Who are your lifelong friends? Welcome to the What Could Go Right? podcast where we talk about personal growth, family connection, and raising adult children. I am Erik Orton. I'm Emily Orton. We are the parents of five children who have either launched or are launching. And we want to help you in this exciting and sometimes complicated phase of Life of raising and parenting adult kids.
0:26 Emily Did Not See Adult Friendship Modeled
So okay, today we're going to talk about lifelong friends. Lifelong friends. All right. Take it away. I didn't see this modeled for me. As a kid, I had friends. I always had friends. But I noticed that my parents didn't seem to have friends. They were super nice - always willing to help anyone, serve anyone, take food somewhere. But it was pretty rare for us to have somebody come over for dinner. Or for us - I mean we were a family of eight so it was pretty rare for us to get invited somewhere - for dinner if we were not related to that person. And so as we got married, we had our small children and we moved to New York City I was overwhelmed as new to marriage. New to Motherhood. New to the urban life. I felt a little bit lonely and
I realized as I started wanting to reach out and make connections. And I could have conversations that I hadn't ever seen really modeled for me what adult friendships look like. If my parents were running friendships then it was out of like my sight. Maybe they had phone calls or maybe they got together after work or when I was at school. Well, they definitely weren't texting but I just didn't see it. And I felt like this gap in my skill set. And I wasn't sure what to do.
1:58 Erik Did See Adult Friendships Modeled
But then I would hear the stories about your family. Your parents did it in a really different way. Yeah, I grew up...one of my first memories of long-time friends was we were moving back from Germany to the DC area because my dad had been stationed in Germany for a while. And we went straight from the airport to the home of this family that my parents had been friends with since they were newlyweds. And they had one of the things that was nice was they had kids that were the same ages and the same gender as us and so everybody had a buddy to be with. And we went straight to the house and stayed with them before we even went to our own home. And we got together over the years for Super Bowl parties, dinners, and holidays. You know, just on the regular. and are still in touch with them to this day - my parents are. And as am I. And even my mom especially has friends from her childhood in Finland that she is still in touch with and gets together with. And so I felt fortunate to see a lot of this happening and didn't realize that it was something new for you. And we've done it our own way and we're going to talk a little bit
3:09 No Right or Wrong - How We Grow Life-long Friendships
about that. But there's no right or wrong way but if you want to have adult friends or if you want to have long lifelong friends it doesn't happen by accident. Yeah, so I remember one weekend after which I thought oh this is very familiar to me because anytime we were going to take a trip the trip was always to visit and stay with our blood relatives like aunts and uncles grandparents cousins. So fun, so good, and that I was very familiar with but they were talking about getting together with their friends. Like your mom so goes walking with one of her best friends every morning or like regularly. Yeah. And and I was so struck by that and I remember having this conversation with you where I said - we realized together we decided together - if we want to have lifelong friends we're gonna have to start now. And at that time we were in our early 20s or mid-20s. Start now and then keep making time or putting resource into friendship, whatever that resource may be. Maybe we didn't, couldn't always afford to travel but we could stay in touch in other ways and then when it was time to travel we would make sure that we were going to see friends also. We're just like who do we want? We're inviting them to travel with us. Inviting them to come to our house. I mean it wasn't just big distance things it would be like getting together. And so with that deliberately in mind - that we wanted to have lifelong friendships - as we would you know make those connections with people. And we would continue putting energy into it over time even after we weren't in the same place anymore.
4:57 Adult Friendships in NYC
Some beautiful things really started happening that like I hadn't seen growing up. But in New York City we live so close to our friends everyone was within walking distance and everyone was willing to walk a little further than in maybe some other places. Like, 'Yeah, I'll walk 25 minutes to your house um pushing a stroller and three kids walking behind me.' But it was like all these doors opened up to us and we lived kind of in each other's homes and we met at the park regularly and we took turns making dinner for each other's families.
