Does this mean that ListNode can access Lists's private members
No, it's the other way around. By declaring List as a friend, the ListNode class gives access to its private members to the List class. It's like an invitation, ListNode invites List into its access-space.
Just think about it as a house. ListNode has a house with private things in it. It declares List as its friend, like giving List the keys to its house and thus access to its private things.
If it were to work the other way (as in, "ListNode can access List's private members"), then it would be the equivalent of ListNode declaring itself the friend of List and inviting itself into List's house. You can't do that, just like you cannot walk up to some stranger's front door and declare yourself their friend and invite yourself in. It always works the other way, they invite you in.
I am working creating a fully encapsulated, homogeneous singly linked data structure. The Listing class and SinglyLinkedList class that are part of the whole application compile fine, but the problem ...