We all know how influential friendships can be. It is a proven fact that those that we keep company with have the potential of having an enormous amount of influence over us. This is precisely why clichés such as “You are known by the company that you keep” and “Show me your friends and I will show you your future” have become such well known and prominent warnings.

 

At no time is this truth more evident than during the tumultuous teen years. All people everywhere have a desire to belong and to be accepted but kids between the ages of twelve and twenty are particularly vulnerable. Their desire to be well thought of and approved of by their peers can at times cause even the most grounded young people to compromise their values and behavior.

 

Knowing this, what can we as parents do to combat this and to aid our kids in staying the course in the midst of the rough patches? First and foremost, the answer is going to God in prayer and asking for His help on a daily basis. The second key which is so very crucial is communication. Don’t EVER stop talking to and with your kids. So many parents mistakenly believe that their teen has no desire to talk with them and that their young person is primarily interested only in interacting with their friends. Don’t be fooled parents…while your teenager may give you that impression outwardly, deep down, they still care very much about what mom and dad think. They inwardly know that you have much more experience and wisdom under your belt than their buddy Johnny who is stuggling with the same acne problems and identity issues as them. They instinctively understand that their pals are trying to figure it all out just like they are and even though they won’t give you a big “thank you” to your face for continuing to talk with them and for staying involved in their lives, they are craving and needing that very thing. Ask them questions, joke with them, tease them, laugh at their jokes, just genuinely be interested in everything going on in their lives every single day. Kids know when they are the priority in their parents’ lives and how important they are in the grand scheme of things. You show me a kid who knows he is on the top rung of the totem pole in his parents’ lives and I will show you a confident, secure kid. Conversely, you show me a kid whose parents are all wrapped up in their jobs, themselves, their own activites, and I will show you a kid who is not really sure of who he is, a kid who is desperate to be accepted by some sort of group, and a kid who is much more affected by peer pressure.

 

Parents, you are the key…make your child number one, your first priority…and put yourself in second place. It will be a decision that you will never regret. I know that you love your teenager, but do you like them? Do you enjoy them? Do you actively show interest in them and their lives?  These are important questions that all parents need to think about and hopefully give the correct answer to.

 

As moms and dads, we’re never going to be perfect, never going to do it all right. But do you know what? That’s okay, our kids will forgive us for making honest mistakes as long as they know that they are first place in our hearts. What place is your child in? Give it some thought today…your child’s future is at stake.