Can You Choose Your Child’s Friends? Or Should You Even?

It’s is not the first time I’ve mulled over being involved in the decisions our children make, especially with the people they choose to become friends with. Our children are growing up fast, and once again I’m back jumping through these little humps thinking if, as parents, we should have a “friends checklist” to discuss with our kids.

I have actually asked the question I myself dread: how do I teach my child to choose friends without going overboard?

We all had good and bad friends when we were young, and when I look back to that journey of diverse friendships I am thankful for the experience of meeting all kinds of people. I am grateful for the opportunity of learning how friendships unfold.

If there’s one thing I consider to be true, it’s the fact that our friends and the foundation of our relationship with these people have a lot to do with how we treat people and how we let people treat us later on in life.

Frances Beldia

Has anyone influenced you in choosing your children’s friends — if you have ever gotten to this point at all?

Can You Choose Your Child’s Friends?

When I was  in fourth grade, I briefly became friends with a girl named Lena. How we met escapes me now, but she must have been the daughter of one of the housekeepers at my uncle’s hostel. My uncle and his family weren’t running the hostel anymore and was only using a small portion of it as their home. The four-storey structure was a haven for the Nancy Drew wannabe in me. All the empty rooms and dark hallways gave life to the stories I always carried with me inside my head. 

Lena and I would meet every Friday at the top floor of the hostel and sit at the landing that had quite a view of the tiny city. I was doing an “adventure” in the hostel one time when I saw Lena there. She didn’t say anything when she handed me what looked like a cone made out of newsprint. The cone, I found out soon, was filled with polvoron (powdered candy). She went to a public school and the students were each given polvoron before the end of the week. It was part of some sort of a government feeding program.

After she explained how it was supposed to be eaten {raise your head, pour the contents into your mouth and try not to choke}, she looked away and gazed at the view in front of us. There was something about Lena. She was a quiet person and she never talked about her family. She also didn’t talk about friends. Lena was what one would consider a lonely person. She only talked about school of all things, and, surprisingly, it was one of the rare times when the topic of school didn’t trigger a pre-crisis crisis within me. 

I went to a private school and Lena often expressed curiosity about what people there were like. She was particularly curious about nuns since she had never met one, while I was surrounded by a many of them every single day at school. 

My friendship with Lena only lasted for a few weeks. When my mother found out that I was friends with this girl who went to public school and whose parents “may be one of the caretakers”, she became wary and strongly disapproved of the friendship.

I wasn’t too happy with that decision, but following her was the only way to assure peace at home that time. She was my mother after all, and she just wanted what she thought was good for me.  In hindsight, maybe she should have explained more about the importance of choosing good friends.

We all just want what’s best for our kids, that’s why we focus on teaching the importance of choosing good friends–and honestly — sometimes to a fault.

Importance of Choosing Good Friends

I was raised in a small town where people had quite a standard for everything: only expensive schools produced worthy graduates; poor people were most likely dishonest; kids who are not the kids of your parents’ friends were not the right kind of people for you, etc, etc. 

It was something that I wasn’t very happy about growing up, and yet, like a deadly disease, I unconsciously carried some of those invisible, dreaded yardsticks. I finally knocked my own head off later on. This was when I had my first kid and wanted to be the kind of parent who did not judge people, like or dislike them on the basis of what kind of house they had, or what their parents’ jobs were.

I became aware that kids copy what their parents do, and you can’t teach kids anything that you’re not capable of doing {or becoming} yourself. That includes kindness, respectfulness and obedience. 

Frances Beldia

All throughout my life, I’ve met people — all kinds of people with so may different stories to tell. It’s beautiful and it happened because I escaped from the norms of a culture that was so limiting. I learned that people could be good no matter to which financial status they belonged

The Friends Checklist. How Do I Teach My Child to Choose Friends?

Should there be one? Yes and no.

There are a few things we might want to discuss with our kids when it comes to friends. If you want to know what our checklist looks like, it’s this simple.

  • Respect is needed at all times; no sweating over pointless things like politics, religion and noontime shows. 
  • Mood swings are not welcome at our home. We like positive energy, and mood swings may be an indication of deeper troubles at home, especially for kids. Sort them out first. That’s one of the importance of choosing good friends.
  • Bad words are uncool, so leave them outside our door.
  • Good Manners and Right Conduct (remember GMRC?) are still on top of our list no matter how much the rest of the world has forgotten about them.
  • Just be a friend and be sincere. There exists no competition around here. Our home is not a place for blind auditions.

Children are their own persons and have their own personalities. Truth is, we can’t choose their friends for them while standing on our chariots and pointing at who could be their friends and who should be removed from the lot. I certainly don’t own a chariot. I usually walk holding hands with my little one.

The most that we could do is to provide them with a home brimming with love and treat them the way we want other people to treat them. This is how they know how they are valued and will, in return, value other people.

Children also learn from example, so if they grow up in an environment where there is love, respect, openness and acceptance, it will be such an effort for them to stray and end up with the wrong people. 

Let’s share stories. If you have anything to share about the importance of choosing good friends, do e-mail me at cure4mondays@gmail.com. 

If there’s one thing I consider to be true, it’s the fact that our friends and the foundation of our relationship with these people have a lot to do with how we treat people and how we let people treat us later on in life.

Cure for Mondays, Asia’s Top Women’s Blog, Philippine Homeschool Blog, Best Mommy Tips, Family Issues Website, Importance of Choosing Friends, Can You Choose Your Child’s Friends?, How Do i Teach My Child to Choose Friends?

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