Sunday, January 24, 2010

Friend Issues

I started to write this months ago, but didn't want to publish it when it was fresh.  I certainly don't want any of my friends wondering if I'm talking about them.  I'm not.  In fact, I'm not thinking of any one person in particular... though there was definitely an impetus for writing this.  And I can guarantee you it's no one who reads the blog.  (And it has nothing to do with some fun boys who are over here today!)

What do you all think?

How do you balance Parent One's (good) desire to be 'reaching out to the outcast' with Parent 2's (good) concern to train the kids to choose their friends wisely?

P1 has a lot more compassion than P2.  P1 encourages the boys to befriend and spend time with the kids that other kids avoid.  P1 does not buy into cozying up to "the beautiful people" and wants the boys to reach out to the... awkward, the outcasts.  P1 says things like, "It sure looks like *** could use a friend.  Let's invite him over to play."

P2 takes a different view.  P2 also does not want to show favoritism (cozying up to "the beautiful people").  P2 also encourages the boys to be kind to newcomers and outsiders, but wants the boys to be discerning in their friendships.  Frankly, sometimes there are good reasons that certain people don't have many friends, and "lie down with dogs, get up with fleas" comes to mind.

So that probably blew my cover.  I was trying to be fair and unbiased in presenting our different viewpoints.

What do you think?

I've been skimming through Proverbs and need to spend more time there, working this out.  What first comes to mind are verses like these.  (I'm writing out the references because if you hover over them, the verse should appear in a little box.)

Proverbs 12:26
Proverbs 13:20
Proverbs 16:29
Proverbs 18:24
Proverbs 22:24-25
Proverbs 28:7

I know there are many more that illuminate different facets of friendship.  How do you all live this out? 

UPDATE:  I have some great and wise friends and commentors!  Feel free to add to the discussion.  I'm going to be busy this week and have some other posts scheduled, but I hope to be coming back to this later.


Tina Marie said...

This is definitely a tough one. Due to the history of our boys, who have spent the last 2.5 years in foster care, they have developed MANY friends who negatively influence them. Now, try and reconcile this with our desire to be the go-to house where kids always feel welcome. Let's face it, as a mom, the last thing I want is for my boys to bring home a thug who acts like a thug in my house. But here's the's MY house. My husband and I make the rules and our boys are expected to follow them...and we require their friends follow them as well.
We didn't start telling our boys to choose better friends until they couldn't get through a day without a fight. Then we dropped the hammer. If you cannot be respectful around these people, then you need to find new friends. And you know what? They are starting to. It took a while, but different names are starting to show up in conversations. We still hear the old names, but mostly about how they are still getting in trouble at school. Sometimes, they still make bad choices, but they know the consequences.

I could write a book on this, but I say open your home to them, but demand they respect the rules of your house. Chances are, you just might become the role model they need. If you wanna talk more, you know where to find me.

Deborah said...

I've been going through the Proverbs this month and the friend verses cause me to pause. How do we guide our children to the right friends and yet help them to reach out? Tough stuff. I don't even get it right yet. The only thing I can think of is spending more time in prayer and searching the scriptures for guidance and wisdom from the Lord, for ourselves and our children. We can plan our course, but the Lord still determines our steps. (Prov 16:9)


Anonymous said...

I certainly don't claim to have any real answers, but I think some of it has to do with the "levels" of friends. There are friends and then there are FRIENDS. FRIENDS are those who share similar values and are able to be friends in the true Biblical sense. Friends - well, they are friends, but you limit how much time you spend with them and never quite let your guard down. I think even kids have "levels" of friends...just a thought. ~tricia


