One of the main things the Bible sets out to teach us is how to be a friend. Jesus calls us friends and his Word is a blueprint for how to be just like him.
There are a lot of keys to good friendships. Friendships take work, just like everything else that's alive and breathing! You can't forget to water a plant or soon you'll find a pot full of dried up twigs! A new puppy has to be fed and walked and played with or you will have a disobedient monster on your hands!
Being a good friend takes effort and can be a struggle for your daughter in the face of peer pressure and mean girls. Here are a few areas you can encourage your girl to always be a good friend:
Area 1: Time
Can you imagine trying to convince someone you liked them if you never actually made time for them? Wouldn't really work. Friendships thrive on time spent together. Researchers tell us that people who spend time with friends experience more happiness than people who are lonely. That's no big surprise! And happiness is good for our health. Therefore… spending time with friends is good for us! Proverbs 17:22 actually says, "A cheerful heart is a good medicine." Encourage and help your daughter make time for her friends.
Area 2: Influence
"The heartfelt counsel of a friend is a sweet perfume." Proverbs 27:9
Friends tend to influence their peer's behavior more than anyone else once they reach a certain age. One unique thing about Jesus and his friendships is that he did all the influencing. Encourage your daughter to be an influencer too. While we guide and pray that our daughters will surround themselves with quality Christian friends, the truth is, they will likely find a few who don't know Jesus. Your daughter has the opportunity to share truth with them! Help your daughter write encouraging notes with Bible verses and slip them into her friend's locker - invite them to church or youth group. Open your home to these friends and invite them to share a meal with your family.
There may be some girls who are not open to receiving truth - these girls aren't going to make quality friends just yet. There are some relationships that need to be put on the back burner or out to pasture… and your daughter needs to know there is nothing ungodly about that.
Area 3: "Co-Misery"
Does your daughter feel uncomfortable when a friend is going through a hard time? Especially if she's younger she may become distant and timid around friends who are hurting. Encourage her to "commiserate" with that friend. When a friend is hurting, the best thing for your daughter to do is to stay by their side and simply hurt with her. Your daughter may feel the pressure to say something like "It's going to be ok," or "I know things will get better," but the most helpful response is to do what Jesus did. He wept. When he lost his friend Lazarus, he and the others who loved Lazarus mourned together. They just cried.
Area 4: Prayer
Does your daughter hear you pray for your friends? With your friends? Granted, praying out loud isn't the most comfortable thing in the world for many people, but prayer is a sign of authentic friendship. Set the example, then encourage your daughter to pray for her friendships. If she doesn't know what to pray, suggest she ask that God will help her be a good friend to this girl. That the friend will love God with her whole heart and experience him in new ways. Pray that God bless her family. That she knows she's loved by God… the list could go on for ages! Without Jesus, we can't do anything… including being a good friend! Prayer is essential, girlfriend!
Encourage your daughter to love her friends in these four specific areas - then watch her become the "real deal" when it comes to friendship! This is how a true friend loves. After all, there's only one true motivation for friendship, and that is love.