Friends Forever

 A book review by Marti Ahlquist1

Friends Forever is the most practical book we’ve found to assist parents in helping their children learn the skills that are part of making and keeping friends. This is the updated version of the author’s Good Friends are Hard to Find. 

Friends Forever: How Parents Can Help Their Kids Make and Keep Good Friends, Fred D. Frankel, PhD, ©2010, published by Jossey-Bass. ISBN 978-0-470-62450-0 (Kindle version also available.)

“Your child needs friends as much as he needs food and exercise (Frankel, 2010).” This need for friends could be even more important and difficult for MKs/TCKs whose lives often include a lot of moving, both internationally and within the host country and passport country. The best person to help your child develop long-lasting friendships is you, their parent. In this book, the author lays out the steps for parents to take in a number of situations to help children in grades 1-6 develop their friend-making skills.

Fred Frankel is the Director of the UCLA Parent Training and Children’s Social Skills Programs and a professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences. He first wrote the book Good Friends are Hard to Find: Help Your Child Find, Make and Keep Friends, Perspective Publishing, 1996 (out of print). This former edition has been reprinted in five major languages: Arabic, Chinese, Japanese, Korean, and Spanish. Friends Forever is the updated version to encompass the changes in today’s world including such issues such as the effect technology has on children’s friendships. The format of the book is based on the different kinds of problems parents encounter with their child making and keeping friends. In each chapter the author states a problem and then gives suggestions for helping a child with that problem; therefore, you don’t need to read the book from cover to cover to deal with your child’s friendship problem.

Frankel takes a systematic approach to thirty different types of problems that children have that make it difficult for them to develop the right kinds of friendships. These problems range from a child being too busy to have time to make friends, to not knowing how to make friends, to dealing with teasing, bullying and meanness or as the parent helping your child out of trouble.

Each chapter begins with the problem stated. Then background is given to cover the causes and solutions for the problem. Frankel then gives easy-to-follow steps and realistic suggestions for solving the problem. Ideas are given for things to do (schedule play dates) and not do (watching TV/movies or video games, which are not acceptable activities for a play date.) He will also refer you to other chapters if the topics are related or if another problem is the logical one to solve next.

If you have a child struggling with friendship problems, I would recommend this book as a tool to help you train your child in how to develop lasting friendships and solve their own friendship problems. The advice is practical and would be doable whether your family is living in your passport country or overseas. Suggestions could easily be adapted for any nationality or environment.

Permission to copy, but not for commercial use.