If you are the parent of a teenager, you know how much friends matter in the life of your child. While it is certainly true at an earlier age, the importance takes on even greater implications when your child is no longer under your direct supervision for social and extracurricular events, not to mention car rides. I can’t count the hours I have spent praying for my children’s friends, but what about MY friends?
So many of us grown ups have friends, but barely make time on a consistent basis to invest in the relationships. Understandably, we often must prioritize our children and our family’s needs not leaving much time for ourselves. But I am here to tell you that your friends matter more than you may realize. Yes, I need friends to encourage me as I navigate parenting through the toddler, elementary, and teen years. Yes, I need a place to vent and laugh. And yes, I will need friends when we have an empty nest. What I did not realize is how much I need my friends to not just love me, but also to love my kids.
When Mark was 13 and Annika was 12, we held a Christian style Bar Mitzvah for each of them. At Mark’s dinner, our family invited three of Chris’s friends to come and speak into Mark’s life. Our family, grandfathers, and these three men each spoke to Mark and challenged him as he entered manhood. We did the same for Annika. Each night was special in the life of our family, but honestly, we did not even begin to realize the value of those two nights until much later.
Our goal was to find adults that we loved and respected to put before our children as another source of wisdom and encouragement when they needed it on their journey. Yes, we self-selected who we felt would echo our values. Just picking your friends from Bunco may not be the wisest idea. You want someone that will speak hard truths in a wise way. We also were careful to select people that our children already had a positive impression of…someone with the personality that they enjoyed and could envision spending time with one day.
We asked these friends to be intentional to engage with our children. Not a program, but to stay connected to them. In just the three short years, we have already seen where our friends have loved us the most by being a voice of love and truth to our teens. When the words of mom and dad become just a monotonous hum, it might be time to call on a friend to share from their perspective. Don’t be too busy for developing godly friends. You will wish you had them one day. I never could have guessed how much comfort they would provide me by being a safe place to seek wise counsel to my own flesh and blood.