(This post was written by Chuck Carringer, Pastor of Family Ministries)
Parents, do you like the qualities you see in your children’s friends? This is a question of great significance because the primary reasons our children (and ourselves) select friends is because they have a connection usually centered around common interests. The more time children of any age spend together the more they will pick up the qualities, attitudes, and habits of their friends. Depending on our children’s level of self esteem and security, they may be prone to forming close friendships with children who possess oppositional values. Because our children lack wisdom and require training, we as parents must be proactive regarding their relationships. I support and even encourage my children’s friendships with children of like values and attitudes. Conversely, I discourage or prevent my children from spending discretionary time (outside of school or church) with people I believe would be a potentially negative influence.
In my experience, the child with the stronger personality will influence their friend to adopt some of their attitudes and habits. Parents, I believe that each of us should examine our children’s significant friendships and consider the following:
- Do you like the qualities (attitudes, habits, values) that you see in your child’s friend?
- If the answer to #1 is yes, continue to monitor the relationship while supporting this friendship.
- If the answer to #1 is no, make an assessment regarding who has the stronger personality – your child or their friend?
- If your child has the stronger personality and will, monitor their friendship closely while encouraging your child to be a positive influence to their friend in specific areas that need attention.
- If the answer to #1 was no and the answer to #3 was their friend, I would share concerns with my child and greatly limit (they could only spend time together in my presence) or completely eliminate their time together.
Note: Since dating relationships by our older teenage/young adult children have the potential to greatly harm them, it is vital that we have the necessary influence with our older kids. Read more about influencing our older children here.
Because of the potential impact (positive or negative) by our children’s friends, we must be intentional and involved in our parenting. Are you comfortable with the effect that your children’s friends are having?