August is the month before school starts so we purposefully dedicated it to relationship skills. We want our children to know how to talk to kids at school, how to build healthy friendships, what to do to BE a great friend, etc.
For our first family home evening, we talked about friendship. We read 1 Samuel 18:1-4 and 1 Samuel 19:1-4 and asked, “How was Jonathan a good friend to David?” We really simplified it for Caleb. We said he shared his stuff with David (gave him a sword, clothes, etc) and said good things about David to his father. We never make fun of our friends or let other people talk bad about them. We stick up for them. We tell our friends how great they are and tell other people how amazing they are. Jonathan also warned David about an evil plan against him. When our friends are doing something bad or we know of something that could hurt them, we need to love our friends enough to speak up and warn them. We don’t let our friends hurt themselves.
We had a group discussion about what a good friend is, how to choose good friends (and avoid bad ones), and why it’s so important to be a friend to EVERYONE. Then we had Caleb practice what he would say to someone he doesn’t know. We had him practice sitting by a “friend” and saying, “Hi, my name is Caleb. What’s your name? I like to _________ (usually he said go swimming). What do you like to do?” I want him to practice introducing himself so he’s not as scared to introduce himself to fellow classmates. We are going to practice this every day at dinner so he knows some things he can say to people. We also taught him to smile at them and look them in the eye when he talks.
Another great addition to this family home evening was the topic “Friends” from the “For the Strength of Youth” pamphlet:
Everyone needs good and true friends. They will be a great strength and blessing to you. They will influence how you think and act, and even help determine the person you will become. They will help you be a better person and will make it easier for you to live the gospel of Jesus Christ. Choose friends who share your values so you can strengthen and encourage each other in living high standards.
To have good friends, be a good friend. Show genuine interest in others; smile and let them know you care about them. Treat everyone with kindness and respect, and refrain from judging and criticizing those around you. Do not participate in any form of bullying. Make a special effort to be a friend to those who are shy or lonely, have special needs, or do not feel included.
As you seek to be a friend to others, do not compromise your standards. If your friends urge you to do things that are wrong, be the one to stand for the right, even if you stand alone. You may need to find other friends who will support you in keeping the commandments. Seek the guidance of the Holy Ghost as you make these choices.
As you strive to live the gospel, you will encourage your friends to do likewise. Set an example of keeping the commandments, participating in Church activities, preparing to serve the Lord throughout your life, and remaining worthy to attend the temple.
Invite your friends of other faiths to your Church meetings and activities. Help them feel welcome and included. Many people have joined the Church through the example and fellowship of their friends. Also make a special effort to reach out to new converts and to those who are less active.