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Gerardo Castillo Ceballos, Professor Emeritus of the School of Education and Psychology of the University of Navarra.

Is it necessary to educate for a life of friendship?

Mon, 14 Mar 2016 14:38:00 +0000 Published in Diari de Tarragona

Plato and Cicero opened with golden pages the endless authorship of books on what is friendship. It is therefore surprising that the same has not happened with their Education. This moved me to write and publish at the time: "The Education of friendship in the family". 

I suspect that this omission is related to the cliché that friendship is a kind of wild plant that arises and develops spontaneously and self-sufficiently; it would not need to be cultivated. To be a good friend and have true friends would not require any subject of effort, virtue, or educational guidance; it would be enough to be nice.

Many parents are not aware of the possibilities and risks of their children's friendship life. Good test of it is that in their periodic interviews with the teacher-tutor they usually talk about the performance in the study, but never or almost never about their friendships.

The few parents who are interested in this topic do it late: when their teenagers already have some serious problems in their friendship life. Today's children tend to be more precocious in accessing life experiences, which often leaves their naïve parents "out of the loop". An example in core topic of humor:

-The father: my son, the time has come for us to talk about the origin of life.

What do you need to know about this topic?

If the Education aims to prepare for a happy life, it is essential to train children in time for that source of happiness that is friendship.

What basic ideas and criteria do parents need to know about friendship and its Education?

Friendship is a modality of love. What is specific to friendship is unselfish affection. The friend is not loved as something useful or pleasurable, but in an altruistic way.

Although friendship implies affection, affection is not the essence of friendship. The essence of friendship is correspondence between friends. If affection and benevolence are not mutual, reciprocal, there is no friendship. Aristotle put it this way: "Two marching together".

To that person freely chosen and with whom there is a spiritual affinity, the friend gives not simply something of what he has or what he does, but something of what he is, something of himself. To the friend is given what is most proper and staff, what is most interior: intimacy. Friendship entails a exchange of confidences; a loyal and open communication of the secrets of the heart; a gift of one's intimacy; a mutual revelation of the soul.

In friendship there is an unwritten "code of ethics": one must be sincere, generous, loyal and respectful to one's friend. True friendship is a virtue of virtues.

What is the "test of fire" of friendship? 

One test is that of time. If the friendship is true, it lasts through the years.

Another test: if a relationship results in the continuous improvement of both - as people and as friends - it is an unmistakable sign of true friendship.

A third test is that of difficult times. The good friend does not move away when life is no longer smiling on the other, while the bad friend distances himself.

An authentic friendship is a permanent educational status . In it, mutual encouragement to do good is given. Wise" parents educate their children with the partnership of their children's good friends.

What possible educational goals can parents set for themselves at topic of friendship? I suggest the following:

1.That they have friends.  

It is necessary to educate without protectionism, since dependent children do not know how to adapt to the needs of others. The preventive task also includes encouraging children to be open: to get out of the house and to "go out" of themselves, opening up to others.

2.That they have goodfriends. 

It is advisable to put them on contact with good environments: choose with good criteria the high school and make sure that they spend their free time in "healthy" places. But it is not a matter of parents choosing their children's friends, as this is very staff.

3.That they are good friends.

Parents should discard the idea that bad friends are always other people's children.

Some media:

  • The good example of parents in their life of friendship. 

  • Books that tell stories of true friendship.

  • The development of human virtues especially necessary for the life of friendship, such as sincerity, loyalty and generosity.

  • To make compatible the children's friendship life with the family life.