As children are growing up, it is often a time to explore relationships and friendships. Friendships have many high points and at other times, friendships can be rocky with strong disagreements possibly present. It is important to assist our children in navigating all the angles and experiences of friendships.
One question that I ask often students, when they are having difficult times with friendships, is “What makes a good friend?” The responses vary, but replies usually sync with the ideas such as “A true friend has your back” or “Stands up for you” or “Have fun together.”
As we know, any relationship or friendship takes time and effort. Words are an important part of this process, words are not insignificant. There’s an amazing proverb that Eugene Peterson translates: “Words kill, words give life; they’re either poison or fruit—you choose. “ (Proverbs 18:21, The Message)
There’s probably no better guide about how to talk with friends than Ephesians 4:29: “Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.” (ESV)
Here are some questions that may be helpful to use when discussing the topic of friendships with your child/children. Get them to honestly and humbly examine one friendship in their current lives:
1. How can you better serve your friend this week? What are their specific needs that you can meet?
2. Are you trying to control your friend in any way? Why is this unhealthy for both of you?
3. How can you humbly depend on your friend more? What areas of weakness do you need to ask for help with?
4. What happens when your friend points out a flaw? Do you respond self-righteously or with humble confession?
5. How can you listen and learn from your friend more? If you think that you have all the wisdom to offer in the relationship, how will this negatively impact the relationship for both of you?
Recently in Pastoral Care, we have explored the concept of RUOK day and asking the question, “Are you okay?”
This is a question we have been encouraged to ask, to show that we care about each other. This question, encourages others to talk about themselves. It is in recognition of the fact that there are many facets to being human, that we deal with overlapping physical, mental, social, emotional, intellectual and spiritual perspectives on the question of whether we are actually okay – and that very few of us, if any, would suggest that we are totally healthy in every aspect of our being. From a twisted ankle to cancer, from our parents’ messy divorce to a spat with a friend, from bullying issues to an ongoing battle with sin, from rebelliousness to a diagnosis of mild intellectual disability, we recognise that to be human today, is to be broken in some way, at some time.
Here are two videos you can watch on RUOK?
Scripture gives us much instruction about interpersonal relationships and how to treat each other. Christians in the Bible are often identified in union with other Christians and the images of body and family are commonly used to describe this relationship. The Bible describes the believers in Rome as being “one body in Christ, and individually, members one of another” (Romans 12:5). It describes every Christian in Corinth as being essentially connected to each other—“the body is not one member, but many. If the foot says, ‘Because I am not a hand, I am not a part of the body,’ it is not for this reason any the less a part of the body…the eye cannot say to the hand, ‘I have no need of you’” (1 Corinthians 12:14-15, 21)
So, be a good friend and think about others, ask them the question, RUOK?
In His service,
High School Deputy