1. challenges
  2. character
  3. character education
  4. commitment
  5. compassion
  6. conflict resolution
  7. contentment
  8. cooperation
  9. courage
  10. decision-making
  11. encouragement
  12. filial piety
  13. goals
  14. gratitude
  15. healthy families
  16. healthy lifestyle
  17. integrity
  18. kindness
  19. leadership
  20. life goals
  21. loyalty
  22. marriage
  23. meaningful life
  24. moral education
  25. perseverance
  26. politeness
  27. relationship skills
  28. religion
  29. respect
  30. responsibility
  31. self-awareness
  32. self-improvement
  33. service
  34. sexuality
  35. social awareness
  36. sportsmanship
  37. teamwork
  38. tolerance
  39. trustworthiness


Friends are like jewels—something precious to be treasured. Just as we put jewels in a safe place, we should keep our friendships deep inside a safe place in our hearts. We should always appreciate and be loyal to our friends. The support and good feelings they bring into our lives can't be replaced. True friends are rare gems.

Unfortunately, many people go through their lives without ever discovering the great gift of friendship. Then they feel a sense of emptiness in their hearts.People who are lonely and without friends often feel a lack of value and importance, and they are less physically healthy too. Especially for teenagers, having a group of friends who accept and like us becomes one of the most important things in life. We often feel closer to our friends than to our own family.

The friendship virtues of acceptance, understanding and trust

A true friend is someone who accepts and understands us deeply, with whom we can share any problem. We can completely trust such friends, freely sharing the secrets of our hearts. We know that our friends will still like us in spite of our problems; they understand why we are the way we are; they will keep our secrets safe. We all need such friends.

The first step to finding such a friend is to become a true friend ourselves. Do we have the friendship virtues of being accepting? Understanding? Trustworthy?

Of course, being accepting does not mean that we accept any behavior at all in our friends. As was pointed out in the last chapter, that would not be truly loving our friends. If a friend is doing something bad or destructive, a good friend points this out. In other cases, a friend's behavior might be hurting the friendship so that it becomes harder and harder to be accepting. If the behavior is really bothering you, it is best to talk these kinds of things out as honestly as possible with the friend: "I always wind up paying when we get a snack. You say you're short of money, you lost your money, you forgot your money. I don't mind paying sometimes, but not every time. What can we do about this?"

Acceptance means that we like the person basically as they are and we are able to shrug off or discuss things with them that are less than perfect. We accept that our friend is a good person. We enjoy our friend's company. We like it when our friend calls. We enjoy being together. If our friend likes someone or something, we accept that this other person or this new something is worth liking.

Related to acceptance is understanding. Friends understand one another. They understand why the other thinks, acts, or feels a certain way. They can relate.
They would think, act, or feel the same way if they were in the friend's shoes. They can empathize with their friend. Even if a friend makes a mistake, an accepting person understands and sympathizes, accepting the friend even in his or her shame or anguish; trying to help soothe matters and make the friend feel better.

The most important side of friendship is trust. A good friend is there for his or her friend. A good friend is loyal—he or she won't desert you. A friend can be trusted with secrets. Trust between friends is such that they can deeply reveal their thoughts and feelings to one another without fear of betrayal or rejection.
A friend will say nice things about his or her friend, even when the friend is not there. A friend will not allow others to say bad things about a friend. A good friend keeps his or her word and is honest. This builds trust into the friendship. Friendship cannot survive without trust.

Friends come to understand, accept, and trust each other over time as they share their hearts and experiences. Do you remember your parents always telling you to share with your brothers and sisters? It may have seemed like a pain at the time, but it was actually training for friendship. You make friends by sharing your time, troubles, joys, help, energy, and secrets. Over time, friends share more and more of themselves with one another as they grow in acceptance, understanding, and trust. This sharing is training for marriage, which scientists say is the greatest friendship in a person's life.

Here is what some teenagers had to say about their friends and their acceptance, understanding and trust:

  • We're like sisters. We don't have to pretend or put on an act around each other. We can just be ourselves. (age 13)
  • Your best friend is someone who understands you and who likes you regardless of rumors or what anyone else says. … You can get irritable with each other and still be friends…You can talk about anything with your best friend. (age 14)
  • You can just be silent. You don't always have to talk or explain everything. Your friend just understands. You don't ever feel uncomfortable. You don't have to worry about losing her. She'll always be your friend. (age 15)
  • My friend and I have been through a lot together. We've shared good times and also hard times. … A friend sticks by you, no matter what. Lots of times, if bad rumors about you start going around, people start avoiding you or act like they don’t know you. But a friend will never betray you like that! (age 16)

How do you make friends?

