Why It Matters What Kinds of Friends Your Child Chooses
By Sylvia Cochran
We live in an age of tolerance and political correctness. Even the Bible forbids us to judge others; however, it does urge the faithful to judge situations and actions. Helping your child choose friends wisely not only matters to her, but also to you, the parent.
Why choose friends?
Friends are not just the pals on the sports team or the folks who love the same singer. Going deeper, these extra-familiar relationships are designed to enrich your life and also give you an opportunity to reciprocate in kind. Friendship offers a chance for personal growth, development and also acts as a support system.
When friendships go well
You know your child’s friendships are going well, when you see him grow emotionally and spiritually. Companions are a source of strength and help the youngster gain perspective in the wake of failure. The child’s friends spur him on to do better (in sports, in school) and are right there with him doing the same thing. They laugh together, are silly together but also spend time being serious together.
When your child’s friends are of the wrong kind
Psalm 55:12-14 teaches that it is easier to endure an enemy’s insults than a friend’s duplicitous nature. Are your child’s friendships dragging her down, becoming a source of anguish and adding to the daily stress? Although there is a lot of talk about bullying in the schools, the wise parent will notice that some forms of bullying are actually done under the guise of friendship.
How to avoid bad friendships
The Bible gives us some practical advice in this arena. Whether or not you are a Christian is immaterial; the truths contained in these words apply to anyone.
- Stay away from fools. Proverbs 13:20 shows that harm is the inevitable outcome of friendship with foolish people. In practical terms, these include the kids who are cutting school, lying to their parents, and purposefully pursuing interests they know are not good for them. The latter is usually done to assert some type of independence from parents.
- Beware the hot-tempered friend. Proverbs 22:24 warns against friendship with someone who is incapable of controlling his temper. If your child’s friend is someone who will hurl insults, scream at others, throw things in a fit, or get into fights, she has all the makings of being bad friendship material.
- Look out for leeches. Proverbs 19:4 teaches that wealth brings many friends. Unfortunately, they are only fair-weather friends. While you do want your child to be generous to friends and classmates, it is advisable to keep a close eye on friends who are only around when your youngster is handing out treats — or when you are paying for an outing. If there is no hand-out, these friends won’t be around.
Why your child’s bad choices in friends will have an impact on you, too
Your child’s ability to choose friends carefully not only impacts his life, but it will also have a direct impact on yours. Proverbs 28:7 talks about a father who is disgraced by his son’s companionship with gluttons. Take the meaning of this teaching to heart; if your child hangs out with friends who are morally depraved individuals, it will bring heartache, frustration and desperation to your own life, especially if junior follows into their footsteps. Moreover, those around you will wonder where you went wrong in your parenting. (Mind you, even if you did not do anything wrong, there will always be wagging tongues.)
In Proverbs 29:3, there is a lesson about a companion of prostitutes who squanders his father’s wealth. Even though this is quite a leap when considering your golden-haired child, keep in mind that your personal wealth will be impacted negatively if you have to pay restitution for your child’s foolish behavior, which is frequently instigated by peers and friends. If you are currently paying good money to send your child to a private school, but your youngster is following after friends who are not spurring him on to do well, but instead lead him astray, the tuition you pay is essentially wasted.
It stands to reason that you will be a wise parent if you help your child pick friends wisely. Do so not just by demanding better choices, but model how to pick friends. Explain why your friends are good friends and bring out the best in you. Of course, if you yourself have not picked your friends with care, this lesson is difficult to teach indeed. Perhaps it is time to clean house in the friendship department for both you and your child? Do it together!
About the Author: Sylvia Cochran is a Christian parent, book reviewer, freelance writer and editor. Having spent her formative years living in Germany and traveling through Europe, she brings a decidedly international flavor to her viewpoints and writings. Catch up with her on the Yahoo! Contributor Network for additional writings on a variety of topics.
The guide for parents/educators on how to peer-proof children and teens is Peer Pressure Reversal: An Adult Guide to Developing a Responsible Child, 2nd Ed.
Her popular book for teens, How to Say No and Keep Your Friends, 2nd Ed., empowers kids to stand out,not just fit in!
A follow-up book for teens, When to Say Yes! And Make More Friends, shows adolescents how to select and meet quality friends and, in general, feel good for doing and being good.
Sharon also has a charming series of five books for elementary-age children each teaching an important living skill and "co-authored" with her savvy cocker spaniel Nicholas who makes the learning fun.Their book on managing elementary-age peer pressure is titled Too Smart for Trouble.