10 Things Your Kids Should Look for in a Friend

When I was in kindergarten, I remember having two particular friends. It was so long ago I don’t remember much about that relationship, but I do remember one thing. One day, I went out for recess, and the two of them came after me. I managed to fend them off physically, but I was emotionally hurt. At that age, I couldn’t put it into words, but I felt betrayed and alone.

Human beings are designed to “do life” together in relationships. The people we choose to surround ourselves with and invest in will have a deep impact on us. That’s why it’s so important that our kids have the right kinds of friends. They need to know what makes a good friend. Here are 10 things your kids should look for in a friend.

1. Common Values

Peer influence has a huge impact on children. Your kids must keep the company of friends who affirm the values your family promotes. Ask your kids; it’s something they’re sure to know.

Human beings are designed to do life together in relationships.

2. Character

Do your kids’ friends have the strength of character to stand out from the crowd when the crowd is wrong? Does their behavior hold up away from your house, or do their colors change when you’re out of range?

3. Courage

We’re talking about the courage to do what is right. This isn’t about being reckless; however, doing what’s right often takes guts, and it’s critical to have friends willing to stand alongside them.

4. Kindness

Bullying doesn’t just happen in the locker room. Bullying takes place among so-called friends at an alarming rate. Kindness is critical in healthy friendships. Bullying grows in a permissive environment; it turns out that kindness does too.

5. Reliability

Can your child count on their friends? If they say they’re coming over, do they show up? If they make plans together and something else “better” comes along, then what do they do? Do they keep their commitment to your child, or do they disappoint?

6. Parity

Healthy friendships involve give and take. If one child is always making the decisions and pushing the agenda, then it’s not friendship; it’s top dog and sidekick. Ask your child who makes the plans.

7. Loyalty

Remember the story of the great Hebrew king David and his friend Jonathan? They are a great example. They stuck up for each other even when it was difficult. Friends are people we can count on. They may not be able to fix everything, but they are always there for us.

8. Honesty

Does your child’s friend tell the truth? Your kids need to be confident their friends don’t lie. Honesty and trust go hand in hand.

9. Generosity

This is something that must go both ways. That means looking out for your friend’s happiness ahead of your own. Do your kids’ friends share? Do they buy presents out of their own money, or do the parents always cover? Do they eat the last cookie or offer it to a friend? Generosity at its best is a mutual experience.

10. Humility

Do your child’s friends fess up when they’re wrong? Do they ask forgiveness when they’ve fallen short? Are they willing to make themselves vulnerable when they need help? Real friends are not afraid to ask for help.

For dads, the “twist” here is self-evaluative. Are these qualities I possess as a father? Are these principles I practice in my own relationships? Does my child see these bullet points modeled in Dad? Would you like someone like you to be best friends with your child?

Sound off: What conversations have you had with your kids about their friends?

Huddle up with your kids and ask, “What do you look for in a friend?”