A small boy defined a friend as: "Someone who knows all about you, and likes you just the same".
Children need friends as badly as they need good food and clean air. Without friends their learning is impeded, their personalities do not glow, and their happiness is not multiplied; their growth is stunted. Therefore parents have a responsibility to help children make friends and cultivate friendships, in particular, in the early years of childhood. There is a danger that some ill-bred children get close to them, when they try to make friends. With a watchful eye, parents can guard their children from such negative influences and help convert such encounters into opportunities - for being a good influence on those unfortunate little ones.
Some children make friends easily. They need little or no help. Parents of such children can help screen the wide circle of friends they attract. Some other children have to be coaxed into contact with peers. It is these children who need help, in the following ways:
1) Parents can introduce their children to children of their friends, and those in the neighborhood. They could arrange for a few get-together evenings, when their children can mix freely with others.
2) Children can be persuaded to remember the birthdays of their new friends and send them cards and small gifts on their birthdays.
3) Parents can help children develop interests which attract other children. Football, cricket and other popular team games bring children together. Soon they have buddies with the same interest.
4) When coaxing children to make friends, parents should respect individuality - some are gregarious, others loners. The loners prefer playing alone and talking to themselves. Such children should not be pushed into group games, but allowed to watch, and join the group only when they are ready.
5) Children should be taught that the best way to make friends is to be interested in others. Greetings others, without waiting to be greeted; smiling warmly and calling others by the names they liked to be called; being considerate and helpful; giving praise and never forgetting good manners - are a few lasting lessons parents can teach their children, as long as they are examples for the lessons they teach.
There are some parents who claim that they and their children are friends. Being friendly and friends are not the same. When parents become friends of their children, they lose an essential 'distance' they need to maintain for proper counseling and timely discipline. In time they find that the respect they should get from their children is eroded. The healthy parent-child relationship is endangered.
Two TV technicians were friends and decided to work as a pair. On one job they had to fix a broken TV antenna. Since they did not carry a ladder, one of them let the other stand on his shoulders, to weld the broken piece. The job completed, the fellow on the top descended to find his friend collapsing - from terrible burns all over his body. Molten lead from the welding kept falling on him, but he did not budge or let out a cry from his lips. If he had jerked or moved abruptly, his friend would have fallen to his death from that high-rise apartment, where they worked.
Socrates made an important point on friendship when he wrote: "There is no possession more valuable than a good and faithful friend".