The Brain Needs Friends to Thrive

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“The brain craves community,” exhorted  Dr. John Medina, New York Times best-selling author of Brain Rules. He pleaded passionately last week to a lunchtime crowd of young parents that humans were not intended to live in isolation and that we could not survive, yet alone thrive without affectionate relationships.

Yet almost nothing is more isolating for young mothers than raising children.  Mothers need social connections.

Dr. Medina stated his case that parenting is a relational enterprise at a gathering of Seattle-based PEPS (Program for Early Parent Support group) From the organization’s website, the “primary focus is on bringing together communities of parents for mutual support and social connections.” The demand for work and services provided by PEPS currently exceeds availability.

In our Jan. 17 blog, “Good Friends Keep Us Healthy,” Linda discussed the mental and physical  benefits of friendships.  Whether it is the release of the calming hormone, Oxytocin, or simply the increase in our longevity, the evidence continues to build that live, human interaction is critical to our well-being.

Another PEPS luncheon speaker, Tina Eide, expanded, “The meaning of life is the ability to build connections in a huge world.”  Eide’s shared how close bonds with girlfriends were a lifesaver and lifeline for her when she became a single parent.  Friends supported her when she left an abusive relationship by providing childcare, meals and emotional support. Her speech was moving and from the heart.

The PEPS website is filled with testimonials about how the group has been invaluable to many women. “PEPS gave me support, encouragement, a shoulder to cry on and people to share the little tiny wonders of my son that only another mom could enjoy. Most importantly though, PEPS gave me a place to feel safe when I was questioning everything I was doing and friends that, no matter how old my kids get, I will remember forever.”  –  Allison Jones, PEPS Group Participant.

It is indisputable that women, regardless of whether or not they are moms, need a network of relationships with people who can provide emotional support.

Our upcoming book will explain why girlfriend relationships are vital to women’s health, what prevents busy moms from nurturing those relationships and how women can reintegrate friendship time into their busy lives.


Carol Lewis Gullstad

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