Although most people in the world long for deep friendships, we don’t think so deeply about how to develop such relationships. In fact, we develop friendships by being good to others—by caring, making effort, and giving.

In order to grow, friendship needs to be cared for. Some friendships just seem to happen naturally, but even the most spontaneous friendships need some effort. If a friend never calls, never makes the effort to get together, never puts aside other things for the sake of the friend, never gives a present or sends a card or offers an invitation, that person will not be able to keep friends. Friends have to give to one another.

Of course, to have any sort of friendship at all, you need to start one. In order to make friends, go where the people are. Don't wait for people to come to you! Join a team or a club. Volunteer somewhere and try to get to know your fellow volunteers. Walk home with someone and start a conversation. Sit next to someone from class at a game and strike up a conversation. Call someone who has said they'd like to get together and make a solid plan to do so. If you make the effort, you'll soon have more friends than you have time for!

Being a Good Friend

"To have a friend, be a friend." Ralph Waldo Emerson, writer
  • Don't be too dependent and clingy, always wanting your friend to pay attention only to you and having no other friends or things to do.
  • Don't spend all your time together talking about problems. You'll both get tired of it.
  • When you say you are going to call or get together, follow through. A neglected phone call, a broken promise can hurt a friendship.
  • Listen as much as you talk.
  • Don't make fun of your friend's tastes and opinions, even if they are different from some of yours.
  • Look nice and be clean when you are with friends
  • Don't build your friendship up by putting others down. While it may be fun to gossip together, saying bad things about other people doesn't build a friendship. It can also make friends wonder, "If she talks this badly about other people behind their backs, what does she say about me behind my back? Can I really trust her?"
  • Remember the old saying, "A friend in need is a friend indeed." Things may not always be rosy for our friends or for us. The support of friends is important when we are sick, struggling, or going through a hard time. As we need this kind of support from our friends, so we should give it when they are having a hard time. Stick with your friends during the bad times as well as the good times.

Problems between friends

No doubt you have had fights with your friends. Problems can come up even between the best of friends. If you think about it, it's not surprising that friends sometimes fight. Any time people are especially close, there's bound to be some fighting from time to time.

Below is a list of some of the problems that can involve friends. Take time and check the problems that you've run into. At the end of the list, add any other problems that you've experienced that you did not find on the list.
1. Your parents don't approve of your friend and don't like you spending time together, or your friend's parents don't approve of you.
2. Your friend acts one way when you're alone and another way when you're in a group of people.
3. Sometimes your friend makes rude remarks, criticizes you, or does other things that hurt your feelings.
4. Your friendship is changing. You just aren't as close as you used to be.
5. Your friend easily feels hurt if you spend time with other close friends, or you feel hurt when your friend spends time with other friends.
6. Your friend is too changeable. One day you're best friends; the next day you're not.
7. You have two friends who don't get along with each other. You feel pulled between them.
8. Your friend doesn't keep the secrets you've told her.
9. You are close to your friend, but hardly anybody else likes him. People around you wonder why you're friends with such a person.

Brainstorm some solutions to these common friendship problems with your classmates.

Questions for reflection

1. What were your first childhood friendships like?

2. How are your current friendships like those childhood friendships?

3. What kind of friends would you like to have?

4. Do you feel good enough to have friends? Why or why not?

5. What do you fear most when it comes to making friends or having friendships?

6. What do you expect of your friends?

7. What do you give to your friends?

8. How can you be a better friend?

9. Are you someone's best friend?

Exercise: “Interview on Friendship”

Conduct the following interview with one of your parents, a grandparent, or another elder whom you respect:
1. When you were my age, did you have a good friend? If so, tell me about this person. How did the two of you get to be friends? What did you like about this person?

2. Do you still know this person? If so, how often do you see him or her? How do you stay in touch with each other? If not, how and why did the two of you end your friendship or lose contact with each other?

3. I'd like to read you a list of problems people sometimes have with their friends. (Read aloud the above list.) Did you and your friends ever run into any of these problems or any other problems? If so, how did you feel about it at the time? How do you feel about it now that you're older? How did things turn out? If you had this same problem today, would you handle it any differently?

4. Right now I'm having a problem with one of my friends. (Explain a problem you may be having with a friend and how you feel about it.) Did you ever have this problem or a similar one? If so, tell me about it. How did you handle the problem? What would you do if you were me? What advice would you give me?

Reflection exercise

1. Do you have a best friend?

2. What is the main reason that you make friends with someone?

3. What qualities do you like most in your friends?

4. What bothers you most about your friends?

5. What do you think your friends like most about you?

6. What do you think may bother your friends about you?

7. What is the best time you and your friend ever had?

8. What is the worst fight you and your friend ever had?

9. If you don't have good friends, what can you do about it?