What Makes a Good Friend?
Friendships are such an important part of our lives. How might we help our children navigate and enhance their friendships?
If a child is concerned about making or keeping friends, adults can explain or give examples of some of the intricacies of friendship. If you had a great friend, share why your friendship was great. How did the two of you handle the ups and downs? How have your spiritual practices helped you be a good friend to others?
If the child is young, find some of the many available picture books about friendship for young children. Read them together and discuss.
I believe the active ingredients in friendship are kindness, patience, attention, acceptance of differences, being understanding, forgiveness, deep listening, and taking time to be together. Here are other points about friendship to consider or talk about:
- Friendship should balance talking with listening. Be sure to allow time for the other to speak or share. Remember to ask, “What do you think about that?” A good friend listens deeply.
- Considerate friends take turns to be in charge, to decide what to do, to go first.
- A good friend does not gossip or speak negatively about the other when the other is not around.
- Knowing how to apologize and how to forgive are important in a friendship.
- If a child seems to have difficulty making friends, consider finding an interest group they might join, or a youth group from your church or faith center. Also consider family: Some of the best friends I had through my school years were my cousins.
- When a dear friend moves away, it can affect a child deeply. Encourage the child to stay in touch with emails or calls—even handwritten letters—and to remember their friend on birthdays and holidays. Long-distance friendships can last a lifetime when they are nurtured. (You can model this by sending a card or note to one of your friends today! Show it to the child.)
As adults or children, we learn to create new and strengthen existing relationships by reaching out to others, being kind, listening, staying in touch, and by seeing others as the beloveds of God.
A Prayer for Our Children and Their Friendships
We are grateful for the understanding, kindness, and love in our family and in our friendships. We behold the unique beauty and wonderful personalities of our dear children. They are blessings to the world and loved by us and by God. We recognize their individuality and creativity. We see them navigating the joy and challenges of life as they grow and learn how to make friends and how to be one. We see them blessed with friendships and their friendships blessed. Amen.
A Shared Family Prayer for Friendship
As a family, we center ourselves in a prayer of love and gratitude for each other, thankful for our common interests and our unique differences. We send love from our hearts to our friends—individuals we are connected with here and now and those from the past or who live far away. As we pause and think of our friends, we each take a moment now to say their names out loud or silently.
We bless our friends. We are so grateful for our friendships and the blessings they bring us. Amen.