Are my son’s friends good kids? Does my daughter have friends that are up to no good? And how do I find out these things? These are some of the questions parents have asked me throughout the years. These questions represent a thought process that should have begun long before their children reached adolescence. When I have been asked these questions, almost without exception, they have been asked at the wrong moment; when trouble had reared its ugly head or when the parent found out some disturbing news about their child’s behavior. Reality and what I like to call ‘the Laws of Association,” have taught me a simple truth, “Those I associate with, will influence me.” However, too many parents fail to identify this and never get involved in the selection of their children’s friends.
The parents, both of them, should have been involved in selecting their children’s friends when their children are very young. Choosing your child’s friends is not your child’s job; at least not when they are little. As soon as your child begins playing with someone you should begin to consider the earlier questions and begin observing the behaviors of your child’s friends. In due time, a child’s friends will have an influence on them, however, before that moment arrives the primary influence will be in the home. As your children begin to meet other children you should observe the behaviors of their new friends and the morals of their parents. Remember, “The apple does not fall far from the tree.” It is interesting to hear the conversation of children, raised by involved parents, ask, “Are they from a good family?” If children can understand this simple concept, why do so many parents avoid helping their children choose their friends?
The end goal is simply to help your children make wise choices in the friends they choose. As it is, the parents will set the example in the friends they choose. Later on, as our children grow, our children will exercise their independence and choose their own friends. They will make many other decisions too. They will make mistakes and have consequences to face. Parents should not protect their children from the consequences of their actions. If the job has been done correctly then most of our children’s bad decisions should be fairly small. But, there are no guarantees in this thing called life.
Do you really want to know who your children are friends with? Then do the work beginning when they are young. Parenting is called a job for a reason. If you involve yourself in choosing their friends from the very early years then they will grow up with parents who are involved in their lives. They will have parents who have a proactive knowledge of who their friends are. It is amazing how many of my children’s friends ask about me when they run into one of children. I’m not special; I was just involved.