We have been talking friends a lot in the Smallwood house. Peer pressure is a force my boys are not immune to in the least.
And, friends are important. We were created for relationship…with God and with others. However, at this stage in life kids begin to rely on their friend’s opinions more than their parents and if we have not taught them how to choose true friends, this can prove to be a big problem.
In Proverbs 13:20 the Bible warns us:
He who walks with the wise grows wise, but a companion of fools suffers harm.
From this verse, it is clear it is important for our children to choose their friends wisely.
That makes our job as parents to teach and model for them how to do so. Often times teens/tweens pick their friends based on their self-esteem. If your child has a self-worth issue (which every adolescent does to some degree or another) they are choosing friends that make them feel good about themselves. Unfortunately, in some cases, they way they may build your child up is by cheering him on while he chugs a beer (or worse).
So, how can we as parents help our children make good choices about friendships?
- Help them define what a good friend is. Jared was having an issue last year with “friends” that were picking on him for their entertainment. We had to sit down as a family and define what a good friend is and what a friend is not. For example, a good friend does not try to bring you down, they build you up.
- Help them understand how they can be a good friend. There are characteristics that a good friend should possess. Loyalty. Honesty. Positive influence. Help your child cultivate these characteristics in themselves so they can recognize them in others.
- Help them conclude that only One’s opinion truly matters. There is so much noise in the world for our kids to filter through- noise about what they should wear, how to be popular, noise through the voice of peer pressure and the media. We need to help our kids construct a What Would Jesus Do filter for all the wordly things they are exposed to on a daily basis.
- Help them remember that they always have the support of their family. School, activities and even church youth group, can be pretty tough places for kids this age to face. Home needs to be a safe place where they are encouraged, loved unconditionally and can talk about whatever challenges they are facing.
One thing as parents we need to never underestimate is the powerful influence our children’s friends have over the choices they make and the path they take. Helping them choose friends wisely is one of the keys to navigating them successfully through adolescence!
Do you have a post about teens/tweens? Feel free to link it up below.