“Age is just a number” is what they always say. But does it hold true in friendships? As I have grown as an adult, person, and woman over the last 15 years, I have obviously learned a lot about myself as an individual, as well as learning about the seasons of friendships. I remember getting my first real job post-college and finding myself making friends with colleagues that were 10 or even 20 years my age. My 22-year-old self wondered if this was normal. But what I didn’t realize is that it set me up for understanding the value of having friendships with people of all ages. Appreciating friendships of those individuals who are four or even ten years older than me is something I will continue to respect and value.
Kids are in Different Developmental Stages
Now, as a mom in my mid-thirties, a good amount of my friends have kids of their own. Many of those friends have kids that are 5+ years older than my own kids. When we get together, the stories we share are often new and exciting. Our kids are not in the same grade, sporting leagues, or even schools, so it allows us to have conversations without any feeling of competition or jealousy. It is entertaining to watch our kids play together, as their capabilities are always so vastly different. It allows us, as parents, to focus on each kid’s needs rather than it being a mass chaos get-together.
Playdates = Less Fighting
What happens when you put two toddlers in the same room? Well, usually, it consists of two moms following those two said toddlers around for a full two hours, unable to talk or finish a story. Kids that are the same age are going through the same developmental milestones, like sharing, so intervening, especially at a young age, is crucial to teach them how to deal with these social situations. When your friendship has an age gap, chances are the kids will naturally get along because they recognize their age differences, and they accept it to find an activity everyone can have fun with. It is actually mesmerizing to watch the activity be created in front of your eyes, and everyone finds their own role within it.
When your kids are going through different types of problems, there is a fresh perspective. I know nothing about raising teenagers, but I can provide a listening ear or a different view on the situation to provide a friend. The same goes for getting advice on my younger kids. Having a friend with parenting experience allows for advice to be given and empathy to be had because they have lived and survived it.
Taking kids out of the picture, having friendships with an age gap allows for new stories to be shared. Growing up in the 90s vs the 00s allows for different experiences to be shared. We often had similar interests (Hello, N’Sync), but we were experiencing them at different points in our lives, which usually makes for a few good laughs. You didn’t have the same adolescent or even college experiences, so sharing stories is new and exciting.
Maybe I’m an “old soul,” and I’m already aging like fine wine, but those friendships with an age gap will also hold a special place in my heart. Those ladies, you know who you are. Thank you for giving me the gift of your friendship.