Those of you wanting your children to be a better friend, this is for you.
For many of us, friends are like our backup catcher when life throws us a curveball and we are not properly positioned to maneuver what is thrown our way. Until the dust settles, and we are outside of the situation looking in, those closest to us serve as our lifeline to navigate through the harsh realities of unexpected heartache. Interestingly enough, it is during these difficult times that we discover where we stand with those that claim, or that we perceive, to be our closest friends.
As parents, we teach our children all the time, intentionally and unintentionally. Sometimes we score a home run and other times it’s an epic strike out. We take the life lessons we learn and use them to prepare their little hearts and minds the best we know how.
Friendship is one of those areas that has the potential to make or break their young adult years so there is a lot that needs to be taught.
We don’t want them to hurt like we did learning these lessons the tough way. We try to shield them, don’t we? Time heals but we never forget the way someone made us feel.
Case in point: try to take yourself back mentally to the worst predicaments of your life. Was is a job loss, divorce, death, bad decision or even the eternal scar of betrayal? Remember how you felt and hang on to that for a moment.
Regardless if the emotion felt was devastation, fight or flight, righteous indignation, shame or guilt, what we experience during these moments is very REAL and highly INTENSE. It doesn’t matter if they are rational or not either…perception is our reality.
It’s in these valleys that we need our friends. But how can you really know if someone is on your team?
Several years ago, I learned one of the absolute WORST things to say to a friend. I mean, I suppose it’s okay to say it if you don’t value the relationship that much. After all, we can’t be everything to all people.
One of the most crushing things to communicate to someone that will most likely TANK your valued friendship is to cause a person to presume that you aren’t emotionally invested in the deepest, darkest trials they face.
It’s communicated verbally and even in actions alone.
NEVER say “I don’t want to get involved.”
This six word statement speaks volumes about a person’s worth to you:
You ask for help but get the response, “I don’t want to get involved.”
Immediately, you may be justifying the words if you have spoken them before. I know I did. I have said that to people when I thought it was a situation that I could do nothing about and didn’t have the emotional energy to invest in.
But guess what? Would you ever tell your closest loved ones that you “don’t want to get involved?” Would you say this to your child that has just gotten severely bullied, a spouse that just got slapped with a terminal diagnosis or a lifelong friend that has just discovered his/her spouse has been cheating? Heck no! You’d be ALL IN because you are too emotionally involved with that person to EVER consider uttering those words.
If someone in your inner circle ever says to you “I don’t want to get involved,” it clearly communicates several things.
1) There is an absence of loyalty to you and your situation.
2) Personal interest or public perception of the individual is more important than actually engaging in your time of need.
3) This person is your acquaintance…NOT your devoted friend.
Bottom line: If life has thrown you into the trenches then your real friends will be right there beside you and, by the way, that could even be in the form of tough love. Regardless, the investment is something that can be felt and seen.
Betrayal and disappointment can forever scar the heart, mind and soul if we allow it. Also, it’s something that we can’t completely protect our babies from forever. People are all flawed and we say and do things that wound one another. It hurts and is almost impossible to get over and let it go.
Although we can’t control how our children will be treated by others, we generally have their ear on how they should conduct themselves.
Loyalty is a trait that seems to be fading in our culture. As time ticks on, the bible is very clear that people will grow more and more selfish, becoming lovers of themselves.
As life lessons are generally learned under intense heartache, it seems fitting to teach our children how to react in those moments.
I want my children to be the kind of friends that don’t cause more harm to someone in a horrible place but to be loyal, wise and faithful in their relationships with those they care about.
To be wholeheartedly engaged and involved.
What are some other ways can we teach our kids about friendship??