Christian Parenting: Helping Your Child Make and Keep Best Friends
From the Christian Parenting Corner
Helping Your Child Make and Keep Best Friends
by Sylvia Cochran
Do you wish your child was friends with one little kid, but not another one? Are you afraid s/he is starting to run with the wrong crowd? Wonder if best friends are really so hard to find? Wouldn’t you know it; the Bible holds some lessons on the subject!
Questionable Friends – the Low Hanging Fruit
Just in time for summer vacation, you are most likely wondering what your child will do this long, hot summer; whom s/he will spend time with, and also whether or not this is a friendship you support or wish were not so deep. As a Christian parent, you know that bad company corrupts good character, but you might know from experience that best friends are not something that drops from the sky.
Questionable friends are considered the low hanging fruit when it comes to finding age appropriate companionship. If you notice that your child has a lot of fair weather friends, you should know that s/he is going the easy route when it comes to forging friendships. These friends make the child feel good, but the friendships do not offer any deepening of her or his character.
1 Samuel 23:16-18 explains a friendship that did offer not only a deepening of character, but also a strengthening in the faith: it outlines Jonathan and David. Help your child learn to evaluate the friends s/he keeps by virtue of their willingness and ability to help her/him find strength in God and be faithful to Him. If the friends tend to lead the child into temptation to make wrong choices, these are not friends to keep.
Gaining Conviction on the Significance of Friendships
John 15:9-17 records the words of Jesus Christ as He explains His friendship with the disciples. A Christian friendship has godly values as a foundation; it is characterized by open acceptance of the other person, but also the occasional attempt to call them higher. In contrast, a person of many acquaintances will lack this depth of friendship and miss important growing opportunities.
As a Christian parent, it is up to you to instill this kind of conviction in your child. The earlier you begin, the more successful you will be.
Nuts and Bolts of Helping Your Child Make and Keep Best Friends
- Model healthy friendships to your child. If you keep company with crude, foulmouthed, loud, and overall questionable characters that do little to keep you on the straight and narrow, it would be a somewhat misplaced expectation of your child to do better.
- Explain what makes Friend A or Friend B such a good friend. Take it deeper than just that s/he is nice, polite, friendly or likes dogs, but instead relate on a heart level with the child. Keep it age appropriate and do not betray any confidences, but at the same time let your child know that Friend A offers you godly help on overcoming a sin or Friend B loves to pray on the phone.
- Introduce your child to your friends. While your friends come to visit you, they should make the acquaintance of your child. This shows to your child that you are proud of your friends and do not feel like they are something that needs to be hidden from the kids. As your children grow older, they have a better chance at returning this favor.
- Explain about friends – without naming names – with which you have parted ways. Once again, keeping it age appropriate, make the situation a teaching opportunity for your child. Perhaps one friend decided to love money more than God; this is a good time to explain about God having to come first in life, even before friends, money and other things.
- Let your child talk through her or his friendships with others. Remember that God gave you two ears but only one mouth for a reason: listen intently and keep comments to a minimum! Sometimes kids just need to talk through their friends and put into words behaviors they like and those that bug them. Be a sounding board, make biblically based suggestions, but do not forbid a friendship! Just like fair weather friends are the low hanging fruit, the lure of forbidden friendship is like the forbidden fruit in paradise: irresistible!
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