How to Help Your Kids Become Best Friends

by John Beeson

Did you like your siblings when you were growing up? Do your kids like each other?


Every parent wants their children to be friends. One of the best gifts of my childhood was my friendship with my sister. The gift of a playmate and a confidant, of someone to walk through life’s ups and downs with you, is incalculable.


Over time I’ve realized that the gift of my friendship with my sister, Sarah, has paid enormous dividends in my life. It was that friendship that taught me how to navigate conflict, how to apologize and reconcile, how to comfort, and how to navigate long-distance friendship. My relationship with Sarah has always been a touchstone of learning and growth. Looking back on my friendship with Sarah, I realize that is where I learned to be a husband as well.


But how do you raise children who are friends? Many parents are exasperated by the constant bickering, the endless disputes and competition between siblings.


I thought it would be beneficial to get my kids’ perspective on it: a view from the trenches, as it were. One of the first things people comment on about my kids: Camille (20) and Soren (18), is what great friends they are. It’s true. It’s not a show. They have always been best friends. They have navigated their share of difficult seasons, of changes, and have remained fast friends through it all.


Kids and parents alike can benefit from their list of how to be best friends. Their list is italicized with a few comments from myself added underneath.


1.      Find common ground for friendship.

This is great advice: every child is going to be unique and your children’s interests will have natural place of divergence. Working hard to find common ground is important. As our kids’ interests have diverged more and more, they still share a love for Jesus and a love for music.

2.      Treat it like any other relationship.

Isn’t this true? We don’t expect our relationships with our friends to grow and flourish without intentionality. We don’t expect our friendships to be conflict-free. Realizing that our friendship with our siblings isn’t exempt from the realities of any relationship is important.

3.      Never leave things unsaid.

Bitterness and unforgiveness fester in the hurt we bury.

4.      Work out issues on your own.

Parents are usually too involved in arbitrating conflict between siblings. That ultimately hurts those relationships and your children’s ability to navigate conflict on their own. Teach them now to negotiate reconciliation, model it, and then try to pull back.

5.      Give each other space but don’t make them feel ignored.

This is the flip side of the advice about finding common ground. Healthy friendships allow space for friends to pursue their unique interests and that we all need some measure of time alone for reflection.

6.      Be there for each other.

So simple and yet so important. Have eyes to see when your sibling is going through a hard day or a difficult season and be present.

7.      Have fun living life together.

You can’t underestimate the importance of fun in a relationship. Make memories! Do crazy things! The home should be the place where you laugh the hardest and act the silliest.

8.      Get to know each other.

As people we are ever-changing and ever-growing. Don’t expect your sibling to remain static. On the contrary, lean into them with the expectation that they are growing and create space to listen to what they are learning, to their dreams, and their fears.

9.      Learn how to compromise.

Compromise can be a bit overrated. The ultimate posture should be of selfless servanthood. Compromise, when done out of a selfless heart, and not a “I’ll give you what you want only if you give me what I want” heart, is an invaluable skill.

10.  Respect one another.

Every human being deserves respect. And friendship chokes out when respect isn’t present. Sometimes those we are closest to are those we struggle respecting the most because their flaws loom large to us. Make sure you see and affirm what is worthy of respect in your sibling.


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