Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Teaching Your Children About Friendships

Here are some wise things that parents can do when their children are young to teach them about friendship:

*Know that God has set you as an authority over your children's associations, and teach them to honor you in that role (see Hebrews 13.17). It is you that must give account for their souls (mind/will/emotions). It is a responsibility God gave you as a parent to allow or disallow wrong friendships. See the many times in Proverbs about parents' direction; what happened to Eli for not disciplining his older offspring; and the blessings of Abraham because God could count on him ("For I know him, that he will command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the LORD, to do justice and judgment; that the LORD may bring upon Abraham that which he hath spoken of him." - Genesis 18.19)

*Teach your children to discern character. Teach them the value of character. Instill character in them. Define it and aspire to it. We had resources to play games and do projects to reinforce building character.

*Teach your children to pray for right friendships. Teach them the value of their family as friends. Teach them the dangers of foolish alliances. Train them to not seek a multitude of associations, but a few good friends.

*As noted earlier, I have always taught my children the wisdom of different levels of friendships. There were many "school friends" where I encouraged my children to be a part of encouraging and being a friend to people at school, however my children were not allowed to develop intimate friendships or go to homes with certain "friends" or "associations" from school where harmful friendships could be developed or where our training and teaching would be negated or undermined.

*Teach your child what makes a good friend. Teach them what to LOOK for in a good friend, and how to BE a good friend. Scripture has a lot to say about what a good friend should be, including:

one who keeps a confidence (Proverbs 11.13);

one who overlooks mistakes (Proverbs 17.9);

one who stands by you when you are in trouble (Proverbs 17.17);

someone not short-tempered (Proverbs 22.24);

someone honest (Proverbs 27.6);

someone who helps you when you are down (Ecclesiastes 4.9-10);

someone walking the same path as you (Amos 3.3).

A good friend rejoices with you and weeps with you and is interested in helping you be the BEST you can be.

*Show your children by your friendships the dynamics of amazing friendships. Your children will see more from how you conduct yourself with your friends than from what they hear you say. Are you willing to go out of your way for your friends in helping them be the best they can be? Do your friends help you be a better person? Are you willing to take a stand when your friends choose something to do or be involved in that would violate your character, morals or principles? Finally, are you willing to walk away from friendships that could lead you down the wrong path? Many times my husband and I have had to stand alone and not be involved in going places or doing things that would diminish the excellence we have chosen in our lives. We have never been sorry.

*As your children get older, be involved but gradually watch as they choose their friends and reinforce the principles you taught them. "Is that person going to make you a better person?" "Is this friend on the same road as you?" If Jesus is NOT Lord, the person will live an entire different set of values, because God's ways are NOT our ways, and He puts a great difference between those that follow Him and those who don't. Is the person growing spiritually? 2 Cor 3.18 tells us we are to go from "glory to glory". Wrong friendships can negatively impact spiritual growth and direction.

*As long as your offspring live in your home, you need to have input into their friendships. After all, if their friends are coming over, or if your children are going off to meet them, it is ultimately your home that will be negatively or positively impacted by those associations. (Joshua 24.15 - " for me and my house, we will serve the Lord!)

*Make your home a center for your children's activities, so that you can have input in their friendships. We made sure we invested in making our home an awesome place for everyone to hang around! Also we never allowed our children to go into other homes all night. We would pick them up later in the evening, and even drop them off early in the morning for something if necessary, but we knew that a lot of bad decisions are made in the middle of the night by adolescents with hormones raging, and we started early by not allowing it. We took stewardship of our children very seriously, and we could not attest to what happened at other homes.

*Train your children to have a heart for others even if they make mistakes. Teach them the wisdom of our Lord Jesus Christ as He died on the cross and was able with His heart towards the people He loved to say, "Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do" in Luke 23.34. The Greek word "do" is poleo, which amazingly shows us that Jesus was not saying they did not realize what they were doing to Him, but He was asking the Father's forgiveness because the people didn't realize what they were doing to themselves! The same word is translated or means: ordaining, making, causing, bringing forth. We need to teach our families the same heart of Jesus that asks God to forgive others because they don't know the seeds they are sowing and what those seeds will bring forth in their lives that will be so hurtful to them! Powerful!

CHALLENGE: Train your children to be a good friend. Train them what it means to find good friends. Use the Word of God to teach them what the "salt of the earth" is, how not to "hide their light under a bushel," what a "sheep among wolves" is, how to shine their light in the "midst of a crooked and perverse generation". Love love love all but be wise who you yoke yourself together with and teach your children that wisdom.

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