Friendship is usually pretty important to most teenagers. Not having friends can make a teenager frustrated and lonely. Having the wrong kinds of friends can cause all sorts of trouble for teens. When you have a best friend, and it’s a real best friend who loves you and has your best interest at heart, it can make the teen years so much more wonderful.
In my last post, I talked about a famous Biblical friendship between David (the one who slew Goliath) and Jonathon, the king’s son. Their friendship might have seemed pretty unlikely since God had decided to give David the throne Jonathon would have someday had otherwise. Jonathon had so much character, though, that he was able to put all that aside and become David’s best friend. They were so close that Jonathon even defied his wicked father to save David’s life when King Saul wanted to kill him out of pure jealousy. When David was finally forced to flee the kingdom, they promised to be friends forever, even if they lived far apart.
Do you have a best friend like that? Do you want one? While there aren’t any guarantees that you’ll find that kind of best friend, you can increase your chances of finding a friend by following these rules:
- First, become the best person you can be. That doesn’t mean getting an expensive wardrobe or acting like someone you aren’t. It doesn’t mean lowering your standards. Instead, be who God wants you to be. Focus on developing the inside you, the parts that count. Be honest, kind, thoughtful, and helpful. People are attracted to kind people. If you want a really great best friend, you need to be a really great person.
- Decide what kind of best friend you want. Remember that popularity is really unimportant when you’re looking for a forever friendship. You want someone who shares and respects your values. Your friends don’t all have to be the same religion as you, and you might have small ways you are different, but you should share important values like honesty and kindness. When your values are higher than those of your friends, they should respect them and not try to make you lower them, just as you shouldn’t try to lower theirs.
- Don’t do all the talking. Of course you’re going to talk about yourself sometimes, but you should make sure you’re also letting others talk about themselves. Generally, when people get to talk about themselves, they feel they’ve had a great conversation. Ask questions that show you are interested in the other person—not personal, embarrassing questions, but questions that tell you more about them and that allow them to talk about their favorite subjects, as long as their favorite subjects are appropriate.
- It isn’t all about you. When deciding how to spend time, make sure you let your friends choose their favorite activities sometimes, even if you’re not that interested in it. Good friends will go to the museum one day because one of the group loves it and to a baseball game the next because a different friend loves sports.
- Be respectful of your friends’ time. Don’t call too often or talk too long—unless of course, you both love to talk!
- Be respectful of your friends’ families. If the parents like you, they will make it easier for the friendship to grow and to continue. Don’t wake the family with late night calls on the land line or stay too late. Be a good influence on your friends and be polite to the parents. Clean up after yourself. Be especially kind to younger siblings, who often get jealous when their older siblings have friends over.
- Surprise your friends. You don’t have to buy your friends expensive gifts, but sometimes it’s nice to surprise them with something that tells them you’re thinking of them. Something simple—a homemade card, a cookie, a note on their social networking site, an emailed picture or comic that made you think of them—just lets them know they matter. Everyone wants to matter.
- Be whatever kind of friend you want to have. If you treat others the way you want to be treated, you’ll be considered a great friend.
- If you don’t currently have a friend, be patient. Be nice to people, be cheerful, and pitch in to help. Go to church, join a club, volunteer somewhere. Not only will doing those things keep you too busy to feel sorry for yourself, but they are great ways to meet people with similar values and interests.
10. Look for other friendless people. When we look around for friends, we often focus on the people who already have lots of friends. Look for someone who needs a friend and start there. I knew a girl once who was beautiful, kind, smart and popular. She could have joined any crowd, but she chose to gather up the kids who didn’t have many friends and befriend them. They weren’t the popular kids, but she didn’t care. She was nice to everyone and pretty soon no one was judging her choices in friends. If they wanted to be her friend, they had to accept her other friends. She didn’t dump the unpopular kids when the popular kids went after her. She was a real friend and so other people who were good at friendship wanted her to be their friend also.
Mormon teenagers receive a booklet called “For the Strength of Youth.” This booklets teaches Mormon teens the standards God holds them to. The section on friendship sums up what every teen needs to know about choosing and being a friend: “Choose your friends carefully. They will greatly influence how you think and act, and even help determine the person you will become. Choose friends who share your values so you can strengthen and encourage each other in living high standards. A true friend will encourage you to be your best self.
To have good friends, be a good friend yourself. Show interest in others and let them know you care about them. Treat everyone with kindness and respect. Go out of your way to be a friend to those who are shy or do not feel included.”
Friends of the opposite sex are obviously of great interest to teens as well. Find out what it takes to make friends of the opposite sex.
Visit the official site for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (inadvertently called by friends of other faiths as the “Mormon Church”) to learn more about Mormon youth.