Should We Keep This Friendship Or Back Away?

friend-300x237Friendship is one of the most precious gifts that we can give or receive from another. But for the friendship to thrive it must be of value to both parties. In fact if the friendship becomes one-sided – if you are the one that is reaching out or being asked to always do for the other – it may be a sign that the friendship does not have an appropriate give and take. This sort of demand of one party over the other may be an indication that there is an imbalance in the relationship.

For adults we may begin to tire of the giving or we may just feel calmer or happier when we are not around the other person who is always taking from us. If we are a child, we may notice that the other person is demanding all of our time and attention. They may want to play their games only or they may not share very well.

When this happens it may be time to broaden our scope of relationships and look to find those that treat us with respect, are honest and are there for us when we need them. This does not mean that we need to have some kind of big talk with the other person, whether we are an adult or a child. It may mean that we just need to back away a little and take a little break.

There may be times though that we will want to have a talk about the relationship. If this is the case, remembering to be honest and assertive with respect, but not critical, is key to having this kind of conversation. In dealing with kid’s relationships we want to remember that just because we enjoy the company of the parents, does not mean that our kids are going to be or have to be friends. Keeping our adult relationships adult and our kids friends their friends is much healthier for our kids than trying to force them to be friends with someone they do not like or have little in common with, except their parents that like each other.

Life Skills: Friendship – The Definition

Teaching Children Life SkillsEach month we will discuss a life skill with all of our students. This month the word is Friendship. This word will be defined in the following ways for our students.



Young students: Friendship means: “We care and share about each other.”

Older students: Friendship means:   A relationship we choose based on mutual interest, fun, respect, and trust.

Each age group has a worksheet that parents can use to continue the discussion at home with their children, and one for adults to allow them to think more deeply about the skill and how it applies to them. Would you like to receive the worksheet? Stop by our studio at 133 Gibralter Avenue in Annapolis, MD and tell us the age of your child. We will give you a worksheet and invite you to watch Mr. Joe discuss the word with the students in class.  You can also follow our discussions here on this website.

If you would like to become a member of Balanced Life Skills, come TRY CLASSES FOR FREE.   We are not your typical martial arts school, in fact we are an education center, working with our students on physical skills along with empowering families with compassion, awareness and respect. We believe in every child and build their self – confidence.  Balanced Life Skills takes part in community service and encourages each student to do the same.

Come in and talk to the parents that are here and watch the class for the age group you are interested in.  Learn about the Balanced Life Skills Way.

Friendship: Manipulation is not acceptable

Here is the story of two individuals that were “friends”.  Their story line goes like this:

When we first met it was like she saw into me soul, I could say anything and everything thing to her we just clicked and it was just amazing!

After some time she started becoming really negative and forceful, she made me feel bad for certain ways I would feel towards the friendship.

Then she would constantly put me down in front of others and shut down my thoughts so she would be the main point of my life and nothing else.

Then I started constantly feeling unworthy of her friendship.

In our conversations she would always tell me how much she liked the friendship of others, making me think that I was a second rate friend.

I stopped talking to her at one stage and she apologized for what she was doing, but then a few weeks later she started acting the same and would put all her problems on me and make me feel bad.

Have you ever experienced this happen in a friendship?  Do you recognize yourself on either side of this description?  When things like this starts to happen in a friendship it is not a good sign.  In fact one of the parties is manipulating the other and this can lead to real damage being done.  There are three different kind of manipulators, those who need to be needed, wants to be in charge or wants to be pitied and manipulates by appearing to be weak.

Anytime manipulation is involve some one gets hurt.  Manipulation can be seen as early in life as in pre-school and the damage begins to take affect immediately.  It can lead to the victims being bully victims later in school and eventually into being victims of abuse in dating or marriage.  Here is a list of signs of manipulation or an abusive relationship.  This may be in a boy / girl dating relationship, marriage or in a friendship at school, the principles are all the same.

Continue reading “Friendship: Manipulation is not acceptable”

Friendship: Understanding our Differences Equals Peace

We have noted previously that we are going to have differences in our relationships.  They will range from likes and dislikes, to skills, food, holiday’s we might celebrate, and culture of families.  While some like to use the word tolerance when dealing with differences, I prefer to think about the possibilities of ‘understanding’ the differences and then being able to  accept, try and celebrate those differences.

If we take a simple example of one person who is talented in a skill, whether it is a sport, craft, writing, math or whatever it might be, how do we react to that?  Rather than resent the skill they have that we may not have, it would be better to celebrate it with them and give them a “good job’.

Being open-minded about differences in food or culture, could we not embrace it and try it for ourselves, rather than reject it because it is not our norm.  Have you ever tried foods from a different culture?  Have you ever embraced a culture and tried things their way?  If we do not understand what they do or why, would it not be better to ask about it and try to ‘understand’ it?

I once thought about writing a book of comparisons of cultures, religions, holidays, food and activities, because the more I read and experienced the similar I found that all of are.  When approached with an open mind you will find that we have more things that are the same than we do differences.  That results not just in friendship but in PEACE.

Friendship: How to be loyal

When it comes to our friends we rely on the fact or hope that our friends will be loyal.  When we talk about loyally we really mean that we want to feel safe with that person, knowing that when we confide in them that our confidence will be kept and that when needed they will be there to stick up for us and when things get tough they will be there for us.

But with children we need to teach both sides of loyalty.  Children need to know that keeping a secret is part of loyalty unless the person is planning to do something dangerous or unfair to himself or another person.  So how do we teach that, what are the rules that they can follow to keep everyone safe.

The question we are teaching our students to ask themselves when faced with the dilemma of whether to keep a secret or not is:  Is this going to hurt my friend or someone else? If they can learn to answer that question honestly they will know if they should make the secret known to mom and dad or an adult or if they can keep it secret.  Loyalty to a friend means doing everything in the best interest of your friend.

Friendship: What happens when we disagree?

If we have a friend for a very long period of time, there is a strong possibility that we will have moments in that time where there will be disagreements or conflicts in the relationships.  I have personally seen friendships end abruptly in some adults due to all sorts of reasons.   They may go from hurt feelings to taking sides with a mutual acquaintance.  Many times the reasons when looked at through neutral eyes seem very petty and small.

Teaching our children how to deal with conflict in friendships is difficult and much of the teaching is not going to be done with our words – but rather our actions.  They will watch how we deal with our friends, listen to our conversations about others and observe the relationships we have within and outside of the family.  In talking to our students about disagreements we suggested to them that there were three steps that were needed to preserve our friendships.

  1. Ask to talk about it and do so in a calm manner, carefully listening to their side before expressing our own feelings.
  2. Apologize for the misunderstanding and our role in contributing to that misunderstanding.
  3. Fix it. Find some neutral grounds that you can agree on and calmly resolving the issues.

This final step with adults especially may take time to resolve.   It is true that time many times heals the wounds that we are feeling, but we do not want to allow time to replace any efforts we could make to speak with our friends with respect and do what we can to maintain the relationships.