Today, August 4th is Friendship Day in the US. Friendship is about having fun together, having people you can turn to at any time, people you love to go places with, people who you can just hang out with and do absolutely nothing and it be a great time. Social media and technology like mobile phones have empowered us to build friendships with people around the world, not just those we went to school with or who live in our physical area. People with good friendships tend to be happier, healthier and more at peace with the world.
Friends are important because they’re relationships we choose to make. For some people they’re closer than family, either because someone doesn’t have family or they don’t feel comfortable with their family or their family aren’t people they want to be around. But like romantic relationships, we don’t always navigate them well when situations of change pop up in our lives. It’s one area that we haven’t done a great job with teaching the next generation, one that is easy in some ways to do better with, but in other ways it’s not so easy.
One of the best ways to teach the next generation is by showing them healthy friendships, which means having nights out with friends, getting together with other families and doing things with them, and making new friends so kids see the process. It’s also not so easy because it means you have to get out there and work on those relationships with friends and potential friends. We don’t always find we have time for everything, and to think about adding another thing to that list might be a bit overwhelming.
The “easier” way is by encouraging them to read books with friendships and watch movies and shows with friendships, to have play dates and hangouts with friends, to have birthday parties and attend them, and of course to talk about the friendships (and challenge with friendships) at school. Best of course would be to do both, teaching by example and encouraging their friendships.
Even when our friendships don’t last, they’re some of the most rewarding and positive memories and experiences, which makes them worth the effort we have to put into them. What have friendships that you’ve had and have seen taught you?