I’ve been blessed to have some of the most wonderful friends a person could hope for. Coming from a very small family, friends were essential to my life at an early age from being my playmates to later, my confidants. I pretty much consider several of my close friends to be family now—that’s how important they are in my life. As my daughter starts to form friendships of her own, and comes home from preschool with tails of “Emma isn’t speaking to me today!”, or “Jack wouldn’t play with me!”, I realized that it’s time for me to start teaching my daughter how to be a good friend, so that she might be lucky enough to enjoy some wonderful friendships in her life too.
Everyone wants to be heard. Listening to your friends and asking them questions about themselves is just as important as you telling your friend all of your news and woes. Listening is essential to ensuring your friendship works both ways.
We all make mistakes, say things we don’t mean and do stupid things. Often it’s not intentional, it’s just a momentary lack of judgement that is regretted straight away. Accept an apology with grace and don’t hold a grudge—a good friend is worth more than a few slip ups.
Don’t take it personally
It can feel very personal when you’re not invited to a party or a movie outing. Maybe the lack of invitation was deliberate, but you don’t know the reason why. With a party, maybe they were only allowed a few friends, or, with a movie date, it might be that your friend just wanted to spend time with another friend one-on-one. What’s important to remember is that it’s nothing to do with you, it’s likely you have done nothing wrong, so please don’t beat yourself up over it.
You can’t be friends with everyone
Just like you don’t want to be friends with every single person that you meet, the same will be for how people feel about you. Sometimes, you’ll really want someone to be your friend and they won’t be interested—and it will be really upsetting. Try not to take it personally, because it’s nothing to do with you. People like and don’t like people often for no fathomable reason. You can’t force a friendship, so if someone doesn’t want to be your friend, remind yourself that it’s their loss and move on.
This is something you should remember with everyone you encounter in life and especially with those you care about. Don’t laugh at a friend when they fall over or do something embarrassing in front of others. Be a shoulder for friends to cry on when they’re sad and pick them up when they fall down. If you’re kind to other people they will, in turn, be kind to you.
If your friend tells you something personal, regardless of whether they said it was a secret or not, keep it to yourself. Absolutely never spread rumors or comment on silly gossip. Never, ever talk about a friend behind his/her back. A good rule is: if you wouldn’t say it to their face, don’t say it—period. If you’re known to be a loyal friend, your friends will behave the same way towards you.
Some friendships go sour. People change and so do their friendship needs. Know when a friendship is over and acknowledge the good times you had, while focussing on your real friends who are going to last.
This article first appeared on MommyNearest.
Christine is the editor of Adventure, Baby!