Parenting Advice: Pick your kids friends

In the life of your child there are few as important as the friendships they will form. One of the things I have seen in seeing kids grow up in our church is that the kids who chose their friends wisely did much better through their teen years. I look at all the kids that are friends with my kids now and I look at their lives because I realize that one day those kids will have as much or more influence in the life of my kids and you know what that scares me.

I remember when the realization of a truth that really revolutionize my view of who my kids friends will be hit me. It sort of happened in an unorthodox fashion, I heard someone say to a kid, “You can pick your nose, and you can pick your friends but you can’t pick your friends nose.” It was through that disgusting little statement I felt God speak to me that I need to help guide and if need be eliminate friends from my kids life. I think most parents think that may be to harsh but I don’t care. I pray over my kids every day that they will make “Good friends and wise choices with God’s help.”  I think we as parents underestimate the power of friendship to our own detriment. Jr. High and High School are a psychotic alternate universe where nothing makes sense and everything is the end of the world. If they don’t have a group of friends in their life that is grounded in the same mindset and values more than likely you kids are going to have a hard time.

I love my kids enough that no matter who the parents are of the kids my kids are friends with if I feel those kids are not going to be part of that group that shares the same values I will talk to the parents of that kid no matter how awkward the conversation would be. I care more about the long term health of my kids than what the parents of my kids friends think of me. When you look at the kids who are friends with your kids now as future partners in the development of your kids it changes your perspective. So parents pick your kids friends don’t leave something this important to fate or chance.

Practical steps to picking your kids friends –

1. My kids will NEVER go to another kids house for a sleepover, if a sleepover happens it happens at our house.
2. As much as possible drive you kids and their friends around when they need a ride.
3. Do what you can to provide an environment in your home that your kids want to stay home and your kids friends want to come over
4. When your kids are small spend time with families who have kids you admire at the same age of your kids. Proximity is huge in forming friendships young.
5. Teach your kids who is a good friend and who isn’t
6. Teach your kids what qualities go into a good friend and how to be a good friend. Who you are is who you attract.
7. Resolve to always care more about what the well being of your kids than the feelings of the other parents involved.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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16 thoughts on “Parenting Advice: Pick your kids friends

  1. This is an issue where I would respectfully disagree with the extent to which I would go to help my children cultivate healthy friendships. In my experience interacting with parents and learning about and from parents as well as what I am learning along the parenting journey, I think taking an approach that goes as far as I think you are advocating can backfire. Don't get me wrong, I agree that healthy peer relationships with "good" peers is essential. I just don't agree that we should go as far as to "eliminate friends from my [kids' lives]." I also think your tips are great, except for the first one. Larry Shallenberger had a post a while back that I resonate more with http://bit.ly/ik6qch. Personally, I think we as parents try too hard out of the greatest intentions but may end up keeping our kids from having a more holistic view on mission and our role in the world when we try, in my estimation, too hard to protect and shield them.

    • Henry I might not have been clear enough. I think Larry put it much better than I. The kids your kids grow up with in the elementary years will be their friends in Jr. High and High School. Why not use the elementary years to teach them what a friend is, how to be a good friend and put them in proximity with good friends.I am by no means a helicopter parent. Letting your kids fail and helping them back up is all part of it. That being said one thing I will not do is let my elementary age kids do sleep overs, they can learn about the world other ways, every family is different no sleep overs until at least Jr. High is a non-negotiable at our house.

  2. Henry, I think it has a lot to do with the age of the kids. I'm more restrictive with my first grader than I am with my middle schooler or high schooler. When they are preschoolers you definitely get to pick their friends. Somewhere during the elementary years you choose those friends together. By upper elementary and beyond you are more of the coach.

  3. I'm pretty sure the statement is this: "You can pick your friends and you can pick you nose, but you can't wipe your friends on the couch." 🙂
    Sam, I agree with a lot of what you're saying. Henry, I understand where you're coming from as well. Still, I want to be very careful as to the friends my children keep. One encouragements I give parents all the time IS to "pick your child's friends." Why? Because children are very impressionable and these kids are MY responsibility, as such, I need to be hands-on in this process as long as I possibly can. There will be a time when I can not choose their friends any longer, but until that time I'll help guide them to and from good and bad influences. The younger the child- the more "protection". As the child gets older (school age) my role as a parent shifts from "protecting" to "teaching". Guiding my child through relationships is all about continual communication and creating an environment for openness and honest. The foundation for this is built very early on. I do use phrases such as "I'm not sure (that girl) is the best person to have as a friend… and here's why…" The younger the kids are the harder it is to explain "you need to be a good influence on them, without them being a bad influence on you." As my kids have gotten older (and I have 5) we've been able to discuss friendships more and more. AND 9 times out of 10 – they bring it up.
    Sleepovers… We've only allowed them to sleep over at relatives and VERY CLOSE family friends. We've just taught them early on that there are some things that we do differently than other families… and this is one of those things.
    Just a few of my thoughts.
    ~ Joe