Wow! Really good thoughts!'re right - this is a tough one. I think you hit the nail on the head when you said, "Frankly, sometimes there are good reasons that certain people don't have many friends..." The important thing to remember is that it is not an "either/or" issue - it is "both." We are commanded to reach out, to love the lost and hurting, to be a friend to the friendless. We are also commanded to choose our friends wisely. Great Scripture verses, by the way. I also like Proverbs 4:14, 15 and, you already had Proverbs 22:24, but 25 tells us WHY to stay away from such people - so we don't become like them. I would say that we should reach out to all and share God's love with them, but that doesn't mean they become our best friend that we spend every waking moment with. And of course, we never base our friendships on the "lovelies" but need to be sure we base them off of sound character qualities, realizing at the same time that no one is perfect. The idea is: are your friends striving to follow Christ (like you are) and if they are not, they should be someone you share the Gospel with, but not someone you are buddy-buddy with. Something I often tell my children is: there is power in numbers. "A 3fold cord is not easily broken." Especially as children, it is much better for them to witness to someone when they have another Christian with them. Even Christ did not send out His disciples (who were grown men and well taught by the Lord Himself) alone. They went two by two.

I don't know if this was at all helpful, or just more confusing. I hope it's the first...

Ruby said...

*scratches head* It's a curly one. (This can even be a problem with grown ups.Hospitality comes with risks)
We try to balance with a lot of adult supervision if children are here whose behaviour is not what we expect. I have had to send neighbourhood kids home due to language, bullying etc but have found they do quickly learn what is expected here if they want to play with our boys. We actually live in a fairly rough place but amazingly have 3 other christian home schooling families within a block. One family is much toughter than us and does not allow any of the "riff raff" over to play. Frankly, it has not been such a good witness among the neighblours.
God gives our children as our first responsibility. I usually weigh up how I am going to anxwer to Him :-)

Cutzi said...

Wow. This is a hard topic, to be sure. In short - this is what I/we think (Justin and I). These verses all talk about "men." Grown ups. They say nothing about young children. Growing children. Maturing children. Children who are learning to discern right from wrong, wise from foolish. Our choice so far has been to surround our children with others whose parents are like-minded. NOT children who aren't sinful, NOT children who don't make bad choices sometimes - but children whose parents, when these things happen, will train them in righteousness.

Our children will, hopefully, learn from their parents' example of reaching out to the "outsiders" and loving the weak. As with many things, children don't need to experience things to learn about them. In our opinion, they first need to be grounded in their own values before they are truly able reach out to others without being drawn in to sinfulness themselves. They are too easily influenced. Obviously, there is WAY more to this conversation but this is my short version.

(On a side note - this is also one major impetus for us to home-school)

Craig and Heather said...

I think there is a difference between counting someone as your friend and being a friend to them.

James 2:1-5 comes to mind. What is the purpose of friendship? Is it what I get from you, or to show you Christ?

There is no such thing as a friend who is not in need of seeing Christ.

Dodged your question, I know . .


Rachael Starke said...

This is such a good, tough question! One aspect I'm paying attention to is how my children respond to unbelieving family's kids' behavior in our house. I've got one that instantly breaks into sermons (complete with bossy tone of voice, chapters and verses, the whole bit. As ashamed as I am of her demeanor, I've gotta confess that my heart thrills to hear how much Scripture my little Pharisee knows). The other...totally goes along with the bad behavior. So one I've had to talk to about showing people what Jesus is like without being a Pharisee, and the other I've had to warn, that if she loves approval more than she loves Jesus, that's a problem. And at some point, we might have to limit how much time they spend together. Not because this girl is causing her to sin, but because my daughter's own sinful heart is drawing her into it.

What's been interesting is the mom of the one difficult girl and I have a great relationship - she's my across the street neighbor. She loves our girls because of their "good influence" on her daughter, and because, yes, her daughter does not have a lot of friends because she's not nice. Mom follows the Dr. Spock method (kids want to be good and just need to be talked to a lot), and has been pretty offended when I've mentioned that we operate off pretty much the opposite model! But, that's given me freedom, when something has gone wrong on a play date, to even say - "Please don't worry that I'm going to forbid our girls to play together. Sin isn't a disease we catch. It's a genetic condition. Mine have it too. Oh, and me. :)" That's actually been a relief to her, because other moms have said she's a "bad influence".

