There is something very precious about friendships that are borne during the age of innocence; something very unpretentious and unassuming about them and if properly nurtured, these kinds of relationships can last a lifetime.
Maybe it has something to do with the fact that it is hard to 'feel superior' to someone who knew you when you did not even know how to clean your own nose properly and if by chance you have both grown and matured at the same pace - there's a richness to be found in numerous childhood memories that only serve to strengthen the bond.
For a child, having someone in your corner during the turbulent growing up years is a God sent indeed. As is well known, children tend to be quite ruthless with each other and those children who are not capable of forming their own alliances are often relegated to the ranks of boredom and are more often than not seen as misfits. This is normally a very lonely, unhealthy existence for any child.
It is therefore very important for parents to encourage their children to make friends with their peers. This is beneficial to the child because the process of establishing these alliances makes him/her acquire a sense of self importance.
This happens as the child ventures out of the home in a bid to form an identity that is totally separate from the parents, it is pretty rewarding to them when they find acceptance from their equals.
The parent's role in this entire process varies depending on the child's age and will continue changing as the child grows. In the formative years of a child's life, the parent's role should be one of enablement; the parents need to recognise this as a natural process.
This is a psychological task that requires the child to separate - though not entirely - from their primary care giver and mingle with other people. The parent should therefore not keep their child under lock and key, rather allow them to go out and play.
As the child matures and approaches the pre-puberty ages, issues like sleepovers become a common request and parents therefore need to take on a more supervisory role.
With each developmental stage, a child is exposed to new social environments that they are required to successfully navigate if they are to thrive.
A parent should not attempt to shield their child from this, rather they should aim to always be one step ahead. Establishing and setting necessary limits to aid the child along and stepping in only when need be."
During the turbulent teenage years, the need for friendships is at its peak and most teens will do anything to form friendships which most times are indicative of a child's popularity.
At this stage, a parent's role is still supervisory but now takes on a guidance angle; the parents begin to mould their child towards being a young adult.
This is necessary because as one approaches their young adult years, it is important to have outgrown fear and a general mistrust of people.
These are lessons leant as one relates with peers during their teens which helps to re-enforce a sense of self-confidence, competence and independence.
At this stage, a parent who observes something wrong with their child's friend should take the time to point out the wrongs to their child as opposed to issuing a 'persona non-grata' rule without explanation.
Though normally an unpleasant scenario, the experience will teach your teen how to identify certain traits in people which in the long run better equips them for adulthood.
A parent's job is never totally done but one of the key responsibilities is to raise up children able to stand on their own two feet as individuals.
The process and formation of childhood friendships is one of the best ways that nature has provided for this to happen and parents need to as much as possible be supportive of their children in this.