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Why Do We Like Who We Like ?
Anne Matern

Sometimes our friendships seem to be obvious connections to the outside observer. Sometimes they don’t seem to make sense. Maybe we don’t wholly understand the friendship ourselves but here we are and they take a spot in our mental friend list. Trapped in your house during subnormal temperatures makes you philosophical about life.

 

Kids are the same. Some of their friendship choices can seem unfathomable. What is the attraction? Hard to say and often harder to see. There are millions of reasons people connect; maybe feeling needed or being around someone makes us feel more powerful. Or they are just really fun to be around. What passes for humor at 6-9 is generally not considered witty repartee by most adults. Cleverly inserting the word toilet into a conversation can get a huge laugh at the lunch table.

 

Our best relationships are the ones that make us feel accepted as our authentic self. They are mutual, balanced, and supportive. But not all of them are. I have a friend who never will make the plans. Never. I have tested this theory and have accepted this is the way it is going to be. There are relationships that are better if not sustained and that is something to be learned as well. More often than not, it has to be a decision we make ourselves and we are impervious to even the most well meaning observations from the people who truly have our best interests at heart.

 

Since we know this is human nature, how can we help our kids foster positive relationships? First, we have to model it. We have to help kids identify how a good friend makes them feel. What are the qualities they value in a friend? We have to accept that there are some aspects of temperament  that can be highly useful in some situations, but are occasionally liabilities, too. Being the bossy eldest brother gets everybody out of the house in the morning, but that same imperious approach can grate on peers. We learn to refine and code switch between environments . The classroom laboratory gives us a chance to practice. It takes a lot of practice.