Having Mom Friends is Good for You and Your Kid, Study Says
It takes a village, and having a strong tribe could improve your child's test scores.
When you are in the trenches of motherhood, having mom friends is key to survival. You need to have friends who will watch your kids when you have a doctor’s appointment, a friend to call when you’re questioning your parenting choices and sanity, and of course, mom friends who will plan a girls’ night out when you need it the most. Turns out, scientists agree that mom friends are not only essential to your happiness, but to your children’s development as well.
According to a new study, children benefit from their mothers building strong social connections. The study found that the more social connections a mother has, the higher her kids will tend to score on early cognitive development tests. However, if the mother doesn’t have a strong network of friends, her kids will averagely score lower.
For the study, researchers looked at over 1,000 moms and their children. The moms were asked about family structure, friendships and relationships in their communities. The mothers also shared results from cognitive tests their children took when they were 2 years-old. What researchers found was that moms have an average of 3.5 friends in their social support networks, and those with more friends have children who scored higher on cognitive tests than their counterparts. So, shout-out to our 3.5 friends and let’s all head to the playground to find a few more moms to have on our team.
“Outside the family context, mothers with larger social networks may be able to draw on resources from those networks that alleviate some of the burdens associated with parenting,” study co-author Kaja LeWinn, told Reuters. “This may include emotional support, tangible support in the form of babysitting or help with errands, and the transfer of knowledge around high-quality daycare or other childhood programs.”
So not only are moms getting help and support, but her kids are too.
“These resources may reduce parenting stress and improve maternal mental health, both of which are positively associated with child cognitive development,” LeWinn said.
While this sounds great and we know that we need more time with our friends – or time to actually find and make mom friends – this can seem like a daunting task. With everything we are balancing in our day-to-day, does this mean we need to rush out and find as many friends as possible? No, but it is a good reminder to take a little time for ourselves and our friends.
Make it a priority to call that one friend you can pour your heart out to without fear of judgement. Be open to some new mom friendships when picking your kids up from school. Go ahead and accept those invitations from other moms that you may have been turning down. Plan that playdate and the next girls’ night out because it’s good for you and your little one.