5:27 Built This Beautiful Community
And built this beautiful community. And it's been such a benefit to me and it's also been a benefit to our kids. And I think this all came home to us. Yes, pun intended. Yeah, last was, the last week when we had a big get-together here at our new home in Salt Lake where um we had three or four but multiple families from our time in New York. Yeah, they're like 30 people here, right? But coming from England. Coming from New Zealand. Coming from Arizona. Coming from also from nearby and so but those of us we felt close enough and comfortable enough to want to make the effort to gather. And Emily wrote an email about this and you know we have some great pictures where our place is just jammed with people like little kids clustered over here playing the board game. And people out in the backyard with some chairs just sitting in a circle talking. Somebody's making sandwiches in the kitchen. Somebody's upstairs taking a nap. Just kind of this pile-in where everybody feels comfortable.
6:40 Growing Up Together
The kids are all growing, they're growing up together. We're seeing the kids grow up and so in some ways, we're kind of these honorary aunts and uncle and their honorary nephews nieces, and cousins to each other. And I feel it. I feel the power and the strength that comes from those relationships. And I'm really grateful that 20 years ago - 20 plus years ago. Yeah, yeah we were conscious of that need. And I guess I'll
7:09 It’s Not Too Late
say this, if you're in a situation where you have lifelong friends and you continue to cultivate them. If you have not had lifelong friends, yet, it's never too late to start. It's like planting a tree. You know the best time to plant a tree was 10 years ago. The next best time is today. So you can always start friendships and especially you know if you're further along in life and you already have adult kids chances are there are plenty of people that you cross paths with that you can reconnect with. That you can resume conversations and kind of like uh you have you have a history that you can draw and to be a foundation for a revived friendship. and there's a physics that I would submit that this is really worth the effort and the time that
7:56 Friendship and Healthspan
it might take. One is that it's amazing for you and all the studies that I'm seeing coming out on like vitality and longevity you know healthspan not just lifespan, are relating more and more to the relationships that we have cultivated and maintained. That's what gives us you know better mental health and joy in life and desires to keep being excited about the future. So there's that. And then I just I come across some depressing studies recently and you can know for yourself or by your own, you know, anecdotal experience. But most people are lonely. That's the bottom line and it doesn't have to be that way. There are so many people that we do not have to be lonely. And one that I wasn't really imagining when we first started talking about it but it's created a deep bench for our kids. So not only do we have that support system where there's a give and take. Like we receive and we also give and share but it
9:10 Benefits to the Next Generation
has filtered down to the next generation as well. All those kids are connected and our kids see us prioritizing friendships and it gives them hope and a good example for the future of what it does look like. And, in fact, when we were in New York City one of our friends was moving away. We happen to now live much closer to this friend but we didn't know that would ever happen. And we gathered for a farewell party. And all the women were gathered and you know we were sharing delicious food and memories and encouragement and hugs and tears. And my daughter stopped by - she was like 17 at the time - and as we walked home she was like, 'I'm so glad that I got to see this. I'm so glad that you're doing this. And I'm really happy to have this example to see what a group of supportive women getting together can look like.' So what this is,
10:10 Double Return Parenting
you know, one of the things we call Double Return Parenting. Yeah, and the reason we'll talk about Double Return Parenting often - and this is just one example of it - but double return parenting implies two benefits. The first benefit is that you get/you get as a parent. If you have lifelong friends that's a benefit for all the reasons that Emily has described. And the second benefit is that you modeled for your kids and they have a better sense of how to go about it and bring that experience into their own lives and it benefits them. That's the second one. So the great thing about it is that we as parents are getting something that is actually really good for us and we like. And it helps our kids. And it ripples out into future generations. So it's at least Double Return Parenting and possibly more. So I love that. I think that is a perfect example of what could go right. what could go right? Hey, thanks for listening to this episode. I want to make sure that you know that we do not advertise on this and so the only way that people find out about this podcast is through word of mouth so please give us some stars on a rating, review it, share it with somebody that you think this might help out. We would really appreciate that. And also if you haven't already, please do sign up for a free mini-session with me and Emily. Just go to theawesomefactory.nyc/strategy session and you can snag 30 minutes where we can sit with you. And we want to hear your goals, hopes, dreams, the things that you want for you, your marriage, your family.
We want to help you discover what's possible in your life. So thanks so much for joining us.