Teaching Your Kids About Friendship

Let’s be honest. Friends can cause a lot of drama for kids and teens. Your kids will probably have struggles in this area from time to time. They may wonder how many friends they should have, worry about finding the “right” best friend, struggle with peer pressure or any number of other friendship issues.

They need your guidance. You can’t control their friendships, but you can influence them. The younger your kids are when you start teaching them about friendship, the easier it will be for them to handle whatever happens.

So what are some things you should be sharing with your children? There are a lot of things that may help, but these are some of our favorites.

  • Teach them how to find godly, supportive friends. David and Jonathan are a great example of this type of friendship. They both worshipped and trusted God. They were supportive of one another under extremely difficult situations. Situations that would have made most people enemies. Talk to your kids about ways to find out if someone will be a Jonathan type friend to them. Help them understand the value of a friendship that will make them grow in positive ways.
  • Teach them to be friendly to everyone, but choose close friends carefully. Kids and teens are more likely to become like the kids with whom they spend the most time. It’s a rare young person who would have the ability to convince a child who is constantly in trouble to change his or her behavior. It’s more likely your child will soon start to get in trouble with his or her trouble bound friends. That doesn’t mean however, your child should act in unkind or unloving ways to people whom they have not chosen as close friends. Their behavior should reflect God’s love to everyone – friend or not.
  • Teach them the types of people who can cause them to move away from God’s plan for their lives. Sometimes, those negative traits are hard for young people to see. They may only notice outward appearances or common interests – missing the warning sides this friendship could change them in negative ways. Teaching them proactively – from places like the friendship wisdom in Proverbs – can keep you from having to point out the negative traits in a new friend.
  • Teach them to be encouraging, kind, supportive, loving friends. Teach them by how you treat your friends. Discuss ways they can support, encourage and love their friends. Correct unkind and hurtful words and behaviors towards others. Help them correct bad habits that can annoy others and cause them to reject your children’s attempts at friendship.
  • Help them develop multiple friend groups. Some children only need one or two close friends to be happy. Others will have lots of casual friends. Unfortunately, for many young people, they are only in one friend group. When the drama of their friend group becomes hurtful or annoying, they are left feeling they have no friends. If they have several friend groups – school, church, activities – it’s more likely they can find friendship respite in a friend group not currently involved in drama. It also lessens the effects of peer pressure from one group – their entire social currency is not invested in making that one group happy.
  • When friendship blues happen, remind them of everyone who will always love them. Yes, they will quite probably roll their eyes or tell you that those people “have to love them” (so it doesn’t count). Deep down though, there is reassurance in knowing God, their family and others will love them in spite of any “mistakes” they may make.
  • Give them hope for future friendships. Some kids are mature for their age. Or have special needs. Or are extremely talented. They may feel like there is no one in their current environment who really “gets them” enough to be a close friend. It can become discouraging – especially in the teen years. Explain to them that as they move towards college and/or a career path, they will move or specialize more. It is often in those environments they will find those friends who are more like them. Sometimes just giving them that hope for the future is all they need to move through their current friendship woes.
  • Watch for serious signs of trouble and get help when needed. Falling grades, changing eating habits, lethargy, lack of interest in things they normally love, flat affect and other signs of depression are often red flags. Don’t let things go on so long serious issues like drug and alcohol abuse, eating disorders or suicide become a reality. Start having conversations to try and find the roots of the changes in behavior and attitude. If you feel like the problems are serious, get professional help for your child.

Friendships are essential for your children’s health and growth. Preparing them to choose and be great friends can make it easier for them to form friendships that will encourage them to reach their godly potential. It’s worth your time and effort.

Do Your Kids Understand the Power of Social Media?

Do Your Kids Understand the Power of Social Media? - Parenting Like HannahYou’ve probably seen many articles about kids and social media. Maybe you are worried about even allowing your children access. Or perhaps you think it’s overblown hype that won’t touch your kids because they are different from others their age.

Your teens may want to use social media as a platform for the things that are important to them. Yet, few have adult led conversations about the positive ways they can use social media to serve others and share their faith.

If your teen is getting ready to join social media or has been on it for several years, it’s great to have a family discussion about the many ways they can use their social media platform for God’s glory. It’s also important though to help them think through the ways people often think they are making a positive difference, but may actually be making things worse or drive people away from their interest in God and Christianity.

There are a lot of things you can discuss, but these can help get the conversation started.

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Fun Communication and Leadership Activity for Kids

Fun Communication and Leadership Activity for Kids - Parenting Like HannahHave you ever had a nasty boss? Or a mean neighbor? If so, then you know what it is like to try and communicate with or be led by someone who has poor, if not ungodly, communication skills.

As Christians, we should all think of ourselves as leaders. Not in an egotistical – I get to be the boss of you – sort of way. Rather, we should be leaders to help others find God, learn what He wants them to do or help other Christians be more like Him. Often though, when Christians try to lead in these areas, their poor communication skills can do more harm than good.

So why not teach your kids healthy, godly communication skills before they can develop bad habits that hurt others? There’s a fun activity you can do to help them begin thinking about the best ways to lead with our words.

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Fun Family Taming the Tongue Challenge

Fun Family Taming the Tongue Challenge - Parenting Like HannahHave you ever heard words coming out of your mouth that didn’t sound like you? Most likely, you had been around someone who constantly used the same phrase or maybe they used curse words in every sentence. One day those words start coming out of your mouth.

That is often how ungodly speech patterns begin. Either we are constantly around someone who has them or we just get lazy about monitoring our speech.

Your kids may also pick up bad habits from ignorance –  repeating friends, not realizing what they are actually saying. Or maybe they look up to someone famous or listen to the music of someone who degrades others with their speech.

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Helping Your Kids Be Who God Created Them To Be

Helping Your Kids Be Who God Created Them To Be - Parenting Like HannahOne of the saddest things to watch is a parent trying to force one of their kids to have a career or participate in an activity for which it is obvious their child has no gift or interest. The dynamic not only makes the child miserable, but puts an unnecessary strain on their relationship. If pushed too long and too far, the strain can often cause irreparable damage, as either the child rebels in the opposite direction or submits to a lifetime of what they believe is pure misery.

God creates each person as an individual. Your children may have some characteristics from you, some from your spouse and some from some distant relative none of you have ever even met.

God also gives each of us one or more gifts He knows we will need to serve Him in the opportunities He will give us during our lifetime. One or more of your kids may have a gift that appears uniquely unlike any other given to others in your family.

God also knows each of your children will have experiences and opportunities that the rest of your family will not have. Some of these may be good and others not so much, but each will be a part of whom that child becomes.

So how can you avoid forcing your child into following your life plan instead of becoming who God created him or her to be? First let’s talk about what shouldn’t be in anyone’s life plan if they are truly trying to become who God created them to be.

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