Dear Kids, Here are 7 “Rules” For Finding Good Friends

I wasn’t popular as a kid. I wasn’t necessarily in the cool crowd either. I was in band, so there’s that. But, I had a solid group of friends that were just good people. I am still thankful for those friendships.

My very best friend growing up now lives in another state, but we remain close. We call each other to catch up on life and check in on new jobs and milestones in our kids’ lives. It’s a friendship that started when we were in the fifth grade. And I know it will be one that continues well into our golden years.

As I watch my kids grow up, I find myself thinking about the friends they’re choosing. I wonder if one of the friends they’ve met in elementary school will be at their wedding or go off to college with them. And I worry that they’ll eventually fall away from the good kids and end up in the wrong crowd.

Wouldn’t it be awesome if we could pick our kids’ friends for them? Like, “No honey. Trust me, that one isn’t going places.” But, since kids tend to pave their own way, the most we can hope for as parents is that they’ll adhere to our advice. So, to my kids, here are my seven rules to follow when picking out your BFF.

  1. Pick friends who will lift you up. Friends aren’t supposed to make you feel bad about yourself. They aren’t supposed to criticize and judge. Pick friends who make you feel good about yourself and celebrate your accomplishments with you instead of being jealous.
  2. Pick friends that aren’t afraid to act their age. You have all the time in the world to grow up. Being an adult is overrated. Don’t rush too quickly out of the make-believe phase of life. Don’t be afraid to play Barbies in middle school if that’s what you want to do. Find friends who are willing to stick by your side and not grow up too fast either. You have your whole life to figure out Instagram and Snapchat. It’s not the end of the world if you don’t get it at 12 years old.
  3. Pick friends that push you to be better. It’s alright to have friends who are smarter than you. They will push you. Find friends who are going places and will encourage you to do the same. Playing video games is fun, but you’ll need people around you with little ambition too.
  4. Pick friends who are kind. You don’t have to be friends with everyone, but you do have to be kind to everyone. Look for friends who will include kids that aren’t in your crowd. Find people who don’t badmouth others and who will seek out someone that looks lonely.
  5. Pick friends with high standards. I encourage you to have friends from all types of backgrounds and faiths. That’s how you become open-minded. But pick friends that have solid morals, too. Pick friends that aren’t afraid to follow the rules when no one else is. And, find friends that are okay with not being “cool” in the moment when you’re faced with peer pressure.
  6. Pick friends that want to hang out at your house. I know hanging out with adults isn’t super cool when you’re a kid, but if you can find friends that aren’t afraid to hang out at your house when your parents are home, that’s a good sign. And, find friends where you feel comfortable being at their home, too.
  7. Pick friends who are real. Even as an adult, I’m always on the hunt for real friends. Don’t pick friends that put on an act for others or pretend to be someone that they’re not. Find friends who will be there for you when things get tough and will say “I’m sorry” after an argument. Those are the types of friends worth hanging on to.

Friends will come and go, so don’t stress too much if you lose one. It’s always hard when that happens, but true friends will stick around—no matter the distance that separates you. Just be yourself, and I guarantee you that your people will find you. Or maybe you’ll find them.

Photo: Getty