The Joys of Lasting Friendship
I smiled as I looked at the pictures from the 70th anniversary celebration of my high school, Holy Child Secondary School in Ghana. All the faces were so familiar. I felt like I was right back in boarding school, in the dormitories chatting with my classmates. I remembered the late night conversations and laughter that sometimes got us in trouble. What beautiful memories we shared. As one of my friends put it, the excitement was palpable.
One of the advantages we had was actual communication and interaction with each other. We talked and joked and made lasting friendships. When I see some of my school mates, it’s like we never left each other. We pick up and talk and laugh and reminisce about the past. We also turn to each other for support as we have each faced some difficulties or crises in our lives and they are always there to lend an ear and listen. That is the joy of lasting friendship.
Our school motto is “Facta non Verba” (Actions not words)
I wonder about the youth these days and think they are missing out on making real human connections. They have so many friends on Facebook and snapchat and several twitter followers but as I heard one journalist say on TV once “how many of your Facebook friends will come to your aid if you really needed them to?”
They are almost losing the value of true conversation and laughter and the value of touching and connecting with each other. I’m a little amused but also sad when I see two friends sitting together supposedly having fun together, but each person is on their cell phones. I truly believe parents need to take the time to teach their teens the value of having long lasting friendships and how important companionship and human interaction is to them and to society as a whole.
1. Take time to engage your children in conversation.
Life has become so busy for families these days, with both parents working that there is hardly time to stop and chat or even eat a meal together. It is important to stop and actually look at your teens when you speak to them. Sometimes a parent gains more from the eye contact and posture of the child than from the actual words that are spoken. Stop and show them that you care. Learn to smile at your teens and pay attention when they talk to you. Of course, we should take time to have meaningful interaction with our spouses or significant others as well. Our children learn more from seeing how we behave than from what we say.
2. Learn your teen’s method of communication
Some teens are more outgoing and are able to engage easily in conversation. Then there are those who answer in monosyllables and though they may not show it, actually do appreciate the conversation. Others communicate better when you engage them in an activity like basketball or camping or a father or mother’s day out. Some teens just launch into conversation as soon as their picked up from school whilst others just want a little peace and they talk after their afternoon snack. Learn what works for your teen and be available to talk and interact with them when they need you. It really is worth the investment.
3. Social media does have a role.
Whether we like it or not the cellphone and social media is here to stay and we should get involved. Learn how to text and snapchat to stay in touch with your teen. This way they feel like you’re actually in the 21st century and not an ancient relic. Some of them love to tell their friends about their interactions with grandparents on Facebook and how cool their family members are. Being friends with them on the social media sites also helps you pick up on what is really happening in your child’s life. One mom saved her child from a sexual predator when she noticed inappropriate conversation on her daughter’s cell phone. Her quick thinking eventually led to the arrest of the sexual predator. So social media and the use of the cell phone has its merits and we should get involved.
4. Encourage your teens to make true and lasting friendships
Nothing beats the joys of lasting friendships and we really should encourage our teens to make real life friendships that will last forever. Connecting with friends on social media is important but nothing beats having a friend that you can talk to. One that you can disagree with and make up with after that. We learn to make sacrifices for our friends and we become better people ourselves when we encourage our friends in their successes and failures. Through lasting friendships, we ourselves become more selfless and reliable and happy people. Human connection actually does make us happier and we age more slowly. Who does not want that benefit?
As I look back at the pictures of my high school friends celebrating the 70th anniversary of my great school, Holy Child, I’m so grateful for the joys of lasting friendship. I’m thankful for the laughter we’ve shared, the support we’ve given each other through decades of friendship and the real life values we’ve taught each other. I’ve been so blessed by the lasting friendships we’ve made over the years and how it has enriched our lives. I’m grateful for the teachers and school principals who helped mold us into becoming the “young” and accomplished ladies we are now, and the role they played in teaching us to value our friendships. I sincerely hope that we are able to pass this gift on to our teens.