Friendships on military bases
There are pockets of the US, however, that have long maintained the tradition of neighborhood-based friendship. In new, yet-to-be-published research, my colleagues and I found children living on military installations were more likely to form their friendships within their neighborhoods than their civilian peers, with 37% of military-affiliated children forming their friendships in this setting as opposed to only 25% of civilian children.
We hypothesized that for military families, the close proximity of neighbors, the similarity created by their shared mission and the inherent sense of camaraderie involved in military service created a foundation for friendship formation. We observed the physical characteristics of their neighborhoods often include cul-de-sacs, swimming pools and recreation centers that promoted children’s interaction and also allow parents to feel a greater sense of community and safety.
The summer of 2020
These approaches may allow children to ride out this crisis and, in the process, possibly revive the American neighborhood and revitalize the benefits of friendship that are found within it.
Julie Wargo Aikins is associate professor of psychiatry and behavioral neurosciences, Merrill Palmer Skillman Institute, Wayne State University. Disclosure: Aikins received funding relevant to her work on military families from the Congressionally Directed Medical Research Program.