Character Chats

Loyalty and trust in a friendship

What is loyalty and trust in a friendship? How do we define it to our kids?

Every month here at True Balance Karate, we have a word of the month as part of our social-emotional learning program called True Character.

This month’s word of the month is friendship. Friendship means, for our younger kids, “we care, share, and work together.” For our older kids we say, “friendship is a relationship we choose based on mutual interest, care, respect, and trust.”

We’re going to talk this week about some things that can be difficult to discuss: What is trust and what is loyalty in a friendship?

What is loyalty?

If a friend is your friend one day but not your friend the other, and then your friend again the next day. Is that loyalty? No.

If you’re home sick and you’ve got to stay home for 10 days, does that mean they’re not your friend anymore? No.

If you’re off playing with other kids and your friend yells out, “Well, you’re not my friend anymore.” Is that loyalty? No.

If you go on vacation for a month and you come home and your friend is really happy to see you and chatted with you on the phone the whole time you were gone, is that loyalty? Yeah.

Loyalty is somebody who sticks with you no matter what. It doesn’t matter if you’re sick, doesn’t matter if you’re tired, doesn’t matter if you went on vacation for a month, they’re still your friend, no matter what.

What is trust?

Trust means you can always expect them to be there and do the right thing.

For example, can you trust a friend to keep your secrets or to tell your secrets? To keep your secrets.

Can you trust a friend to keep their promises? Yeah.

Can you trust a friend to help you when you’re sad or scared instead of laugh at you? Yeah.

Trust is something that’s really important and it’s something that we have to have between friends because then we can really open up and have lots of fun with each other.

Safety and fairness

Loyalty can be a tricky question. Loyalty is an important thing that we hold with each other — that we’re always by each other.

But it’s important to only hold our loyalty when it’s safe and when it’s fair. Sometimes being loyal means we have to get our friend’s help.

Let’s go over a little of what that means.

If your friend says to you, “I am planning a party for one of our other friends, but I don’t want them to know.” Would a loyal friend keep the secret, or share the secret? We can keep the secret. It’s a party.

Let’s say I say to a friend that I really have a crush on Master H. Do you keep that secret or do you share that secret? You keep that secret. Of course, she’s my wife, so I guess that isn’t much of a secret. But you keep that secret. You don’t share it.

Let’s say a friend said to you, “I am going to ride my bike on the expressway tonight and see how fast I can go without telling anyone.” Would a loyal friend keep that secret or share it?

Well, let’s ask, “Is that dangerous? Is that fair?” That’s dangerous. You shouldn’t ride your bike on a highway. So you should probably share that.

What would you do if…

Let’s say a friend said to you, “In the middle of the night, I’m going to sneak out and go hide in the woods and scare my family.” Is that a secret we should keep or share?

Well, that’s probably pretty dangerous. They’re going to freak out their family and they might get hurt. Right? So, as a loyal friend, we should probably share that one.

Let’s say your friend said, “In the middle of the night, I’m going to sneak downstairs and eat the last piece of cake even though dad said he wants the last piece of cake.” Would you keep that secret or share that secret?

Well, a loyal friend is going to keep that secret, but they’re going to tell their friend, “If you go and do that, don’t expect to play on Xbox with me tonight because you’re going to be grounded.”

So, we understand that loyalty — keeping secrets — is something where we have to ask ourselves, “Is it safe? Is it fair?”

If somebody says, “I’m going to steal from someone. I’m going to hurt someone. I want to hurt myself.” Those are kinds of secrets that we know are not safe and fair. And, actually, only a real loyal friend would reach out to try to get our friends help in that situation.

But if it’s something funny, something that would just be a little embarrassing, something they said in confidence and nobody’s going to get hurt, then that’s the kind of secret that we make sure we keep as a loyal friend.

Thanks everybody, and we’ll see you out on the mat.
– Master Helsdon