Your kids' friends will shape who they become. How do we help them choose wisely?
How about finding a way to turn a negative into a positive?!
As parents we are always concerned about the problem of peer pressure. For good reason.
We know what the scripture says (i.e. bad company corrupts good morals. 1 Corinthians 15:33) , and we know what happened in our own lives (i.e. we either got caught up in the wrong crowd or watched others get shipwrecked.)
But our kids will often say....
"But Mom, he is my friend!"
It is entirely age appropriate and necessary for our children to form friendships and learn to build relationships. The problem is they are inexperienced in the process and prone to naive errors.
So .....here is our helpful conversation #3: We must teach them about the concept of the levels of friendships. Who can we borrow some expert knowledge from to help us with this task? Interestingly enough, a casual Google search proves that "levels of relationship" is a concept talked about by everyone from the marketing world to the ministry world. I suppose everyone has their own theories and terms.
For me, a simple bull’s eye chart makes a lot of sense. Of course, it is very difficult to get all relationships to neatly fall on the classification chart, but I think you can get the idea. By way of discussion, let’s say there are 5 levels of friendships and we use these labels:
1. Casual friend
2. Good friend
3. Confidant friend
You may like other labels better, but pick one set and run with it. Then help your kids correctly identify the characteristics of each level and who is currently in each level of friendship. This is highly diagnostic as you check their ability to discern!
Here Are Your Tools:
- 20 Bible Verses on Friendship
- 5 Levels of Friends Article
- Facebook Friends vs. Real Friends - Podcast
- When Teens Are Lost - Podcast
- Stages of Friendship
Be prepared. They won't "get it" without your help. They will need your wise counsel to help them draw correct guidelines as they learn to manage their own relationships.
I am personally not a fan of the BFF concept, as I think it causes so much confusion and pain. Can you see a way to mature that image in their mind using this chart? And while you are at it, help them to place online friends on the chart.
We all know that friends enter and exit our lives as seasons of life change. But kids do not know this. Help them to understand that when friends leave or seasons change, it does not define them.
And here is a big one: I truly believe that siblings and parents belong on this friend chart.
Parents are to be the closest of mentors. And as some of my children have grown and launched, they are discovering that siblings are for life (level 3)....while friends move on.
How can you help your children cultivate healthy confidant-level friendships with their siblings this school year even as they may meet other new friends?
Send us your response to this conversation and be watching for "Conversation #4" in your inbox tomorrow!
Image: “blue brothers” woodleywonderworks via Flickr Creative Commons
License: Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0)
We just finished our summer tour and are finalizing our fall & spring tour schedule! If you are interested in having Frontline Family Ministries come to your church, school, or event please call Lucas Cherry at 618-525-0002 or email him at Lucas@FrontlineFamilies.com. Here is a link to our speaker packet: SPEAKER PACKET