Being a parent is one of the most fulfilling roles a person can have in life. Raising children brings so many moments of gratitude, joy, and sweetness, like cradling a sleepy baby in the morning, seeing the child commit an act of kindness, and hearing the little one say “I love you.” There are so many highlights in a parent’s life and moments to be treasured forever.
It’s also hard, and often thankless, work. For every smile, there’s a tantrum and a bout of tears. For every cute act, there’s a child flushing the parent’s phone down the toilet, refusing to eat anything other than ice cream, and resisting bedtime. There are many moments of frustration and parents struggling to keep their voices below shouting.
With days full of taking care of the little ones, being a parent can become lonely, which can impact a person’s mental health. Fortunately, there’s an easy solution for this: a fellow parent friend and venting partner.
The Benefits of a Vent Buddy
A “vent buddy” is the person to rant to about stressful situations that arise with parenting, anything from large issues to the almost insignificant. Not only will venting improve a parent’s mental health, it’s beneficial for their children’s brain development as well.
A study from 2009 found that talking about stressors is a common coping mechanism and it is actually effective. However, they also found that if the person listening to the rant doesn’t have empathy, it can increase the stress. This comes to show that venting is a fine art. It’s not all about the rant; it’s also about who is listening.
The study brings up another perk about venting buddies: they help prevent feelings of loneliness, especially at times where a person in a tough place only needs a person to listen. That is the key here. A venting buddy is not a therapist to solve the other buddy’s problems. She’s supposed to hear out her friend and offer empathetic support. 
That’s not to say that she shouldn’t give advice. Often, it’s necessary and wanted, especially if the buddy has only her friend’s interest at heart. Just be sure the buddy is open to guidance. Sometimes a good, teary rant could help the talker come to her own conclusion.
Being a Good Venting Buddy
On the other side, being on the listening end is beneficial too. It can increase a person’s empathy since it causes them to view the situation from the friend’s shoes. It’s important for a parent to be as supportive of her buddy as she wants the buddy to be for her. The listening, support, and encouragement has to go both ways!
Listening is not a passive action as some people believe. They may tune out people speaking, listening only partially to what they are saying, but they are essentially waiting for them to finish so they could talk again.
Listening is showing the other person they are being heard by:
- Facing the person
- Sitting or standing in a relaxed, non-aggressive posture
- Leaning toward the person
- Maintaining eye contact
Over the phone, this means making occasional exclamations or sounds to show active listening.
Instead of saying things like, “it’s not that bad,” “it could be worse,” or playing the “I have it worse” card, use phrases that show empathy like “I am sad that happened to you,” “I wish that I could change this,” or “I’m here for you.” 
The key to having a good venting buddy is being one.
Benefits for Children
Having healthy and meaningful friendships in your life displays good behavior for your children and encourages them to seek similar relationships in their own lives.
Another study has shown that having a close circle of friends helps a new mother to reduce stress. A calm mother is associated with a child’s improved cognitive development. It’s been proven that the social environment of an infant can play a critical role in their emotional, intellectual, and social growth, and can affect their abilities to adapt in future situations. Mothers are such a strong and dominant figure in a baby’s’ life and their bond and her influences can make a big difference in their development. 
So, if you don’t have a venting buddy yet, get on it! Once you start, you won’t know how you survived without one. If you do already have one or several, give your buddies a call and thank them. Science has proven their value — as if that needed proof. 
- “Emotion Elicits the Social Sharing of Emotion: Theory and Empirical Review.” Research Gate. Bernard Rimé. January 2009.
- “The Psychology of Venting.” Thought Hub. Charity Kurz, Ph.D. March 16, 2017.
- “Association of Maternal Social Relationships With Cognitive Development in Early Childhood.” JAMA Network. Eun Kyong Shin, PhD., et al. January 11, 2019.
- “Having Someone To Bitch With Is Important For Your Health.” Scary Mommy. Leah Groth. September 9, 2019.