(To see the earlier posts, click the label - Beta Thoughts - at the bottom of the post.)
I have to say I really liked Leah's comment about The Friendship Dial. Parents get to "tune" the friendship dial, guiding their kids in how close to let certain friendships get, and how much monitoring they require.
So, hears another dial I like to tune...
3. How much time they spend with friends.
Honestly, I favor a lot less time with peers than what is considered normal in our society. Now the boys do have a lot of friends that I'm glad to have around. :D But in general, spending a lot of time with other kids isn't going to help them grown in godly wisdom and maturity, now is it? Because they're all immature - meaning, they're not yet mature - mine included. I've been thinking more about this now that I have a 13 year-old. And I didn't say "a teenager" on purpose.
I read not long ago that the word "teenager" didn't exist as a noun until relatively recently. "Teenage" was an adjective, describing a person in their teens. That all changed when adolescence became a culture of its own. But that's a discussion for another day. And whether you're thinking along the same lines or not, it's fairly universally accepted that in our culture most teens are more influenced by their peers than by their family.
That is not my goal. Now, we're new to this territory (adolescence), so I'm no expert, but that sure seems like a recipe for some undesirable fruit, yah? At that age, especially.
Good grief! Why on earth, when our kids are hitting adolescence, and their hormones are carbonated and their brains are muddled, would we want to passively release them to a bunch of like-minded peers? And that's the good kids! The rebellious ones get downright nasty. Isaiah 32:6.
So, contrary to what is "normal", I actually favor more supervision in these years, as opposed to unsupervised (or minimally supervised) time with friends. The more time they spend with mature, godly adults (mentors) the better.
So, wrapping this all up...
First, I realize that a lot of my thoughts have sounded negative. In reality, we are blessed to have many friends and relatives that we enjoy spending time with and are happy for our kids to be around. And they're not all Christians, either.
But, secondly, I do tend to analyze these things. I have high expectations for my boys, along the lines of 1 Timothy 4:12. Don't let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith and in purity.
Um... we're not there yet. Really, really not there yet.
We're still over at Proverbs 22:15, Foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child...
And it wasn't put there by someone else's kid. Again, I think of Rachael's words, "Sin isn't a disease we catch. It's a genetic condition." Our own sinful hearts lead us astray faster than anyone else can.
Third, since my kids anyway are not consistently wise and mature enough to have this figured out for themselves, I'm going to keep a close eye on things.
When I was growing up our house was the go-to place. Didn't hurt that we lived on the lake, but more than that, it was just my parents' way. And whaddaya know, they knew all our friends. They knew (for the most part, anyway) what was going on. And I get it. If they're all here, I can see and hear and evaluate what's going on, and how my boys are handling it. That's the key, right there. Watching the boys' hearts.
Not to mention, fourth, at my house, I get to make the rules.
I'm not nearly as good and easy-going about hospitality as my mom was and is, but I'm trying. Partly because it's one of those "one another's", so it's not really an option, anyway. But that's not the only reason. (We do enjoy having company, btw, it's not just an obligation.)
Yes, there are going to be people that we will be kind to... from a distance. I'd much prefer to stay in the safe zone of like-minded parents. But we're trying to find the right balance of compassion and discernment. Trying to work out how to be gracious and loving and wise.
And really, really glad to hear how you all do it.