What Are We Teaching About Friendship?
We all want to find friendships that are meaningful and fulfilling with like-minded people who share our interests and values. As parents, you want the same for your kids. But could you be sending the wrong message?
Sometimes we worry so much about just having friends (for ourselves and our loved ones) that we don’t stop to think emphasize the importance of quality friendships. I’m not talking about steering our youth away from obvious bad influences, but instead warning them about the less obvious toxic relationships that can be detrimental to self-confidence and overall happiness.
The term “frenemy” exists for a reason. Wikipedia states, “is a portmanteau of “friend” and “enemy” that can refer to either an enemy disguised as a friend or someone who’s both a friend and a rival.” I like Urban Dictionary’s definition better: “The type of “friend” whose words or actions bring you down (whether you realize it as intentional or not)…the person that will continue to bring you down until you demand better for yourself.”
While we can’t expect perfection from our friends, we also have to demand to be treated with kindness and respect. Friends should give us the benefit of the doubt instead of assuming the worst. They should make our joys higher and our lows easier. While they should push us to achieve more, they aren’t judgmental or mean-spirited. They tease without needling our weakest spots—which they are well aware of—but they also are quick to build us up and defend us.
My forthcoming novel, Couple Friends, chronicles a frenemy-ship from junior year of college to nearly the end of their twenties. As the friendship deteriorated, neither person would let go because, well, they’d been friends for a while and had a shared history. But just because someone is part of your past doesn’t mean they deserve to be part of your future, and I think this is an important lesson to remember and pass on.
You can can follow her on Twitter at @ShawndraRussell, and read her published work at www.shawndra-russell.com.
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