The Encyclopedia Britannica defines friendship as a state of enduring affection, esteem, and trust between two people.  In all cultures, friendships are important relationships throughout a person’s life. 

Epicurus opined, “Of all the things which wisdom provides to make us entirely happy, much the greatest is the possession of friendship.”

Our first friends are usually siblings or cousins with whom we spend time.  These relationships teach us lessons about friendship and help us to recognize the characteristics we value.  This influences the formation of future friendships.

When we begin our educational journey, we also begin interaction with our peers.  These interactions lead to the formation of friendships.  Some friendships last for a season, others for a lifetime. 

As we mature and grow our friendships often change, because we are continually learning and forming new opinions and recognizing values that are truly important to us. 

Many friendships end due to time, distance, changing situations, and simply having different ideas that are no longer compatible. Some friendships do last a lifetime. 

Helping our children understand the give and take nature of friendship is a valuable lesson - a lesson that will be used throughout their lifetime.

I have alluded to my own educational experiences in this commentary.  Making friends was something I learned at an early age.  My brother Alan was, and still is, my closest friend. 

Because we moved so often when we were kids, we had been in seven schools by the time we were in seventh grade.  We had other friends, but we were the constant in each other’s lives.  I was blessed that no matter where we were I always had my best friend with me.

As we grew older, we branched out and made new friendships.  Those relationships have come and gone, but I have never forgotten the love and support of my friends.  I’m not sure that I truly appreciated the importance of friendship then, but as I find myself aging I cherish each and every one.

I recently had coffee with a new friend who knows many of the friends I had in high school.  It was so good to share memories - to laugh about some of our antics, to remember those no longer with us.  I have been richly blessed with good friends. 

School is where many friendships begin.  It is important that we help our children to learn the importance of being a good friend and what that entails.  Friendship should be encouraged and modeled. 

Kids do imitate what they see.  Think about your friends and what they mean in your life.  Think back to your first friends.  It brings a smile to your face, doesn’t it?

Joseph Addison said, “Friendship improves happiness, and abates misery, by doubling our joy and dividing our grief.” 

Having friends to turn to is often the difference between isolation and misery and inclusion and happiness.  Help your children, whether as a teacher or parent, to form and maintain friendships.  It’s one of finest gifts that can be given.


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