Friends. You can’t stand them, but you also can’t live without them. Adults know exactly how important having friends is. What we don’t want to admit is how hey are capable of also crushing one’s dream, self-esteem, and trust in humanity.
Studies show that most teenagers are emotionally hurt by people who they thought were their friends. As parents, we want to keep our kids from this kind of hurt. But, at the same time, we don’t want them to grow up without feeling what good real friendship is supposed to bring.
There’s no stopping it completely. But, you can teach them how to choose their friends wisely. You can tell your kids about your past experiences, not to scare them but to help and guide them in making their decisions by choosing what’s really important.
I came across this beautiful article from For Every Mom about choosing friends, and there are a few I would like my own kids to know in the future.
Surround Yourself with Positive Friends
I’ve made bad choices when I was younger, and that includes choosing the right friends. It took quite a while for me to realize that I have surrounded myself with friends who can never see the brighter side of things. They were pessimistic, and it grew on me like cancer.
Your kids might not be able to fully understand the first few times you try to explain it to them, but when you get to that bridge, you’d have the right words to cross it.
Teaching them to choose positivity over negativity at an early age will help them immensely as they grow older. You’ll be glad you did, and they’ll thank you for it.
Surround Yourself with Accepting People
There’s nothing worse than not being accepted by the people you call friends. Whether it’s about coming out of the closet, skin color or disability, your child will expect to be accepted by her friends. Though there’s no way telling whether a person is accepting or not at an early stage, you can teach your child to be accepting. Teach her that the outside appearance is not as important as what’s inside. That’s where real beauty is.
Teach her that condemning a person hurt and is something she would not want to be done to her. If you teach your kids to be accepting, it sticks out like a sore thumb and people notice it. A person looking for acceptance will extend the same if they receive it from your child.
Acceptance is important when choosing friends, but it’s a two-way street. Give and you shall receive.
People who Respect Individuality are Gems
Aside from acceptance, it’s vital you teach your child to choose friends who respect a person’s individuality. In other words, a person who would not shove their opinions down her throat. Each person has a choice in making their own decision and one need friends who will give their opinion and respect whatever decision she makes.
Friend break-ups usually happen because of conflicting opinions. A true friend will feel dejected that she didn’t take his advice but will support her any way he can nonetheless. Of course, you should also teach your child how to listen to wise counsel and to extend the exact same respect towards her friends.
Find People Who Would Make an Effort
Friendship is a give and take relationship. There’s nothing worse than a one-sided friendship. I have had my fair share of this kind of friendship and it doesn’t hurt any less every time. There’s nothing more rejecting than your efforts to keep a friendship being unappreciated and unreciprocated.
Real friends do things for each other. Teach your child that a person who only establishes contact when they need something is most likely not a person to be friends with. It’s not about expecting something in return when you do something nice for a person, but a bit of effort and reciprocation from the other side helps keep the friendship growing and healthy.
Real Friends Go the Extra Mile
Sensitivity. That’s the word. Being sensitive of the feelings of your friends is one I would definitely teach my kids in being a friend and in choosing friends. A simple “I’m fine” or “I’m okay” should not be enough when you know in your gut something is going on.
Real friends go the extra mile. If the person does not want to open up about what’s bothering her just yet, making the extra effort to at least cheer her up makes a world of difference. It doesn’t take much effort, but sending a note or a text saying, “I’m here for you.” is more than enough to break walls. When a person knows you truly care, their walls come down.
Choosing Friends Mean Forgiving and Apologizing
Friends fight. There’s no avoiding that completely. But, every parent must teach their kids how to apologize and to forgive. Bearing grudges and being too proud to admit one’s wrong festers under and can destroy a budding relationship between friends.
There should always be room for humility and forgiveness no matter how grave the mistake is. At the same time, both parties should be willing to extend giving space to each other – no rush, only pure willingness to wait until the other is ready to talk and forgive.
Choosing Friends Who Make You a Better Person
This is one point I will always drill into my child’s system. I’ve had a fair share of ‘friends’ who did not help to make me a better person. In retrospect, I wasted so much time, tears and effort keeping friends like them. Real friends push you to become a better person. You’d want to achieve more, aim higher and become better altogether.
If you don’t see your child wanting to be more like her friends because of other reasons, you might to rethink their relationship and gently intervene. When they become teenagers, good influence is most important because that’s when they try to find their own identity. Having a solid group of friends who might steer your child away from the right path can make or break what happens in their near future.
Find Friends Who Disregard the Status Quo
If you’ve seen the movie Mean Girls, you know how toxic following the status quo can be. It’s very important you teach your children not to care about the status quo and just be their selves. Also, it’s equally important for your kids to have friends who share the same sentiments. Peer pressure drives people up the wall and your child being surrounded by friends who strive to live according to the SQ is nothing short of unhealthy.
Have Friends Who are Not Afraid to Tell You the Truth
Real friends stab each other in the front, as what most people say. Studies show that most people would rather be told of their fault straight to their face with respect instead of hearing it from someone else through the rumor mill.
Real friends point out what most people would lie about to spare your feelings getting hurt. They would tell you in a way you would understand. I recently had the same bout and am so thankful that she had the guts to tell me frankly without being judgemental or rude about it. Yes, I went through the angry and hurt phase, but at the end it opened my eyes.
Our kids need that kind of boldness. It may not be needed as young as they are, but when they grow older, they’ll learn to appreciate and understand it as much as we do.
Be All of These
Do unto others what you want others to do unto you. As plain and simple as that sounds, it takes a lot of guidance and patience to teach our kids to be the friends they want to find. Teach your child she can’t expect to have good friends if she herself is not one.
Remember, friendships are two-way streets. There always must be reciprocation otherwise the other side dies.
Woah. To be honest, this is quite a tender subject for me.
I’ve been hurt many times by people who I thought were my friends. I came to a point where I didn’t want to make an effort anymore. But, I’ll be damned if I don’t do my part to help spare my kids this kind of hurt. I may not be able to completely shield them from this kind of hurt, but at least I know I can teach them to be the friend they want to find.
These are the ten most important things I will teach my kids about choosing friends. How about you?
Is there something you’d like to add here? Let us know in a comment below!
featured image: healthy kids today