I believe God gives parents discernment on many things so we can protect our kids. I think He made my radar especially sensitive to lessons I’ve learned along the way, like choosing friends. As a kid and even as an adult, I’ve made some poor judgment calls in the friendship department.
I knew this girl was trouble from the moment I laid eyes on her. Her mouth was pointed and her eyes scrunched together in a frozen frown. Her brown ponytails blew in a tailwind as she pedaled her Big Wheel down our street. I figured out her house was several houses down, past an uncontrolled intersection. She can’t be more than five. Is her mom even watching her?
We were new on the block and as she rode up and down our street she sized us up with each pass. And then she stopped. She backed up and yelled to my daughter; “Hey. Can you play?”
Oh man! Of all the houses and of all the kids on the block…she stops at ours.
It’s been ten years since that little lady rolled into our driveway, and I still wish she had kept pedaling past our house. In the ten years we have lived here, there’s been trash talk, bad manners, sneaky behavior and plenty of conflict along the way.
The Holy Spirit advised me from day one to set up extra boundaries with this friendship, and so I did. Thanks to those boundaries my daughter and this girl have remained on friendly terms, but they’re not close. And my daughter has observed but not been a part of many of the bad choices this girl has made.
Do your kids have any friends you’re not sure about? Or, are they at the age where they are ready for play dates? Here is my friend filter:
Meet the parents. Find out what kind of family your kids’ friends come from and what their rules and values are. Is their home a safe place for your child to spend time at? What kind of influence will this family have on your kid?
Make sure your kids’ friends know what your family rules are and that they are expected to follow them in your home and when they are with your child.
Stay within earshot of your kids’ play dates. This will allow you to keep track of what’s going on while giving the kids some space. And, if you don’t want your child going to their friends home, host the play dates at your house or at a nearby park.
Whether this kid rubs you the wrong way or you think they’re trouble, love on them and make them feel welcome at your home.
This article originally appeared at The M.O.M. Initiative on April 10, 2013.