Friendship is a feeling of warmth toward another and occurs between people who like the same things. Degrees of friendship vary with different levels of maturity. The desire to belong and the fear of rejection drives preteens to seek friends with similar interests and abilities. Students that share ethnicity, gender, intellectual ability, or family background tend to stick together.
The language of friendship is different for boys and girls. Girls are acutely aware of the opinions of others and desire to know exactly where they stand in relation to others in a group. A young lady might be looked down upon when she seeks God's blessing rather than the world's approval.
Boys are competitive and battle for dominance either verbally or athletically. Acting tough and not backing down from a challenge are considered ultimate displays of power. But a Christian boy may be bullied when he follows Christ's example of love and forgiveness, refusing to follow the crowd. Thus, the cost of discipleship can be difficult.
The building blocks of friendship
Friendships take work. Strong friendships involve both listening and communicating. There are six building blocks for healthy friendships.
Kindness creates an atmosphere of acceptance and respect. People enjoy being around others who are kind. Teach your preteen to show kindness by holding the door for someone, allowing someone to go before her in line, and saying "hi" or "thank you" to others.
Empathy is seeing life through someone else's eyes. It causes your child to understand her feelings and the reason for her words or actions. If your preteen imagines being on the receiving end of her behavior, she might decide that she needs to change how she treats others. Treating others the way that you would like to be treated is the way to establish a healthy friendship.
Being loyal means you can be trusted with important information. Reliability and respect are earned by proving that you are trustworthy with family and friends. If you cannot be trusted in small things, you will not be trusted with more important matters. Teach your preteen that if she is faithful in little things, she will be given more. Standing by a friend during a time when others forsake her will prove that you are a true friend.
Patience is a rare virtue in today's fast-paced society. Help your preteen slow down and take the time to listen. Teach her to make people feel comfortable but also to use discernment as she cares for others. Pray together about important decisions and difficult situations. Guide her to pray for a friend who is struggling.
Honesty means telling the truth in all circumstances. Sharing weaknesses and shortcomings allows for a deeper level of friendship. But teach your child to choose wisely to whom she reveals her heart. Above all, she must be true to whom God created her to be and about how she feels.
6. Wise judgement
Good judgment should be used in selecting the company your child keeps. Ask God to show your preteen whom she can trust. Look for those who have inner character rather than outward beauty. Teach your child to seek to know a friend's heart and motivation.