Our childhood friendships are among the most formative relationships of our lives. They are tied up with our memories of laughing and crying, the rough and tumble, discovery and wonder. How we navigated those relationships has a strong bearing on all the relationships we have had since.
For an area of our lives that has such a powerful impact on our wellbeing and understanding of the world, we give it very little conscious thought. However, that is gradually changing. These days in schools we do talk about friendships and what healthy friendships look and feel like.
This manifesto has been created with the intent of providing a springboard so you too can intentionally talk to your children about what makes a healthy friendship. Knowing what healthy friendships are will help your children as they encounter the inevitable friendship bumps along the way.
I hope you find it useful. You can download a PDF version at the end of the article.
1. Friends are valuable but they are not possessions. I will not stop my friends from having other friends and I will always leave myself open to making new friends. New people can bring a whole lot of wonderful into our lives, without taking anything away from existing relationships. Love is not a limited resource.
2. I will support my friends as they grow and develop. I will not feel threatened or hold them back, I will cheer them on and celebrate their successes. I will also acknowledge and embrace the changes in my own life.
3. I will communicate clearly and honestly with my friends. They can’t read my mind and I can’t read theirs, so we will talk and listen openly. I understand that sometimes conversations will be uncomfortable and that’s okay.
4. My friends can have their own opinions, their own quirks and their own way of seeing the world, and so can I. Our differences are important. My friends and I are separate people and we need our own space to be ourselves. Friendships, where we are able to be our most authentic selves, are spectacular!
5. I understand that we all make mistakes. I will not throw away a friendship over one disagreement. If the friendship is a positive relationship overall, we will commit to communicating, healing and moving forward.
6. I am complete; I have all I need and so do my friends. Our friendship is a choice that brings joy and value to our lives. We are not dependent on one another for our happiness. I will be empathetic and supportive without taking responsibility for all of my friend’s feelings and problems.
7. Not everyone is my friend because friendship is special, and I get to choose my friends. However, everyone deserves respect and kindness. I will never flaunt my friendships in order to make someone else feel inferior or hurt.
8. I will not ridicule, gossip about, or undermine my friends. They deserve loving, caring behaviour. I will also try to stand up to other people who treat my friends badly.
9. If I ever feel as though one of my friends needs help or is in danger, I will take action. It may upset my friend, but their safety and wellbeing are worth more than anything. Sharing trust means more than keeping secrets. It means trusting friends to steer you in the right direction when problems arise.
10. I will be honest in my assessments of my friendships. A one-sided or unhealthy relationship is not good for me. I will ask myself:
- Do I like myself around this friend?
- Do we both make an effort to be empathetic and support one another?
- Am I able to be myself or am I having to pretend in order to make the friendship work?
“The only way to have a friend is to be one.”
– Ralph Waldo Emerson –
If you download the manifesto, you will also receive Linda’s fortnightly blog posts to help you navigate your child’s school days.