Friendship: Strengthening Women, Warming the World
Dr. Kathleen Lalande began the 2019 Annual Women’s Seminar with an overarching scientific definition of friendship, “friendship is a long-term positive relationship that requires cooperation.” This definition was an opening to an in-depth look at the different challenges to friendship versus the myriad of benefits that also come with this important aspect of our humanity.
Through personal testimony specifically as a mother and making the move from the United States to Canada and through professional experience and education, Dr. Kathleen Lalande unpacked the important research, elements, and tips for friendship as it specifically applies to women in the workplace, in school, or as mothers.
Dr. Kathleen Lalande is a therapist, professor, and researcher. She received her Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology from Columbia University in New York City in 2007 and is a registered psychologist in Ontario. She is a research fellow at the Heart Institute and a clinical supervisor at the University of Ottawa.
The 2019 Annual Women’s Seminar took place at John Paul II Catholic Secondary School in London and drew an audience of an estimated two hundred women; includes married and single women, mothers, professionals, and students. The seminar is meant to provide a forum of resources and learning for women of all walks of life.
Friendship is challenging work and despite all our best efforts most of us only have up to five close friends. Dr. Lalande provided four key tips to nurture and strengthen friendship:
- Pray for your friends
- Be there for your friends
- Reach out regularly (put it in the calendar)
- Listen first, save advice for later
Friendship can be a powerful tool for wellness and healing. “We need relationships outside of our family, they are equally if not more important for our long-term health.” Lalande highlighted loneliness as the opposite of friendship. This point strikes at a crucial day-to-day challenge in a world of instant communication and information. While it is so easy for us to connect over the airwaves and through social media, there are many souls yearning for a deeper connection that material methods cannot buy. In addition, Lalande cited an epidemiological study that identified “older adults who report feeling lonely have an increased risk of dying early, it increases by 26-50%.” The theory goes that people who are lacking good friends in their life are more likely to feel threatened, lonely, and anxious affecting their blood-pressure, diet, and heart rate leading to issues like hypertension and other heart diseases. The conclusion? Friendship is the antidote to loneliness.
Dr. Lalande concluded with the spiritual side of friendship, drawing attention to Jesus’ ministry while on earth and His relationship with His Disciples. “Right away He had to get some friends to help Him, He wasn’t going to be able to do that on His own.” She reminded all those present, “friendship is also necessary for the Gospel to come alive.”
The theme of “Friendship” was delivered with wonderful depth and insight from Dr. Kathleen Lalande. Through personal testimony, scientific research, and a spiritual foundation she delivered a robust seminar that provided encouragement and direction for women from all walks of life.