By Kendra Roehl
There’s nothing like writing a book on friendship to make you realize how often you’ve fallen short in some of your closest relationships. Instead of berating myself, I’m determined to do better.
When I observe my kids and their friends, I realize how much I want good friendships for them as they journey through life. Yet friendship skills aren’t something we all come by naturally. Where do we even begin to tell them about what’s important?
I decided to sit down and write out the five top things I want my kids to know so they can have great friendships throughout their lives. One evening around the dinner table we discussed these five habits and shared examples of times we’ve succeeded and failed in our friendships.
5 Friendship Habits I’m Teaching My Kids
- Believe the best.
We encounter many challenging circumstances throughout our lives, and unfortunately, some of those difficulties can ruin even the best of friendships. Thinking negatively about our friends without really knowing their motives and intentions can kill a friendship so quickly!
If our default is to believe the best about our friends, it will change our perspective on our friendships and how we approach our friends. (And, whenever we aren’t sure about another’s intentions, we can ask instead of trying to guess!)
- Be your friend’s biggest cheerleader.
Competition is all around us. Although that can be a good thing, we don’t need to be in competition with our friends.
There’s already enough negativity affecting how we feel about ourselves. That’s why being our friend’s cheerleader and being intentional to support their goals and dreams (just as they support yours) is so important.
- Forgive often.
No one is perfect. We all will have times when we need to forgive our friends and other times where we need to ask forgiveness for ourselves. Being in the habit of apologizing and accepting other people’s apologies is vital to long-lasting friendships.
- Be a trustworthy friend.
We all have seen or heard someone talk badly about another person behind their back. One of the most important traits of friendship is being a trustworthy friend. This means not cutting down, gossiping, or talking about your friend behind their back. Our friends will know they can depend on us if we are trustworthy.
- Love well.
When in doubt, love well. As often as you can, choose to act and speak from a place of love.
Friendships should be fun. Some of our favorite memories and life experiences will be ones we have with our friends. Yes, there will be challenges in friendship, but if we incorporate these five habits, they will help us keep our friendships for the long haul of life.
As Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 (NLT) reminds us:
We were made to have close friendships with others. The journey of life will be so much better with good friends. Learning what’s important to having healthy friendships early on in life will help us build strong friendships, ones that will last.
Wife Step: Talk with your spouse and kids about the qualities that make for good friends. What are some rules you come up with beyond the five listed above that are important for your family when it comes to navigating friendship?
Do it afraid. Kendra Roehl has sought to live out that advice as a social worker, foster parent, mother of five, public speaker and author. Kendra and her husband have become well-known advocates for foster care, taking in over 20 children in six years, and adopting three of them. She continues to care for others on their journeys as a frequent speaker, a founder of The Ruth Experience and an author of several books, including the One Year Daily Acts of Friendship: 365 Days to Finding, Keeping, and Loving Your Friends. You can find her on Instagram and Facebook @theruthexperience