One of the reasons I founded the GaGa Sisterhood was to create a community of like-minded women who could meet each other and make new friends. Friendship has always been an essential part of my life. I’ve nurtured my friendships over the years and consider them the treasures of my life. But since I’ve become a grandma, I seem to have less time for my friends. Recently, one of our new members posted a question on our discussion board that generated many responses:
Are there other grandmothers who would like to expand their circle of friends? I am interested in movies, dinner, museums, walks, good conversation, and small explorations of the peninsula.
It’s Not Easy Finding Enough Time For Friends
As I followed the discussion, I wanted to join in but realized I barely have time for my old friends, let alone new ones. And my friends seem to be just as busy. Here’s an example of an email I received from a good friend. I asked her if she could talk to one of our members who’s daughter is going through a divorce.
Of course I’d be willing to talk to Linda—just not right now. Our life is CRAZY right now. Our son-in-law’s aunt and uncle are here from Sweden until Thursday. On Monday some former neighbors are coming to stay with us for two weeks. Tom’s (her husband) birthday is on the 18th and Father’s Day the 20th. AND, my favorite, of course, the kids and grandkids are on vacation for a week so we get both our granddog AND the dog they are watching for some friends, ALL WHILE THE OLD NEIGHBORS ARE HERE!!!!!
Another good friend I’ve known all my life wrote this email when I suggested a hike:
All of these exchanges got me thinking about the time we have for friendship and I discovered some discouraging statistics. A 2006 study from Duke University and the University of Arizona showed that Americans have almost one-third fewer confidants than they did in the 1980s, and that “ties are more family based.” Another disheartening statistic was that there are now twice as many people who report not having any close friends to share their problems with.
The Health Benefits of Friendships
Author and Wall Street Journal columnist Jeffrey Zaslow says, “A host of studies show that having a close group of friends helps women sleep better, improve their immune systems, stave off dementia and actually live longer.” He cites an Australian study that found women with more friends lived 22 percent longer than women with fewer friends.
Zaslow has become quite an authority on friendship. In 2003 he wrote a column on female friendship for The Wall Street Journal and knew that he’d touched a nerve when he received 300 letters and emails from women. He’d seen his daughters (now 13, 17 and 19) struggle with their friendships and knew how friendship can lead to great things. His column led to a book The Girls from Ames: A Story of Women and a Forty-Year Friendship published in 2009.
What he learned in studying these women is that people with stronger friendship networks feel like there is someone they can turn to. “Friendship is an undervalued resource. The consistent message of these studies is that friends make your life better.”