Danielle Bayard Jackson

Ladies, It’s Time To Fight For Your Friendships

A nationally recognized friendship coach and Tampa Bay resident spotlights female friendships in her new book.

Friends are good for the soul. We feel it, and research proves it. “The number one thing that determines our overall well-being and life satisfaction is the quality of our relationships,” says Danielle Bayard Jackson, citing a Harvard University study on happiness.

The former educator is now a friendship coach who focuses on women’s friendships. Her debut book, “Fighting For Our Friendships,” explains why these friendships are so deep, yet fragile, and provides tangible strategies to nurture, strengthen and make time for these relationships, even in the midst of mounting family and work responsibilities.

Once we get married and start to have children, many of us stop nurturing our female friendships. Why is it so important to hold on to these relationships?

The research tells us that women are often tasked with most of the domestic labor, which leaves them less time and energy to pour into their other relationships. But they need these relationships to feel safe, seen and supported in their lives.

How do you make time for friends when mom life is so busy?

Step number one is to enlist the help of your immediate family. Tell your partner and your family that it's important to you that you have time for friends because you're going to need their help to make it happen.

They need to make sure that they're watching the kids and taking on their fair share of domestic labor so that you're able to pour into your friendships. That helps to keep you accountable, and it makes them step up.

Step number two is to communicate it to your friends. Tell your friends you want more time together so that they can join you in being more intentional about carving out that space.

Step number three is to rethink what hangouts look like. Hangouts don't always look like hours-long brunches or late nights. Sometimes it looks like running errands together at Target or walking around the park while you catch up on each other's lives.

As a mother of two little ones (ages 5 and 2), what do you want to model for them as they start to make friends?

I want my kids to learn three things by watching me manage my friendships. One, I want them to learn how to navigate healthy conflict because it's inevitable. I want them to see me work through things with my friends, including expressing my boundaries or apologizing when I'm wrong.

Two, I want them to see me prioritize friendship, so they need to see me take time away to pour into my friendships and to see that I am more than just a mom.

Three, I want them to see me express kindness because I want my kids to be inviters, not excluders. I want them to be empathetic of others’ feelings. But they only get to see what that looks like if they watch me do it.

What’s the key takeaway from the book?

Friendship is so much more than a recreational pastime. It's about so much more than having people to go to brunch with.

Friendship is a wellness imperative and has a direct impact on our health and happiness. And I think once we begin prioritizing it the same way we do other relationships, the better we will all be for it.

Originally published in the April 2024 issue of Tampa Bay Parenting Magazine.