How to help your child choose the right friends
Each stage of parenting has its own challenges. Sleepless nights and chasing toddlers soon turn into challenges that reach beyond the home. When our children begin spending time in the care of others, a common concern is, “Are they making friends?” Soon that concern turns to, “Are they making the right friends?”
Children who are focused on Jesus will be drawn to friends who love Him, too.
The Bible teaches us to “start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it" (Proverbs 22:6). We know from our own experiences and from the Bible that friendships are important because they influence our attitudes, thoughts, and actions (Proverbs 13:20, 1 Corinthians 15:33). We want our children to be a good influence on all they come into contact with. When it comes to them choosing their closest friends, their hang out crew, we want to teach our children to have friendships with people who will lead them closer to God.
Tips for Helping Your Child Choose the Right Friends
Lead them to Jesus first.
The most important thing we will ever do as parents is direct our children to Jesus. In relationship with Him, their hearts are formed. Children who are focused on Jesus will be drawn to friends who love Him, too. For specific ideas on leading your children to Jesus, take time to read these awesome tips on shaping a child’s heart and teaching kids about Jesus.
Place them in environments where good friends can be found.
Children are bombarded with influences: kids at school, the Internet, social media, movies, television, friends, friends’ family, and their own family. Provide environments of positive influence. Church youth groups, community groups, and sports teams may be great places to start.
One of the best pieces of advice I have received about parenting children as they grow older is, “Ask lots of questions.” Keep your kids talking. This makes you aware of who their friends are and also opens a way to communicate concerns if they develop close friendships with someone whose influence you question.
Be the parent who the kids hang out with.
This one takes time, money, and patience. Be the mom or dad who lets kids come over to hang out. Be willing to transport your children and friends to events at school or church. The costs have big payoffs. You get to know your children’s friends, get to spend more time with your children, and have a lot of fun in the process.
What a blessing to influence the lives of our children. We have been given a great responsibility along with that blessing. We can’t follow these tips effectively if Jesus isn’t guiding our lives. Jesus said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life” (John 8:12). Allow Jesus to guide your life and ask Him daily to help you guide your children.
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