As all of my kids get older, I’ve watched them grow into thoughtful, caring, and courageous humans—to themselves and others! Of course, as we get into the tween and teen ages, so many topics come up, like self-esteem, family bonds, and fostering friendships.
We’ve all been there—the rises and falls of finding your besties in middle and high school. But friendships have always been one of the most beautiful relationships out there. Oftentimes, they are the ones that withstand life’s many ups and downs, the people that are there for you while you grow, succeed, fail, find love, and everything in between. As my kids navigate their friendships, I’ve had chats with them about the ways they can show up for their friends and foster a strong bond to last a lifetime—and the ‘no duh’ reminders that are always worth remembering!
When They Win, You Win
Celebrate your friends’ successes as your own! It’s sound advice for friends of any age. You don’t have to share the same passions as your friends, but it’s important to show your support. Did they make the dance team? Won a game? Got an A on a math test? Whatever they accomplish, cheer them on. Showing up for them in the moments that they need it ensures that they’ll show up for you when you need it, whether it be words of encouragement, help studying, or cheering from the stands.
Exes (and Currents) Are Off-Limits!
A no-brainer, but it needs to be said! Respect your friends and put them first, no matter the partners that come and go in your life. At this age, love and “firsts” are part of the package but remind yourself that your true friends will be around much longer. Loyalty to your friends is most important. Treat them as you’d like to be treated—you wouldn’t want one of your besties dating someone you used to date!
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Be a Trusted Confidant
The closest friends in your life can be the best soundboards and support group for life’s crazy moments. Show your friends that they can trust you with their deepest thoughts and best-kept secrets. Being able to be completely honest and 100 percent yourself with someone is such a rare gift, so show that you can be trusted. It’s a no-judgment, no-gossip zone.
Show You Care
Actions go a long way. What strengthens bonds is the care and thought toward one another. Active listening is a great place to start. Set aside time to check in with your bestie, listen (really listen) by giving them your undivided attention, and follow up on what they say! Make a reminder on your phone to send them a good luck text on the day of a big test! Give them a call on a day you’ll know will be tough, or make their birthday extra special. Showing up on the days they don’t expect it means more than you think.
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This is nothing new around here—embrace what makes you different! Celebrate your besties’ quirks and passions, no matter how different they are from you. By creating a safe space for your friend to be their authentic self, you are boosting their confidence and self-esteem to live true to themselves. There’s no greater gift than that!