One of my favorite books as a child was Beverly Cleary’s “Ellen Tebbits”. If you haven’t read the book, you should…soon. If your children haven’t read the book, they should…soon. You can even read it together!
Anyway…Ellen, the book’s main character, is missing her best friend who recently moved away and is terrified one of the girls in her dance class is going to discover her horrible, terrible secret—that she has to wear long underwear. Or even worse, her secret might be discovered by Otis Spofford—the ornery boy in her class who just happens to be her dance teacher’s son. But then she meets the new girl—Austine. And as luck would have it, Austine shares Ellen’s secret—her mother makes her wear long underwear, too!
Throughout the book Ellen and Austine share secrets, go on a few adventures, learn how to compromise, share, embrace each other’s differences, and they learn that friendship is about honesty, communication, and forgiveness. In short, they learn how to be and have a best friend.
The best part about this story, however—or the one I want draw your attention to—is this: Ellen and Austine were allowed to navigate their friendship and solve their problems without their parents interfering and intervening in their struggles. There were no threats of law suits, no demands for mediation and no taking it to someone like Judge Judy (which actually happens from time to time).
Ellen and Austine didn’t ask for or ‘need’ that kind of
They worked things out on their own…well, sort of. I know I’m reading between
the lines on this one, but I’m going to go out a pretty sturdy limb and say
that Ellen and Austine were able to work out their own problems because of the
integrity and principled character they were exposed to at home, at school, and
even in Mrs. Spofford’s School of Dance.
Because this book was written in the early 50s these things (integrity and principles) were assumed to be part of a child’s home life. It was assumed that the girls would be able to work things out given the time and opportunity to do so. Unfortunately that’s often not the case these days. But it doesn’t have to be that way.
As parents you have both the right and responsibility to blanket your children with an atmosphere of integrity, compassion, kindness, humility, and a heart that isn’t too proud to forgive. Another way to put it is like this: As parents one of your goals should be to parent in such a way that your children’s ability to handle the ups and downs of friendship honorably will be ‘automatic’ because that’s just the kind of person they are. AND the reason they’re that kind of person is because that’s the kind of person YOU are.
Friendships—especially between children and a double-dose of ‘especially’ when it comes to girls—are full of ups and downs. But if parents do their job like Ellen and Austine’s parents obviously did, we’ll soon discover we don’t have a need for certain types of reality shows (and I use the word ‘reality’ loosely). I think you know which ones I mean. J
Copyright 2016 Darla Noble. No part of this can be used or copied without permission from the author.