Do You Hang Out with Friends or Fools?
As I look back over my childhood, I recall my mother paying close attention my friends. If she saw that a particular friend would lead to an unhealthy relationship, she would clearly warn me that a bad apple spoils the whole batch. A friend shared with me his mother’s time tested law: God would always provide a great, new friend for every not-so-good-friend that I lost. But I’m not sure where to find that verse in the Bible.
Today’s scripture makes it clear that friends play a vital role in our lives. This is especially true during teen and early adult years. They are no longer little children, but not yet adults either. To fit in, feel valued, develop their “own” identity, teens tend to pick up or adopt many of the behaviors, values, and characteristics of the people they observe and hang around.
This is a difficult age for teens. They don’t understand their limitations. They underestimate or fail to recognize many dangers. Parents allow them to make many more independent decisions than in the past, but must still enforce some boundaries when activities or relationships may cause their teens harm.
We often think peer pressure is silly and cowardly. But just think how many times you let other’s opinions or even fear of rejection influence your thoughts or actions. A recent TV show, “What Would You Do?” features somebody doing something wrong in public; I am amazed that so few adults speak up. Please recognize that peer pressure has a huge impact on your teen. Offer alternative answers to his dilemmas. Do not “put down” your child’s friends. Instead, encourage godly relationships as you help them achieve their inner psychological, relational, and spiritual goals.
Church attendance is very important and should not be optional. Church youth groups can be invaluable sources of godly friends and activities. But they can also be cliquey as well. Encourage your teen to try. Strongly encourage involvement in extra-curricular activities. Sports, band, specialty clubs, dance or music lessons are all possibilities for healthy involvement. Ask questions and take an interest in their activities, and help them process the roles that peers, mentors and activities play.
It can be hard to wrap your mind around why our kids crumble and do stupid things, and why their peers easily influence them. But just look at how many adults cave to societal or peer pressure: keeping 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 also struggle to discern friends from fools and we often don’t model what we preach. Unfortunately, our missteps influence the next generation in major ways.
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 let your relationships adversely influence you … your teen will notice the hypocrisy. Whether you allow God friendly people influence you or you let Satan’s fools influence you is your decision, so choose well … because people, especially your kids, are watching.
My dear heavenly Father, parenting is so hard. It’s a rollercoaster of emotions! There is so much pain when they are traveling on dangerous roads. 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. Give me energy to make regular connections with them, even when I am not interested in their activities. Help me love the friends of whom I do not approve, and remember to pray for them. 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. Proverbs 13:20
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