Throughout Aristotle's examination of friendship in Nicomachean Ethics, he refers to the friendship between a parent and a child in a number of different ways. Aristotle believes that there are three different kinds of friendship. One type is a friendship based on the use one friend has for anther. In this case, two people are friends because they give an advantage to the other or serve some useful purpose. An example of this would be a person who is friends with someone because he is popular or has a lot of money.
Another type of friendship is based on pleasure. This kind occurs when two people are friends because of the pleasure they bring to each other. As soon as the friendship brings less pleasure to one of them, the friendship will dissolve. The last type of friendship is based on the goodness of the two people. It forms when one decent person loves another decent person.
This is the only lasting and true form of friendship. A good friendship can come from a friendship that starts out as pleasing or useful. All friendships require time to develop and grow, but only good friendships will endure over time. Early in Nicomachean Ethics, Aristotle points out the difference between love and friendship. He uses the same three categories for describing what is lovable as he used for friendship: good, pleasant and useful.
There are some differences though. While it is possible to love something that has no soul, it is impossible to form a friendship with something that has no soul. Love can be for anything, while friendship is restricted to only those things that have a mind and soul. A defining characteristic of friendship is its reciprocality. After further examination Aristotle goes on to say, "Loving would seem to be a feeling, but friendship a state," and, .".. reciprocal loving requires decision, and decision comes from a state; and what makes [good people] wish good to the beloved for his own sake is their state, not their feeling (1157 b, 29-33)." The feeling of love can come quickly and go quickly, and it alone is not enough to establish a friendship in which one person wishes good for the other person's sake.
Friendship is a conscious choice and requires unselfishness on each persons' part in order to be truly successful. Aristotle concludes that true friendship based on goodness only happens between equals. This is. because, according to Aristotle, the most important quality of a friendship is reciprocality. When two people are friends, but one is superior, the other must recompense more abundantly. Eventually, if the difference between two friends became great enough, the friendship would no longer be reciprocal and therefore would not be considered good.
This is why Aristotle did not categorized the friendship between parents and children as good. "The friendship of children to a parent.