Finding Good Friends is about Being A Good Friend First

I had a row with a long-term kumare.

It was about some silly disagreement and I could not help but be affected. While doing house duties, my kids would catch me shed a tear every now and then. With much affection, they would put their little arms around me and say, “Mommy, everything will be fine, Tita-ninang is a good friend, she’ll come around.” And I agree! I asked them what makes them think their Tita-ninang in that light, they replied, “Because we know you’re a good friend to her.” Such wisdom among kids these days!

Out of the million lessons we will teach our kids, guiding them on how to become a good friend is an important one that will stick with them for the rest of their life. Being a friend can be very tricky. While it is impossible to be a “perfect friend”, it is still worth striving to be the very best friend you can be. 

I strongly believe that a good friend is a person of good character. Hence, as parents, our first step is to help our children develop strong and positive values that will help them become the kind of person worthy to be called a “good friend”. Today, let me share with you 5 important values that I want my children to learn so that they can build and nurture healthy friendships.

1. A strong friendship thrives in honesty. 
A healthy friendship is always anchored on mutual trust. And where there is truth, trust is also there. Hence, it is important for us to teach our children to always speak the truth even when it is difficult. Moreover, we should also remind them that being dishonest to a friend can eat away at the foundation of their friendship. Acknowledge your child whenever he or she tells the truth even when he or she is afraid to. Thank your child for not lying and give a reassuring hug to encourage honest behavior. In another note, be compassionate when you catch your children telling a lie. Gently help them realize the consequences of their actions and emphasize that you are correcting them out of love. 

2. Friendships need commitment and loyalty.
A loyal and faithful child is less likely to be a fair-weather friend. Loyalty inspires us to support our friends, not only in times of joy but also in times of trouble. Loyal friends are also those who try their best to be dependable regardless of the season and reason. If your child has siblings or cousins, you can teach loyalty by encouraging a caring relationship among them. Establishing strong and solid relationships within the family is a good way to train up our kids to be the kind of friend others can count on, no matter what.

3. Companions affirm each other through respect.
No two people are alike, and friends need to know that different doesn’t necessarily mean bad. Friendships are not about picking friends who are the same as we, but learning to understand and appreciate the uniqueness of others. We must keep in mind that our kids first learn about respect at home, so we should always be mindful of how we treat the people around us. Teaching our children how to appreciate people from all walks of life will prepare them to build all types of friendships throughout their lives.

4. A meek friend is able to handle arguments.
Humility, though often undermined, is one of the most essential friendship values we must teach our kids. Humility means being gracious and recognizing that the needs of others are as important as our own. It opens us up to growth, gratitude and love⏤the very same things that enable good friends to say “I’m sorry,” “Thank you,” and “I forgive you.” We can model humility by admitting our mistakes and making a sincere apology when it is called for.

5. Unconditional love is the foundation of friendship.
Perhaps love is the most important value among them all. People say that love comes from friendship but I personally believe that friendship can only come from love. Love in friendship brings many things: kindness, compassion, empathy and respect. It is the love in friendship that provides the fun times friends share, and it is also that same love that strengthens friendships when hardships arise. We are our children’s first source of love and it is this very same love that allows our kids to be men or women for others. Jesus said, “No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” By simply loving them, they realize that they are well capable of caring for and loving others. Never pass up on the chance to share your love and affection with your kids, so that they too can share this love through the friendships they’ll make.

These 5 values of friendship allow us to be bearers of a philosophy that emanates a spirit of encounter and authentic accompaniment. These dispose and move us to make sure our friends are okay despite challenges, and to not give up on them during their darkest hours. Being honest, loyal, respectful, humble, and loving fortifies our bond and gives us wisdom when to be serious or goofy, understand their boundaries, and choose to go the extra mile when they need help, whether they ask for it or not. (Suki Santos)

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