  4. This is an issue where I would respectfully disagree with the extent to which I would go to help my children cultivate healthy friendships. In my experience interacting with parents and learning about and from parents as well as what I am learning along the parenting journey, I think taking an approach that goes as far as I think you are advocating can backfire. Don't get me wrong, I agree that healthy peer relationships with "good" peers is essential. I just don't agree that we should go as far as to "eliminate friends from my [kids' lives]." I also think your tips are great, except for the first one. Larry Shallenberger had a post a while back that I resonate more with http://bit.ly/ik6qch. Personally, I think we as parents try too hard out of the greatest intentions but may end up keeping our kids from having a more holistic view on mission and our role in the world when we try, in my estimation, too hard to protect and shield them.

    • Henry I might not have been clear enough. I think Larry put it much better than I. The kids your kids grow up with in the elementary years will be their friends in Jr. High and High School. Why not use the elementary years to teach them what a friend is, how to be a good friend and put them in proximity with good friends.I am by no means a helicopter parent. Letting your kids fail and helping them back up is all part of it. That being said one thing I will not do is let my elementary age kids do sleep overs, they can learn about the world other ways, every family is different no sleep overs until at least Jr. High is a non-negotiable at our house.

  5. Henry, I think it has a lot to do with the age of the kids. I'm more restrictive with my first grader than I am with my middle schooler or high schooler. When they are preschoolers you definitely get to pick their friends. Somewhere during the elementary years you choose those friends together. By upper elementary and beyond you are more of the coach.

  6. I'm pretty sure the statement is this: "You can pick your friends and you can pick you nose, but you can't wipe your friends on the couch." 🙂
    Sam, I agree with a lot of what you're saying. Henry, I understand where you're coming from as well. Still, I want to be very careful as to the friends my children keep. One encouragements I give parents all the time IS to "pick your child's friends." Why? Because children are very impressionable and these kids are MY responsibility, as such, I need to be hands-on in this process as long as I possibly can. There will be a time when I can not choose their friends any longer, but until that time I'll help guide them to and from good and bad influences. The younger the child- the more "protection". As the child gets older (school age) my role as a parent shifts from "protecting" to "teaching". Guiding my child through relationships is all about continual communication and creating an environment for openness and honest. The foundation for this is built very early on. I do use phrases such as "I'm not sure (that girl) is the best person to have as a friend… and here's why…" The younger the kids are the harder it is to explain "you need to be a good influence on them, without them being a bad influence on you." As my kids have gotten older (and I have 5) we've been able to discuss friendships more and more. AND 9 times out of 10 – they bring it up.
    Sleepovers… We've only allowed them to sleep over at relatives and VERY CLOSE family friends. We've just taught them early on that there are some things that we do differently than other families… and this is one of those things.
    Just a few of my thoughts.
    ~ Joe

  7. I agree with your approach and REALLY appreciate you sharing your candid thoughts. I have taken a very similar approach/stance with my kindergarten-age son. I am VERY careful about the friends he interacts with and have the same rule on sleepovers.

    Thank you!
    Amy Fenton Lee

    • Amy thanks for you comment. Totally agree don't know when the bill of rights started applying to kids. The right to privacy (nope) The right to set the boundaries for our family (nope). Kids need parents to be parents and not buddies. Keep the faith sister you kids will thank you…..when they are like 30.

  8. I agree with your approach and REALLY appreciate you sharing your candid thoughts. I have taken a very similar approach/stance with my kindergarten-age son. I am VERY careful about the friends he interacts with and have the same rule on sleepovers.

    Thank you!
    Amy Fenton Lee

    • Amy thanks for you comment. Totally agree don't know when the bill of rights started applying to kids. The right to privacy (nope) The right to set the boundaries for our family (nope). Kids need parents to be parents and not buddies. Keep the faith sister you kids will thank you…..when they are like 30.