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"Each of us must come to care about everyone else's children. We must recognize that the well being of our own children is intimately linked to the well being of all other people's children. After all, when one of our children needs life-saving surgery, someone else's child will perform it. When one of our children is harmed by violence, someone else's child will commit it. The good life for our own children can be secured only if it is also secured for all other people's children. But to work for the well being of all children is not just a practical matter-- it is also right!" - Lilian G. Katz, Phd.

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Being a good friend

Nurturing Healthy Friendships

Of all relationships, friendship can be the most versatile and fulfilling because it is a gift bestowed willingly. Each person who receives your friendship should receive a part of you in the form of caring, concern, happiness, and support. In return, you enjoy the companionship of your friends because they offer comfort, cheer, and a shoulder to cry on. Like any relationship, however, friendship does not simply exist, but must be nurtured and encouraged to grow through actions, words, and reciprocal feelings. The first and most important aspect of being a good friend is treating others with the same respect and kindness with which you wish to be treated. Doing so can be a guide in forging friendships with others.

Being a good friend is easiest and most rewarding when you choose your friendships wisely. Friendships should be built upon a foundation of mutual trust, acceptance, and support. Show them you care, not just using words, but also using actions: Be courteous and kind, honest, and willing to compromise, and shy away from being overly critical. When your friend encounters trouble, support their decision wholeheartedly, but always be willing to tell them when they're about to step onto a dangerous path. In doing so, you will help your friend flourish in their own way, while still being a there for them. Really listen to and share in your friend's triumphs as well as their upsets with patience, kindness, and a sense of humor.

In any strong friendship, conflict will inevitably arise, but be willing to compromise and respect your friend's opinions. If they apologize, accept their apology with grace and forgive them promptly. Try to never hold a grudge, because holding on to negative emotions can put a strain on a friendship. Let your friend be who they are, not who you'd prefer them to be. Friends don't always agree, but it's helpful to keep in mind that it's their enjoyment of each other's company that makes dealing with disagreements worthwhile.

There may be times when you feel ill-equipped to be a good friend, but knowing and admitting this is just another part of a strong friendship. Your friend will understand that you, too, have issues of importance in your life. Developing and maintaining rewarding and lasting friendships is a challenge, but one that yields beautiful results.