I love having different kinds of friends.
With some friends, we share a love of books. With others, it’s exercise. With most of my friends, we met or stayed friends because of shared values, religion, or a shared important moment in our history like high school, college, or having kids at the same time.
But no matter what circumstances created the friendship, I’ve found two ingredients that make me want to keep the friend close: good listening and good sharing.
One of those two factors is nice for acquaintances, but not enough for a deeper connection. While recently reading Carin Flora’s book Friendfluence: The Surprising Ways Friends Make Us Who We Are, I smiled as she described what psychologists found as the common thread in “socially successful” kids and adults. To summarize, studies showed that kids and adults who know how to both “shine and let others shine” are the most magnetic.
In other words, I’m not alone in seeking out those who know how to share their thoughts and time and those who are trustworthy and have the patience to listen.
In keeping with the theme of solid friendships, I have a tip for helping my older two kids (they’re eight and six) learn how to both share (“shine”) and listen (let others shine).
After school, I ask them specific questions about their days. Not just how was your day, but what did you do in science? Next I remind them to ask me about my day. It may feel rote at first, but I’m training them to consider the other person in the conversation. I try to lead by example by saying more than I had a good day. They actually have become quite good at asking follow up questions.
Finally, I purposely ask them questions about their friends’ days. What did Daniel decide to do for his research project? Which activity in recess does Ella like best? I hope this helps my kids learn the art of caring about other people and noticing their classmates beyond a surface level.
If I find something great, I love to share it with friends. So in the spirit of friendship and balance, I’m pasting below an (almost) exact copy of an email I sent to a close friend of mine who is very health conscious — and also to two of my friends’ husbands who inquired about the leafy greens I’d mentioned a few times.
I’ve spoken to the three of you about my new leafy green obsession. My favorite of all them is chard (either red or green) because it has a very mild flavor. Here’s what I do with it:
If I have garlic or onions or leeks in the house, I first sauté that with some olive oil. I toss in the chard or some mix of leafy greens, which they now have pre-cut at Trader Joes. Hurray!
After the onions and garlic are a little soft, I add in a BIG pile of leaves. Then I put the lid of the pan on and let it simmer for about 5-8 minutes. Add cheese at the end (a tablespoon or two of gruyere or shredded Parmesan) to just a small part and you’re good to go.
It cooks down to nothing so you need to make a lot. I also think the leftovers are good the next morning with some eggs.