A friend loves at all times. Proverbs 17:17
C.S. Lewis, in The Four Loves, says that friendship is the most rare and difficult of the four loves. He lists the types of love as friendship, affection (as for a family member), romantic love, and charity (love for and from God).
Out of all those loves, why is friendship the hardest to come by and most difficult to maintain? As a mom and a child, your affection for each other comes fairly naturally. Romantic love? How many times did you think you were in love as a teen? God loves us without any effort on our part. But friendship is an effort! It is a love of choice.
C.S. Lewis goes on to say that a shared activity makes you companions. That is where many of our friendships begin. That is where kids start friendships. But if friendships never go beyond shared activity, as soon as they grow out of that activity, the friendship dissolves. So when interests change, usually as soon as puberty hits, a kid can suddenly find herself alone just when she desires friendship the most. Friendship starts when you care about the same truth.
Caring about the same truths can also mean learning about a different angle of the same truth. That is why it is so important to model friendship with different backgrounds for your kids. If everyone agrees with you all the time, you are not equipping them for real life.
God’s vision for heaven in Revelation 7: 9 is that a great multitude from every tongue, tribe, and nation are worshipping, fellowshipping, and enjoying paradise together for all of eternity. This is perfection. This is God’s design for friendship. Look around your neighborhood, your school, your city, your sports teams, and your church. Do your friends and your children’s friendships reflect the community God has placed you in?
Our communities include many children with special needs. Do your children think to include children with disabilities in their birthday parties and group activities? These kids do not want to be someone’s special project out of pity, but they do want to be included. Help your kids get past their fears of others who are different.
Family Life has a great acronym for friends that I use with my kids. I take these 7 qualities of a good friend and ask my kids to evaluate their three closest friends using those qualities. Those diagnostic questions help them evaluate their relationships for themselves, a necessary life skill! Ask how they can pray for their friends – and their enemies. Join them in these prayers. Remind them that mean girls and guys who use hurtful sarcasm are motivated by insecurity and pride.
Then I ask them to evaluate themselves as a friend, using the same list. Did your friends make a wise choice in choosing you for a friend? Is your kid the mean girl? The excluder? If so, memorize Proverbs 17:17 together. Does your son have the courage to speak up if a friend is being bullied? Encourage your child to be a blessing to their friends. Then evaluate yourself, mom!
F: fight for you
R: respect you
I: include you
E: encourage you
N: never give up on you
D: do the right thing
S: stand by you
From Passport 2 Identity by Family Life
Mean Girls by Haley Di Marco
Aggressive Girls, Clueless Boys by David Boehi and Dennis Rainey
Confessions of a Boy-Crazy Girl by Paula Hendricks
A Girl’s Guide to Best Friends and Mean Girls (Secret Keeper Girl Series) by Dannah Gresh
Piecing Me Together by Renee Watson (novel)
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