In the following
article Skye Thomas looks at how her fifteen year old son's behaviour
lead to a closer examination of what makes friends into good friends,
and how friends are different from family...
A Gift You Give Yourself
by Skye Thomas
My oldest boy
is fifteen and was a real jerk about a month ago. He had gotten
pretty full of himself and acted like he was too cool for the rest
of the family. Pretty typical teenager behavior, but I didn't like
it. I had gotten to the end of my patience with him and laid into
him about how lousy it felt to be treated that way. We ended up
in a huge fight. He argued that he wasn't acting any different than
normal and that I was just choosing to see things negatively. So,
I laid out numerous examples of his selfish "me me me" behaviors
without stopping to take a second breath. He hates it when I go
off like that, but once he was ready to really talk, I came down
off of my soapbox. He was close to tears. Apparently, I'd hit a
nerve. He confessed that his closest friends at school had been
trying to tell him the same thing recently and he wasn't hearing
them. Now he suddenly knew what it was they had been trying to say.
He felt awful and began to make immediate changes in his behaviors
towards others. He really hated the idea that he was hurting anyone's
feelings by being cold and uncaring.
We talked a
lot that night about how family sort of has to put up with each
other. Family is always there for you. Family can embarrass you
and you still have to acknowledge them in public. Family can and
will scream at you until you finally get the point that you're being
a jerk. You really don't have much choice over who your family is.
the other hand, are a gift that you give yourself. Friends don't
have to put up with your attitudes if they don't want to. Friends
can leave you hanging if you're not very nice towards them. Friends
aren't friends for very long if you're embarrassing them in public.
Friends usually won't scream at you to get their point across. You
handpick your friends to be something different and special. They
aren't quite the same as family.
In order to
have friends, you have to be a friend. Do you listen to them? Do
you care for them? Do you encourage them? You have to give a lot
of yourself to be a good friend to someone. But in the end, you
are the one who benefits the most. It's not about becoming some
kind of martyr without any personal needs or thoughts towards your
own well-being. It's more about nurturing a cherished relationship.
That way, you have a dear friend to hang out with when your family
is driving you bonkers. You have someone to laugh and play with.
You have someone safe to share your hopes and dreams with. You have
someone to talk to who isn't going to blab to the rest of the family
that you think your mom is an overbearing control freak or that
your stepfather isn't turning out to be your idea of what a dad
discussions that night, we were able to tap into what was it about
my son that made him such a great guy to hang out with over the
years. It was his ability to genuinely care about others and his
intuitive compassion for everyone that made him more than just popular,
but a real friend to all. He's the kind of guy who always sticks
up for the smaller kids and looks after the lost children. Once
I reminded him of who he used to be, he realized how much of his
focus had turned inwards towards himself instead of outwards towards
those whom he cared about. He said that he'd gotten so wrapped up
in his new cool friends and in his public image at school that he
hadn't even understood what his old friends were talking about when
they said he was cold and uncaring now. Turning his attention inwards
had caused him to alienate many of his closest friends and family.
Now he suddenly felt very much alone in the world. Luckily, it hadn't
been happening for very long before I'd blown up at him and made
him look at it. He was able to quickly readjust back into the caring
person he used to be and was able to feel loved and supported by
his friends and family again. He passionately dove back into his
He learned that
you can treat your brother like garbage and he's always your brother
and you will have to see each other at family gatherings whether
you ever learn to be close or not. Friends on the other hand, can
and will walk out of your life if you are cold and uncaring towards
them. Family will eventually just shrug their shoulders and excuse
your self-absorbed behavior as just the way you are, friends won't.
I find it's the friendships that we love and nurture like family
that last forever as if they were family. And, it's the family members
that we love and nurture like friends that we form the strongest
and closest bonds with.
They say that
we learn our social skills from our siblings, but I'm not so sure
about that anymore. My stepmother wasn't a very nurturing type and
when we were younger my sister and I were not very close. So through
my girlfriends, I got that female connection that I just couldn't
get from my family. My girlfriends became my surrogate family and
taught me a lot about how to really be there for someone else. My
sister and I have only recently become friends in the last few years.
We are forming a different kind of bond then what we had when we
were children. It's much better now. I would never treat my friends
the way I used to treat my sister!
Skye Thomas, Tomorrow's Edge
began writing books and articles with an everyday practical
approach to life in 1999 after twenty years of studying spirituality,
metaphysics, astrology, personal growth, motivation, and parenting.
After years of high heels and business clothes, she is currently
enjoying working from home in her pajamas. Go to www.TomorrowsEdge.net
to read more of her articles and to get a free preview of
one of her books.
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scroll down to read the article on making friends.
advice on how to make friends is to always be yourself.
This means not pretending to be someone or something you're
not, in other words being genuine and sincere. Add to that an honest
concern for the other person and you have the way to achieve lasting
friendships. Like any relationship, friendships have to be worked
on, of course, they have to be maintained and allowed to grow.
for new friends who could become good friends
New Friends and Friendships
Cultural Marriage and Relationships