But I'm new to this stage. The point I may have to rethink is if one of my girls really starts to embrace this other girl's attitude, likes of unwholesome things, etc.

Q said...

As far as 'friends' go, I encourage my children to make wise choices in friends. When they are tried and true in their faith and can stand firm without being swayed, then they can minister and reach out to people who are riskier.

As far as 'acquaintances' go, those are engaged under my watchful eye and guiding hand at church.

leah said...

It is a tricky situation. You want your children to be kind to all, to minister to all, but not necessarily to become fast friends with every person they run across. Some people are bad influences (2 Timothy 3:1-5 ). Kids (and adults at times) don't always have the strength and judgment to keep true to their ideals when consorting with those who believe the exact opposite of what we believe.

I guess I would encourage my kids to be kind to those who are on the wrong path, but not to join them on that path.The dangers are too great.

Then again, I'm a big old mama bear and am not always that rational. If I sense danger, I want to keep my kids away from it, lol!

Colleen said...

Okay, I'm going to take you at your word when you say this post had nothing to do with the visiting friends. Having said though, I'm not really following you here. I guess that means whatever you're talking about has never been an issue for us? Or I've been too dim to realize it's an issue? I dunno. I feel so out of the loop...

Anonymous said...

I cannot remember how or when I came across your blog but I really enjoyed reading your blogs and so saved it.
I have remained quiet because I never felt compelled to add anything to what you and those who have commented had to say.
But tonight I am adding my thoughts because I believe this is a very serious issue to discuss....and because I have traveled the path already and believe I have some 'wisdom' gained...more in error ...but God IS gracious and steadfast and His love endures forever. AMEN
That said ...oh and I have not read any other comments on this if I am redundant please forgive me...this is a serious issue for me.
I was a P1 ...and had many P2's in my life and I challenged them to 'trust' God and reach out to the 'unwanted'.
I am now a p2 and will encourage my children to be also. Why? Because we must consider all those proverbs that you quoted...THAT is wisdom. And because I, foolishly, invited wickedness into my childrens lives and they suffered dearly because of it. I will not go into the details...again...God IS faithful...gracious and always loving...but I was foolish.
We can teach our children to not be hateful respect others always...but we must be wise and teach them to be wise in choosing friends. It is what scripture tells us to do...Proverbs never tells us to be 'friends' with the wicked. So be wise.... if you notice a child who 'seems' to need a wise and get to know them before you encourage your children to befriend them... that is what we are to do for our children.
If loving a person made them 'good' we would have a lot more 'good' people in this world. Be wise...Proverbs tells it like it is... take heed and you will not steer your children in the wrong way.
May God bless you all as you consider this.
I am thankful He has made 'good' the things that others meant as destruction .... especially because of my lack of wisdom in guiding my children. But we mustn't jump out and do foolish things because we know He is faithful. . .unless you want to watch your children suffer.
God bless you all with much wisdom.

Craig and Heather said...

I have been thinking about this post for several days now.

I think it is very important for our children to understand the difference between being someone's friend, and them being your friend.

Let me explain.

I supervise 20 people. I had the opportunity to do a special weekend project with some of the people I work with a while back. This job was such that I was sort of "in the other room, but within earshot" the whole time. These people were my "star players." You know, the ones who do a really good job, volunteer for overtime, and such.

About a half hour into the job, they sort of forgot that I could hear them, and I found out who they really are. I realized that they are not my friends. They would turn on me in a heartbeat, and without reason.

This left me with a choice. Do I still be Christ like to them, or do I protect myself? The answer is both. Don't relate on their level. Don't count them as dear trusted friends. But don't forget that Jesus died for them. If he died for them, no sacrifice is too great on my part. Not to wallow in the mire with them, not to sacrifice what is God's to them, but to serve them as Christ served me.

How I train my children will flow from who I am. The answer I believe is to make sure I am looking at things right, and with Christ in view.

Make sense?


Herding Grasshoppers said...

Craig -

I've been thinking about it every day. I was hoping to post a follow-up today but daily life intervened. Still chewing on it.