As a parent, I probably want to first start off with understanding why my child is drawn to this friend or to this group of friends. So our temptation is to jump right into forbidding relationships. Or maybe the opposite is just to say, well, what can I do about it? But I think wisdom means I’m gonna stop and try to understand what appeals to my child about these friends. Maybe it’s something that they admire or respect in these kids that they’re pursuing. Perhaps it’s like-minded activities or interests, and those things make sense to us. We’re drawn to relationships that way as well. So I want to affirm those things in my child while also helping them to see the negative, too, to be aware of maybe the stumbling blocks or how it could lead them down the wrong path.
So before trying to forbid a relationship, I wanna try to win my child over into thinking about and evaluating their own relationships and maybe even watching them make better choices. Now, the struggle is a lot of times our kids don’t do that, right? And so the question is, when do I need to step in? And I wanna be quick to encourage my kids to make good choices, to encourage them to discern right from wrong. And then when they’re not, then I’m gonna look for ways to move them away from the relationship. And that might be behind the scenes, keeping my teen busy, not having them available when they are asked to go places with a negative friendship or with a negative influence. But then I also want to find positive ways of putting influences, positive influences, in their life. Things like mentors or other friendships or relationships.
I want my child to be proactively busy in good ways, and that could be getting them more involved in youth group. It could be inviting people over and having people over for cookouts or dinners. So I’m limiting the negative influences, but I want to invite in positive influences for my kids. The last thing I’d say is you and I cannot underestimate the need for our involvement in our teenagers’ lives. And unfortunately, I think parents think that teenagers don’t want us or need us. And so if they don’t want me around, then I’ll back off, where I think more than ever, that’s when we need to pursue them, where we need to lovingly look for ways of spending time with them, even if they reject us or rebuff us. Our teens need us in their lives, and we need to love them enough to enter into their world and seek to know them and understand them. And the more we do that, the more we win their affections and trust.