19. Encourage friendships of high character. “He who walks with wise men will be wise. But the companion of fools will suffer harm” (Prov 13:20). One of our continuing prayers for our children is that they would find and connect with quality friends. We were created for community and friendships are community in action.
We stressed several ideas in teaching our children about making friends. We first explained that they already had a network of close relationships in their siblings. Getting along with their brothers and sisters became a defining criteria if they were going to be allowed to invite new friends over. Developing affirming relationships within your family teaches what true friendship is – loyalty in good times and bad.
We also emphasized the importance of reaching out to be a friend, rather than assuming friendships would just naturally come our way. Sometimes we assume that just by showing up, friendships will be developed. We taught our children to recognize and make the effort necessary to invest in the people they were getting to know.
On the warning side, we taught our kids to beware of fickle friends and to recognize sincerity in potential friendships. We also talked about the balance between being friendly, but also being wary of character issues. The Bible says, “Do not associate with a man given to anger, or go with a hot-tempered man. Or you will learn his ways, and find a snare for yourself” (Prov 22:24-25).
As with most things parenting, the book of Proverbs became an invaluable resource for teaching our children about friendships. In addition, we also explored the “one another” commands of the New Testament for real life encouragement on how to treat our friends in light of what God has done for us.