Raising a Friend: Modeling Good Relationships for Our Kids

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Watching relationships ebb and flow in life is an interesting thing. Some friend and family relationships seem as natural as breathing, and then there are those you have to work a bit harder to maintain. But regardless, relationships come and go in life and it’s important for your child to see how you interact with others and who you surround yourself with.

friendI’ve become aware of the little eyes that watch me with my friends, my family, the bagger at the grocery store, and anyone, really. It had occurred to me that my daughter is looking to me to help her form her own relationships in the future. I am basically a template for her future behavior, and I can only hope I am being a good example.

I have been very lucky with the amount of good friends I have in my life. They make it easy. I hope it’s because they find the type of friend they can reciprocate things with. The saying “Be The Change You Want To See” applies to so much in today’s world, but it has worked like a charm in areas of relationships and friendships for me.

My daughter is autistic and sometimes that can make it difficult for her to relate with other’s emotions. Naturally, it makes me wonder what her future relationships will be like. Will she have those tight knit friendships like I do, or something unique and even better for her? I know it is easier for her to just witness the interactions between others and glean the input that way, instead of jumping in and participating, so when I am trying to display behavior for her, I hope she is seeing that when you are a good friend to people, they are generally good to you.

For my daughter, letting you into her mental world is the highest compliment from her. And when I hear her talking to her stuffed animals and giving them names of people she knows, I know those are the people she considers her friends. She may not outwardly show it yet, but she is applying her friendships to her own imagination in private, and that’s HUGE for a child who generally shuns everyone else from her world. It makes me smile.

When she gets older and starts applying those situations to a real-life friend, I hope she makes kindness her guiding light, and that courtesy and honesty follow in her footsteps. As a mother, I have so many hopes and dreams for my baby, but I really hope she can take away some building blocks of good friendship so that she will have an easier time building her own support system when the time comes. And she can surround herself with the type of people who will reciprocate love and loyalty. Honestly, I think that’s important for all of us.

What other qualities do you have and hope your little one can emulate?

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In her lifetime, Jennifer has lived in the North, East, South, and West of the continental U.S. But the Pacific Northwest stole her heart when she was stationed in Washington with her husband who was in the Navy. Jennifer and Jeff have known each other for 16 years, since middle school, but they have been together for 5.5 years and married for 5 of those. They have an adorably rambunctious and frighteningly intelligent 3.5 year old daughter named Athena Rae. Athena was recently diagnosed as being on the Autism Spectrum. So, Jennifer and Jeff are learning the ropes kind of as they go, as they delve into the world of being special needs parents and advocates for their daughter. Jennifer is a stay at home mom who loves to read and write in any free time that might come her way throughout her days filled with her typical Momming errands and appointments. You can find her personal blog at MommyKeepsItReal.com