What Kind Of Friend Do You Want To Be?

friend

My son who is a mere four months away from graduating from middle school and moving on to high school is in the midst of a friend crisis.

The not so wee lad I sometimes refer to as Steiner the minor is learning the hard way that sometimes the people you think are your friends aren’t and that sometimes those that are choose to walk a different path than the one you are on.

It is awkward, uncomfortable and painful to wonder if someone you considered a friend has decided you aren’t.

If you asked me to compare these moments to the crazy sleep deprived nights that came when he was a baby I’d tell you this time is much harder than then because I can’t protect him.

Can’t stop the stripping of another layer of innocence and the growth that comes with it. Can’t prevent his heart from getting a little harder or stop him from growing a little more cynical about people.

*****

When I wrote The Kind Of Friend You Want To Be I did so with the intent to make a comment about social media and with an eye to a future conversation to be had with my children.

It didn’t require prescience or insight to know a day would come when they would tell me about about a rift in a friendship or hard moments with others.

I knew it would happen because I had lived through those moments as a kid and an adult and knew they would too because it is something we all experience.

None of that made it any easier to listen to his story or provided me with great wisdom to dispense.

Part of me was torn by it because I don’t believe in bubble wrapping our kids. I don’t believe in protecting them from everything because we can’t always be there.

They have to learn how to advocate for themselves and how to deal with adversity. They need to know what happens when they fall and how to deal with failure.

But at the same time I wanted to make sure they felt supported and to try do what I can to see they remain compassionate.

What Kind Of Friend Do You Want To Be?

That was the question I asked him and when he answered I told him that was the kind of friend he should focus on being.

But I also told him to remember not everyone would treat him well or the same. I told him he needed to figure out when to pull back and when not to.

Sometimes you have to go with your gut and follow your heart. But I also told him that if he felt like someone fooled or mislead him he shouldn’t let that make him think his heart didn’t work.

And I told him that a day might come when someone might break his heart and that he would figure out a way to put it back together.

“Friends shouldn’t break your heart.”

“No, they shouldn’t but if find the kind of friendship I want you to have they might. I hope they don’t, but if you don’t open yourself up you never get to enjoy the depth of a friendship that are possible.”

What I want for my kids is simple. I want the kind of friendship you see between Kirk and Spock.

You know, the person that has your back and will go the distance.

Not everyone is lucky enough to have a friend(s) like that but we all have the chance. The thing is there is no schedule involved here.

Can’t say when, where or how many times it will happen. All you can do is be open to the possibility so when the opportunity comes you are able to take it.

Kirk: Spock!
Spock: The ship… out of danger?
Kirk: Yes.
Spock: Don’t grieve, Admiral. It is logical. The needs of the many outweigh…
Kirk: …the needs of the few…
Spock: …Or the one. I never took the Kobayashi Maru test until now. What do you think of my solution?
Spock: I have been and always shall be your friend.
[Holds up his hand in the Vulcan salute]
Spock: Live long and prosper.
Star Trek- Wrath Of Khan

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Comments

  1. Seeing my kids hurt from the actions of another makes me wanna go all HULK SMASH on someone. But I don’t, probably b/c I don’t want to be that crazy lady in jail. And, well…kids.

    That’s the problem with motherhood. Chances are, the folks most likely to break your kid’s heart is another kid, and you can’t do squat about it, other than love your kid through it.

    • @domesticimp:disqus It is the problem with parenting in general. We know from experience someone is going to hurt our kids and no matter what we do it is a risk we have to live with because they have to learn how to deal with it too.

      Just sucks watching them go through it.

  2. Sometimes, we have to let them go through the troubles as it’s the only way they’ll learn. I know this but it doesn’t make it easier. So, I know what you mean.

  3. Kathy Radigan says

    As the mom of a teen I can say without a doubt that I totally agree with you, the sleepless nights were easier in the sense that we could protect them in a way we just can’t as they get older. I love the conversation you had with your son. I think the best thing we can ever tell our kids is to trust their own instinct. And I especially love that you told him that even if someone he cared about and trusted did let him down, he could still trust his heart. Perfect! Thanks!

    • @Kathy Yep, teens are tough. I look at my 14 year old and wonder what is coming next. It is a wonderful time of life in so many ways, but there are so many challenges and so much for us to do to try and help them.
      Moments like this one also make me appreciate blogging any more because having the opportunity to share these stories and thoughts with other parents is helpful.

  4. Chalk one up for the Winnie the Pooh quote.

    This reminds me that this is something that tends to happen each stage of life – graduating into the next phase of education, or decade in life when friends are at different stages or have differing opinions or expectations. Each lesson learned at the earlier ages should help at later stages.

    Like Nancy, I had this happen more recently but due to me finally having enough of a group of people not being friends at the same level I had always been to them. It was tough in the beginning, but well worth the feeling of being free.

    “People come into your life for a reason, a season or a lifetime.” I hope that as we get older (and wiser of course), time gives us the distance to remember the seasonal people with less hurt and sadness.

    • @ionfooddrinklife:disqus I have always liked the reason/season/lifetime quote. Sometimes it makes me want to scream, but I like it nonetheless.
      That feeling of giving far more than you get is ok for a while but if it never changes and you always feel like a person is taking then you really do reach a time where you have had enough. I know from experience too.

      Freeing is a good description.

  5. Kristen Miller Hewitt says

    That’s the one thing I desperately want to protect our girls from…but we can’t shield them can we? We can just teach them to be honest, good friends and to believe and love themselves.

    • @kristenmillerhewitt:disqus It is just hard, definitely different with girls too. I know when my daughter talks with me about her interactions with the girls at school it is a whole different ball of wax. But gender differences or not, that goal of teaching them to be honest, good friends and loving themselves is always there.

  6. Loved the Spock reference and sadly we just can’t protect our kids from some things and this is just one of them, as much as I know I wish I can, I know better. Doesn’t mean I won’t want to try, but still.

  7. TheGoblinRoad says

    Ah, Spock… that movie always gets me.

    You’re right, Jack. We can’t protect them from this. Well-articulated post!

  8. Friendships can be so fragile. It seems kids can weather the storms of friendship a lot better than we do as adults. And you’re right; you can’t shield them from this stuff, and you shouldn’t. It’s a natural progression of life and one of the things that needs to be experienced unfortunately. It’s part of emotional growth.

    • @Linda_Roy_elleroy_was_here:disqus Children are resilient and we do them a disservice when we don’t treat them like that. I think you are right about their ability to weather the storms, they are often far more forgiving than adults are.

  9. Nancy Davis says

    Friendships change even in adulthood. I wound up losing a friend because I told her things she needed to hear rather than what she wanted to hear. The good news is that your son can and will learn from this experience so that the next time it happens, he will know how to handle it.

    You are so right about not overprotecting our kids. They have to learn to take some of life’s hard blows. We can’t protect them from everything, then they will never learn.

    • @disqus_B72EjjbJxz:disqus You are the kind of friend we all need. Sometimes you hurt people more by not telling them what they need to hear than by telling them what they want.

      Given a choice I want the honest approach. It is what I am teaching my kids to do too.

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