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Character Building - Friendship

( Originally Published Early 1900's )

EVERY mother realizes what supreme objects of interest children are to children; and this is well, for they should not live only with older people, but should have happy relations with those of their own age. And they are such imitators that they are very easily molded by those with whom they come in contact, being either hindered or helped by their associations. The fear of the, boy getting into loose company hangs like a nightmare over thousands of homes to-day. Some parents refuse absolutely to let their boys go out in the evening, feeling that they cannot get into trouble if they are kept at home; but such unjust confinement works its own harm. With good companions the boy is sometimes safer at entertainments at a neighbor's home than if kept strictly in his own house. Encourage games, innocent evening recreations, and outdoor physical sports. Let the boys work off their surplus energy in such natural channels. A boy placed on his honor is always more dependable than one watched and suspected every hour of the night.

If they make vulgar and evil friends, we see them reflected in their own speech and manners; while gentle and truthful ones are as perfectly reproduced. Every child is known by the company it keeps. So let the mother, without prejudice or seeming to be over watchful, know her children's companions and study their character, for only thus can she help in selecting the right sort of friends. But such childish friendships are often fickle; the more enduring ones are usually formed by those in their teens, and it is then that the subject must be faced most seriously and intelligently, and when the mother-love must be most intimate and assertive. The mother is the wise counselor to whom her children look for guidance in right impulses and cool judgment. She should teach them to be kind toward all, but to beware of shallow friendships and of the flattery and insincerity of those who find every one whom they meet "after their own heart." Honest friendship is a passion so intense that it can be shared with but few; but it is well to remember Emerson's remark that "the only way to have a friend is to be one."

Under all its humor, "The Cat and the Mouse in Partnership," Volume I, tells a tale of a mismated pair; and in that volume of the Library will be found "The Straw, the Coal, and the Bean," and "Hans in Luck," which contain warnings against heeding advice from the wrong sort of friends. Several chapters of "Pinocchio's Adventures in Wonderland" (Volume I) point the same moral. In Volume II read "Roland," and in Volume III find the themes of friend-ship in the "Iliad," the "Odyssey," "Emilia" and "Amend-ment." Effects of good and evil acquaintance can be seen in "Oliver Twist," Volume IV, and animal friendships in the same volume are these: "A Field-mouse Tale," "Frisky-toes," "Rab and His Friends," "My Lion Friend," and "Black Beauty." A useful essay in Volume X is "The Choice of Companions." Get by heart some of the poems in the "Friendship" division of Volume XI, particularly "We Have Been Friends Together," "A Wayfaring Song," and "Bill and Joe."

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