Does my child really need friends? Aren’t her sisters or brothers enough?
When trying to create a barometer of “who is most likely to succeed in life,” people often think that externals were most important. What kind of car you drive, how big your house is, what kind of (designer) clothes you wear—these are the things that attract people. Others think that academics are the most important factor in determining future success; the straight-A student is guaranteed to be the future CEO. Yet others think that a family’s name or yichus was the most determining factor.
In reality, study after study has shown that the ability to get along with all kinds of people and make friends wherever one goes is the single most important area which determines one’s future success in life. So the basic answer to the above question is yes, we need friends besides our siblings.
What are the advantages of having friends? In short, friendship is earned, while family just happens. Friends provide an external validation of who we are, while with family, the love is more apt to be unconditional. A good friend is a sounding board for us, and helps keep us in balance. With friends, we get to appreciate people who are different from us, and thus, our horizons are broadened. People without friends are more known to drop out of school and engage in alcohol and substance abuse. People without good friends are very often lonely adults.
Chazal tell us “Kneh licha chaver,” but some people struggle to do this. Chazal also tell us beforehand, “Aseh l’cha rav.” Some people need a rav, a mentor, in order to learn how to make a friend, how to join a group or a conversation, how to bond with another.
I’d be happy to give you some tools to enable you or your child to find the right friends and vastly improve your quality of life!