easier. Just remember to stay connected. Allow your friend to see your efforts despite the crazy schedule you just acquired. When visits are intentional, they are much more appreciated.
- Value their friendship, time and effort. After a baby, our world is upside down and at times we juggle so much we cannot even remember our last name at times. Take a moment and appreciate when a friend reaches out. Their time and effort matters. Be careful to not exclude them just because they are not parents yet. Let them know that you value your relationship as much as they do.
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AUTHOR: Mayeling Angelastro, MS, LMHC – has a Master’s of Science in Counseling Psychology and is an accomplished multi-cultural (speaks English, Espanol) Licensed Mental Health Counselor working with teens, young adults, depression, anxiety, maternal mental health and women empowerment issues in Winter Park and East Orlando Florida! For questions about Perinatal Mental Health call Mayeling Angelastro can be reached at (407) 248-0030.