February is known for many things all around the world. More popularly, it’s known as a celebration of love. In some parts of the world, we also celebrate kindness, and family day (like in my hometown - Canada!). However, no one can deny that friendship is the greatest celebration of them all. So, it comes as no surprise as to why, during this month, our deepest bonds become a point of focus. When things go bad after a breakup, we call our friends. If things get crazy with family, or work, or schedules, we vent to our friends. Our deepest friendships truly make our life great.
But, what does it mean to be a good friend, or to have a “deep friendship”? From a young age, we know that having friends is - good. We are taught that having friends means you are likable, that you are popular, and that you have a good social standing. However, it's important for our kids (and us) to understand that the best friendships are based on reciprocity and mutual respect, and that choosing our friends wisely, while being a great friend ourselves, is the key to developing true bonds that could last a lifetime.
Let's get back to some basics, and remember what it means to truly be a good friend.
Honesty and Trust
Two of the most important things in a friendship are the ability to be honest with your friend, and to know that you can trust them. I put this in the same bullet point, because one cannot survive without the other. When in class with my students, there's an activity in our Teen Talent course (Unit 1), where my students share the most important qualities they seek in a friend. Honesty and trust are always at the top of their lists. We must teach our children to communicate in clear and honest ways to avoid disappointment or miscommunication down the line. There are always kind ways in which children and adults can communicate truthfully and authentically. If we teach our children that they can’t express themselves in honest ways, becoming passive aggressive later on in life affects their ability to speak up for themselves, be themselves, and promotes bad habits in communication, because they’ve never had a space to open up or be their authentic selves. Lack of honesty to avoid confrontation, can eventually create space for dishonesty. Unfortunately, in the end this creates a perception of untrustworthiness. For a friendship to be healthy, there must always be honesty and trustworthiness at its foundation.
Which leads me to my next point. Honesty means nothing if it comes in the form of a double edged sword. It's important for children to learn how to communicate their ideas and feelings with a friend, while being conscious of how our words and actions land on the other person. The old saying goes, "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you". As a friend, if you desire kindness in your connections, you must be conscious of the kindness you give to those around you, if you expect the same kindness in return.
Being a good friend isn't just about dumping all your troubles on another human being. It's important to listen to your friend when they have something to express, in the same way that you wish to be listened to. Our Co-Director at Helen Doron CDMX, Andrea Delano, said something very wise recently that stuck with me. She said, " There's a reason we have two ears and one mouth. We must all learn to be better listeners." Wise words.
A good friend is able to communicate their limits, their values, their goals, and change in order to grow. A friend has the right to communicate where they stand on all things, and to respectfully say no sometimes. Maybe they decline plans, maybe they are more focused on school or family life at times, maybe they change their mind on moving away to the same college, because a great opportunity presented itself somewhere else. It is not okay for people to bully you, ignore your boundaries and become angry because things didn’t turn out the way they expected. Great friends will always be flexible, if they know the outcome is for your own good. Real friends want what’s best for you, and wish to see you succeed, even if that sometimes means that they have to cheer you on from the sidelines.
Love Your Differences
And finally, learn to love your differences! Sometimes great friends are incredibly similar, and other times opposites attract. No matter your friend type, as long as they respect each other's boundaries, are kind, listen well, are honest and trustworthy, and stay flexible to what life throws at you, differences can actually be fun, and a great opportunity to open your mind to new perspectives. Real friendships encourage growth!
Miss Lex has been a teacher with Helen Doron English CDMX for 2 years, and focuses primarily on teen and adult courses.Lex is a Native English speaker trained in Business English and Early Childhood English through the University of Toronto. Originally from Toronto (Canada), Lex is both Mexican and Canadian. She studied Creative Advertising (Marketing), and has worked as a professional musician and songwriter since the age of 16.
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Random Acts of Kindness Day - February 17th
Random Acts of Kindness Day is a day to celebrate and encourage random acts of kindness. So don't forget to be kind, and pass it on!