Growing up as a teenager in the 80’s I was very fortunate to know the importance of friendship. I was very lucky in that I made very dear friends as a young teen. Some of those friends are still very dear and very special to me today.
I met my husband (25 years married later this year) when I was 21. I was just out of college. We became very serious very quickly. But I never lost touch with my friends. My husband was always aware of the importance of my friends to me and to my life.
So when we went on to have three sons, I tried to instill in my boys the importance of good friends. As the boys grew up, they made friends with boys I didn't think were appropriate friends. But I was very wrong. I learned through experience to take a step back and allow them to make their own choices. One example goes as such:
One of my sons was getting very friendly with a young boy who I felt wasn’t good company. The other boy’s family would not have been encouraging in the education field and the boy was allowed much more freedom that I felt a child his age should be allowed. I encouraged my son to seek friends elsewhere. My advice did what so much of our motherly advice does at this young age – it went in one ear and out the other!
As the years went by, this boy and my son became even friendlier. As my son progressed through his secondary school years, his friend dropped out. My son then proceeded to go off to college and still they remained friends.
Now both are working men and providing a very good life for themselves. My son was college educated and his friend has been life educated. Neither one of the boys is any better than the other. Neither one of them has gone down the road of crime, unemployment or anything else a mum worries about. Both boys have turned into really good, respectable young men.
When I look back at my trying to influence my son and his friendship, I honestly believe, in fact I KNOW, I was very wrong. My son made a good choice in befriending this boy and I hope that my parenting influence helped him to be a good judge of character. Perhaps I should have listened to my inner self.
Today I watch as many of my friend’s despair at their children’s choice of friends. I always tell them my story and encourage them to trust their children. It’s so important that we let our young children choose their own friends.
A couple of years ago an old friend and I reunited. She had just separated from her husband of many years. She had lost touch with all her school friends (including me). She realises now what a big mistake she made and no doubt this impacted on her life to date. We speak regularly now about the importance of always keeping your friends and making time for them.
I’m very proud as I watch my three adult sons today remain very close to their childhood friends. I see how they look out for each other and help each other with various milestones in their lives. I really do hope that my showing them the importance of friends in my life has played a part in their strong friendships in life.
Sometimes we forget that friends really are the family we make for ourselves. I have a family I love dearly. But I also have a family of friends whom I love equally so.
Without friends, life can be empty. Without friends, we can become isolated. My old friend from all those years ago certainly did.
Don’t deter friendships your children make. Let them make their own choices and one day, that whole new family they’ve formed for themselves will become a sense of stability for them.
For us Mums too, Friendship is paramount. I’m fortunate to have very good friends in my life from childhood. But a couple of years ago I made a very new friend. Now at 48 years of age, I call her my best friend and I know she’ll be such for life. You’re never too old to make a new friend, and friendship really makes life worth living.
As the saying goes: “Money might make you wealthy; friends make you rich.”
I’m fortunate to be very rich indeed.