If you watch the news and you see an arrested teen caught with drugs, a drunk teen being put into a police car, or a tearful conversation about teen pregnancy, the conversation most likely starts with… “I had these friends.” Teens don’t realize that the high school friends they choose determine so much of their success in life. Friends seem to influence both good and bad lifelong habits for our kids. As parents we need to teach, model, and be very involved in our kids’ selection of friends.
This is the second installment of my series Six Conversations to Have with Your Teen Starting High School. Parents, we all know the idioms and proverbs… “Birds of a feather flock together,” or “a man is known by the company he keeps.” Perhaps we have read from the Bible, “Bad company ruins good morals.” (1 Cor 15:33 ESV) or “Whoever walks with the wise becomes wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm.” (Pro 13:20 ESV) And yet, we don’t investigate, influence and encourage our kids to be very selective in whom they choose as close friends.
Now before the hate comments come, I am not advising you to teach your kids to shun classmates that are not on the up and up. But I am advising and screaming from the rooftops that their closest friends must be Godly, moral, goal oriented kids to have a positive influence on their success. Furthermore, you must know the parents of your children’s closest friends very well. My kids’ classmates’ parents, whom I barely know on a first name basis, would consider me crazy if I asked to borrow their brand new 2014 C-Class Mercedes-Benz for 24 hours. And yet those same parents, based on a 30 second texting conversation, would let their teenage daughter have an overnight in my house based on my daughter’s request alone.
Parents, don’t just let these close friendships happen randomly. Take some one-on-one time out and really get to know your kids friends. Make this a regular discussion with your teen. If you don’t like what you see then change their environment, change their activities, place them in other areas of influence. Give them alternatives for them to make better friend choices like church, youth groups, extracurricular activities, sports and clubs.
My pastor, Ed Young Jr. of Fellowship Church, coined the phrase, “Show me your friends, and I’ll show you’re your future.” I believe that statement with all my heart. He goes on to tell a real eye-opening story about his friend named Larry in a series called “Bridges.” Please click this link as Pastor Ed can tell it better than I ever could. The story starts at the 7 minute marker. Its five minutes well spent!
That’s pretty hard hitting, isn’t it? We all see these kids on the news every night. BE intentional with your kids. Now is the time to make a difference. Have this conversation with your teen, preferably more than once, about picking the right kind of friends before high school. This will start them on the right road with the right friends, which is their most SUCCESSFUL option.
As a teen, how did your friends influence or derail your success?
Fred Campos is father to three and primary custodian to his daughter Caitlyn from a previous relationship.