As I look back over my childhood, I recall my mother paying close attention to those I selected as friends. If she saw me making friends with someone she thought was not a healthy relationship, she would gently wean me away from that person. She would tell me that God would always provide two new great friends for every not-so-good-friend that I lost. Not sure where that verse is in the Bible.
Today’s scripture makes it clear that our choice of friends plays a vital role in our lives. This is especially true for teenagers. They are no longer children, but they are not yet adults in judgment either. To fit in, feel valued, and develop their “own” identity separate from their parents, or to figure out who they are, teens tend to pick up or adopt many of the behaviors, values, and characteristics of the people they are observing and hanging around.
This is a difficult age for teens. They don’t understand their limitations and underestimate or fail to recognize many dangers. Parents will allow them to make many more independent decisions than in the past, but must still enforce some boundaries when there are activities or relationships that could cause their teens harm.
Recognize the peer pressure that will be placed on your teen, and offer alternative answers. Do not “put down” your child’s friends, but rather encourage godly relationships.
Church attendance is very important and should not be optional. Church youth groups can be invaluable sources of godly friends and activities. Encourage your teen to take part in these. Strongly encourage involvement in extra-curricular activities. Sports, band, specialty clubs, dance or music lessons are all possibilities for healthy involvement.
If you are having a hard time wrapping your mind around why our kids crumble and do such stupid things and are easily influenced by their peers, just look at how many adults act. Trying to keep up with the Joneses, playing games and politics in the workplace, gossiping, influencing others to engage in inappropriate work practices, having affairs at work. We adults struggle with discerning friends from fools and we often don’t model what we preach.
Today, focus on being involved as a family in godly activities with godly people who have kids the same age as your teenager. Examine the friendships and the relationships that influence your behavior. Are you proud of what you are doing? Don’t have ungodly relationships…your teen will notice the hypocrisy. Your decision, choose well.
My dear heavenly Father, Please lead my children, regardless of their ages, into relationships that will influence them in a positive way. Give me wisdom to guide them and courage to protect them. Help me love the friends I do not approve and remember to pray for them, also. I pray this in the name our perfect friend, Jesus Christ; and all God’s children say – AMEN!
Become wise by walking with the wise; hang out with fools and watch your life fall to pieces.
Anyone who claims to be in the light but hates his brother is still in the darkness. Whoever loves his brother lives in the light, and there is nothing in him to make him stumble.
1 John 2:9,10