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We model friendships for our kids

Every birthday each of my children receive a card from a woman they've never met before. Each child, each birthday, without delay or fail. It's simply signed, "Rosie."

It's from one of my mother's oldest and dearest friends; a woman I remember eating Friday night take out with, finding her lent novels around the house and whose singsong laughter plays as a soundtrack to my childhood. I know these cards have less to do with birthdays, and more to do with a sign of a lifelong friendship that goes on long after we lost my mother. She was my first and longest model of a true friend.

Friends. We worry about if our children have them, and then if they're the right ones. We worry if they'll show up for birthday parties or if they have too much influence. We worry about how much time they should spend together and if they have too few or too many.

For such a huge issue in our children's lives, we don't spend a great deal of formal training on it.

Not that I'm suggesting there's a magic formula or a newsletter you can sign up for to ensure your child has healthy friendships that last a lifetime, because I don't believe such a thing exists. But this is definitely one of those perfect parenting lessons that we teach through example in our own adult friendships.

We've made some new friends in our new town. A few weekends ago we had a visit from my husband's childhood friend since kindergarten. The month before it was a friend of mine I've known for 20 years. This summer we'll see neighbors from two moves ago and friend from my junior high school. We will spend a week with a whole group of still more for our annual beach vacation. These are just some of the many wonderful people that we've been blessed with who have been sources of great friendship and support, and I want our children to see that. To know we value these long distance and long standing relationships based on mutual respect no matter when and where they entered our lives. It's not done through explanation, it's by example.

So when the next friend drama in your teen or tween's life occurs (which should be in about 5 minutes) stop and make sure your own friendships encourage the kind of drama-less consideration, affection and longevity you wish for them.

And then pick up the phone and give your old BFF a call.

Or better yet, send a card.

--Tracey Henry, Suburban Diva

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Posted by Sharon Wynne at 7:52:27 am on May 18, 2011