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A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.

Proverbs 17:17 (NIV)

As a mom, I delight in watching my son deepen his friendships. This year in Kindergarten, he’s grown close to two boys in his class–one a friend since he was a toddler and the other a new friend he made at the beginning of the school year. Each week, the boys and the moms meet for a play date after school. Not only have the boys grown closer to one another during these gatherings, but we moms have forged a bond that will surely last for many years to come.

Often, the boys play heartily together during these play dates, taking turns to swing across the monkey bars, swish down slides, scale mounds of rocks, climb trees, wade in shallow streams, and yep, slosh in some mud.

But sometimes there’s those not-so-pretty moments during the play dates when the boys squabble over who gets to go first or when one boy feels excluded from the activities of the others. The boys can at times get physical in expressing their wants and hurts.  During these moments, we moms step in to “teach” our boys how friends are to treat one another.

Sometimes our boys will respond in the way we desire, but other times they don’t. They don’t always want to apologize right away, and they’re not always willing to forgive immediately. But when they eventually come around to apologizing or forgiving–and they always do–they press on in their friendships as if nothing ever happened between them (a great lesson for us adults :0).

This last week I read the story in 1 Samuel about the friendship between David and Jonathan, and I thought about how these two Bible characters provide a godly example of how friends should treat each other. The Bible tells us that when David and Jonathan met each other, they formed a strong bond to each other immediately. 

(1) After David had finished talking with Saul, Jonathan became one in spirit with David and loved him as himself. (2) From that day Saul kept David with him and did not let him return to his father’s house. (3) And Jonathan made a covenant with David because he loved him as himself.  (4) Jonathan took off the robe he was wearing and gave it to David, along with his tunic, and even his sword, his bow and his belt.

~ 1 Samuel 18:1-4 (NIV) ~

In 1 Samuel 20, we see Jonathan’s loyalty to David. When Jonathan discovers his father, King Saul, plans to kill David, Jonathan helps David escape.  Jonathan goes out to the field for his meeting with David and delivers the sign that King Saul does, in fact, plan to kill David. When the two friends meet each other in the field, 1 Samuel 20:41 says “they kissed each other and wept together–but David wept the most.”

Before David leaves, Jonathan says to him, “Go in peace, for we have sworn friendship with each other in the name of the Lord, saying ‘The Lord is witness between you and me, and between your descendents and my descendents forever'” (1 Samuel 20:42).

As I read this passage in the Bible, I thought about how extraordinary this friendship was, especially given the circumstances. This is the type of friendship I hope for–not only for myself but also for my son.

As moms, one of the important responsibilities we are charged with is teaching our children what it means to be a true, loyal friend. As you know, this begins when they are young, and I’m sure this is something you are already doing with your child. I’d like to challenge you to take some extra time this week to highlight friendship to your child–the value of friendship and what it means to be a good, loving friend.

Here are some ideas of activities you can do with your child to highlight friendship:

  • Read to your child the story about David and Jonathan’s friendship in the Bible (1 Samuel 18:1-4 and 1 Samuel 20). Talk to your child about how special this friendship was and ask her questions about the things she can do to be a good, loyal friend.
  • If you have a copy or can borrow one, read Little David and His Best Friend by Crystal Bowman to your child (or if your child is already reading, have him read it to you).  This book tells the story of a mouse name David and his best friend Jon, how their friendship blossomed and how David had to leave his dear friend Jon because the king was mad at David and Jon feared he may hurt him.  (Yep, this a child-friendly version of the story of David and Jonathan in the Bible.)
  • If you have a copy or can borrow one, read The Dragon and the Turtle by Donita K. Paul and Evangeline Denmark to your child. This book–a favorite in our home–tells a sweet story about prioritizing the needs of a new friend over your own. After embarking on a pirate adventure, a young turtle named Roger cannot find his home and seeks help from his newfound friend, Padraig the dragon. Padraig flies high in the sky in search of a home that looks, sounds, smells, feels, and tastes like the one described by Roger. Padraig is hungry for crunchy, squishy, nutty bugs, but he sets asides his needs to help his friend find his home.
  • Talk with your child about ways she can show appreciation to the friends in her life. Here’s some ideas for your child:
    • Make a batch of cookies and share them with your friends.
    • Invite your friends over for a party to celebrate your friendship with them.
    • Make a special handmade card for a friend.