Why Can’t We Be Friends?

December 19, 2008 at 5:56 am (Parents) (, , )

Pinnochios Bad Friends

Pinnochio's Bad Friends

The prayer of every parent should be that their children will choose good friends. I believe that a significant part of this is due to self-confidence, which we as parents play a role in the development of. A child who isn’t self confident will be more likely to select the friends who select them or whomever is available (regardless of their quality).

There are obviously several factors that go into this development, but I think some of the items I have noticed are:

1) Discipline: While I have strong convictions about means of discipline, I believe that the most basic and essential is consistency. If you are not consistent in your approach to discipline then there is confusion and frustration with boundaries and consequences. A child’s ability to do right and please his parents hinge on their ability to comprehend and comply with the rules. If you are skilfull and consistent in your discipline then you help your children to develop a clear understanding of right/wrong, consequences, moral processing and satisfaction in doing right.

2) Self-Sufficiency: As a child matures in their ability to process and internalize making right choices then you as a parent begin to expand the boundary in which they are enabled to take increased personal responsibility for their own decisions. As a parent, the goal is to bring your children to a point where they are equipped to sustain themselves and make their own decisions (be a functioning adult). Clear foundations for right/wrong, consistent discipline and positive reinforcement allow a child to build within themselves a confidence for doing right.

There is a third thing, which is the basis for my writing this blurb, which recently grabbed my attention. My wife and I had been discussing how to address a developing acquaintance with a family that had a parenting outlook that was opposite to ours, especially in regards to discipline. The child was very unruly, disrespectful and arguably dangerous in his disregard for others. (In case you do not know me, I am a strong believer in the difference between boys and girls, I believe boys are appropriately different from girls and must be allowed to operate as such.) We came to realize that there is a dangerous line in allowing our kids to be around these kinds of children. If you expose your children to persons and other children, on a regular basis – as “friends”, who very obviously do not abide by the principles that you affirm then you are creating confusion. By inviting people into your life that are not of the quality that you esteem, you are creating an example in your actions that persons of lesser character can be our friends. By example you are doing the very thing that you will try to steer your children away from when they are older.

I realize in printing this some might filter this as a form of elitism, perhaps it is, but the weight of this decision is not based upon class or race or the like, the decision is based upon moral factors. Again, we are trying to teach our children that those who are going to be our friends should be of good moral character, persons who will encourage us to do the right things and people that will fight along beside us. Our friends, those whom we let closer to us than others, those we trust more than others, those who will have a more direct and personal access in our lives must be persons who will contribute value into our relationships. Isn’t this the definition of friend, a relationship of mutual and positive benefit?

In closing, I believe that some of the most important influences in my life have been my friends. I have been incredibly blessed to have the friends that I do. As a parent now I desire to instill in my children a friendship sensor that places a high value on quality relationships and recently I was confronted with just how easily we might be sending our children a small but contradictory message towards that pursuit. Something to consider

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