"But, Viking Mom! She's my friend!"
"Sweetheart, friends don't hurt thier friends or say unkind words to their friends."
But, Viking Mom, she always says those things."
"Sweetheart, true BFFs do not play around with words like, 'if you don't do this I won't be your friend.' That is mean and unkind."
Raise your hand if you have had similar conversations with your children?
I was completely flabbergasted when Viking Lady Bug came home in tears one day telling me that her "friend" won't be her friend if she wasn't invited to her birthday part. This particular girl has a routine of walking up to classmates and bullying them into being their friends.
I am not sure if I handled the situation with my daughter correctly. My mind went into protection mode. This being the month of National Bullying Prevention Month I have been reading a several inspirational stories about how students and adults have overcome bullying situations. A current theme in all of these stories was the power of friendship.
We take it for granite the friends we have in our lives. But, what is a friend?
According to Wikipedia:
"Friendship is a relationship between two people who hold mutual affection for each other. Friendships and acquaintanceship are thought of as spanning across the same continuum. The study of friendship is included in the fields of sociology, social psychology, anthropology, philosophy, and zoology. Various academic theories of friendship have been proposed, including social exchange theory, equity theory, relational dialectics, and attachment styles.
The value of friendship is often the result of friends consistently demonstrating the following:
- The tendency to desire what is best for the other
- Sympathy and empathy
- Honesty, even in situations where it may be difficult for others to speak the truth
- Mutual understanding and compassion; ability to go to each other for emotional support
- Enjoyment of each other's company
- Trust in one another
- Positively strong, deep, close reciprocity, mutuality — equal give-and-take between the two parties
- The ability to be oneself, express one's feelings and make mistakes without fear of judgement"
This definition seems so clinical but in honesty these are qualities of a good friend.
In my classroom I have worked with Autistic students about the qualities of a good friend. We have discussed what a toxic friend is and how that is a form of bullying. One of my students coined the phrase, "Energy Vampires." These "friends" suck the energy out of someone without taking the time to reciprocate the emotions or energies.
In one of the Inspirational stories I read on the Pacer's National Bullying Prevention Month a young survivor of bullying credits his solid friendship with his friend for helping him struggle through the emotional roller coaster of the incident.
Now, that is a sign of a true friend.