Sometimes we have to learn by example. Sometimes we have to learn through experience. I believe today my oldest daughter learned an important lesson on friendship, trust and responsibility- both from the child’s view as well as the parent view.
She was sleeping over a friend’s house, and a verbal fight occurred between the friend and my daughter. She was scheduled to sleep over for 2 nights. Since the friend didn’t want to resolve the argument amicably, in the early afternoon the mother ordered my daughter to leave the house.
Her resourceful brain had her walk to our old neighborhood and decide to see if our across the street former neighbors were still there. Luckily they were until I could be called to pick her up.
What parent kicks out their friend in the middle of a sleep over? Is it that tough to use your parenting skills and resolve things? When this friend had difficulty over our house with our daughter, we talked things through, apologies were made and the sleepover went through without a hitch. That’s being proactive and doing the right thing for the benefit of a relationship.
I’m hoping my daughter learned that this friend isn’t a true friend if she is unwilling to resolve conflicts- or if her manner of solving the problem is to just let people leave her life. I would never do that to a child. That’s the easy way of handling conflict and challenge- just run away from the problem or act like it doesn’t exist. What do children learn from that? They’ll probably end up parenting in the same way- learning from observation.
I didn’t scold my daughter because she did the right thing. My wife and I warned her that previous actions from the mother and her daughter weren’t really acts of kindness but more of selfishness. I think she learned that who she really thought was a friend wasn’t much of a friend at all.
To me a friend is someone who you may occasionally have disagreements with, but will be in your corner when you need them. They are there for the good times and the hard times- the celebrations as well as when you need comfort. It’s a mutual back and forth exchange.
I’m hoping my daughter understands the investment of a good friendship is worth it in the long run. It may be scary for her to want to develop new relationships, and I’m sure she’ll approach the next one cautiously. She tends to be an all in kind of person- you know where she stands at all times.
I want her to know not all people are like this former friend. You don’t leave at the first sign of conflict. If you are truly a friend, you look at the other person’s point of view and consider where they are coming from. It’s not always about you. I know she’s in pain about this long term friendship coming to such a crashing end- so I will be there if she needs a dad to listen.