Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Picking Your Kids' Friends

... is something you can't necessarily do. In fact, when kids become pre-teens what's done is done and they are definitely in control of who they consider friends. Hopefully by then children are ready to be self-confident, conscientious individuals who decide to associate with like-minded kids. To be clear, I believe all children are fundamentally good. However some are unfortunately raised in situations that lead to lifestyles choices that could be hazardous to them and others (i.e. drugs, bullying, gangs).

When I was in middle school I knew kids who experimented with heroine. Yes, heroine! That is nuts but not unheard of. I've never used an illegal drug in my life. Not one single drug. Not even a puff-puff give situation regardless of my college's crazy party school reputation. See, there was one thing my family's upbringing ingrained in me well: "say no to drugs!" 

Today, I hope to recreate that and so many other healthy boundaries for my own children. I won't be there when they pick their friends or make pre-teen choices. I will hopefully come to mind when they decide between good and bad. What I can control is teaching my children to be strong, open-minded and compassionate. Which brings me to the point of "picking" my kid's friends now that he's in grade-school. Now I didn't really pick my son's relationship with a certain new friend but I highly encouraged it and here's how:

My son recently took a liking to basketball. I knew of a child he had in class that always played b-ball with his father after school. In conversations with this kiddo he turned out to be so articulate and enjoyed interacting with others. He just seemed kind & wise beyond his second-grade years. I encouraged play dates with this young child and my son. Honestly, I saw something he could develop in my child: confidence with adults, basketball skills and independence. All things he clearly possessed.

After a few play dates my son mentioned how happy he was to spend time with this friend. He confessed that not all kids took to him, that other kids often called him annoying and he liked giving him a chance to be friends. I was shocked but I understood. This boy in my opinion was just more mature than his peers. I see that maturity that might have alienated him from his classmates. What I thought he could bring out in my own child was what maybe turned other kids off to him.

After this discussion with my son, this child's mother actually mentioned that these play dates meant a lot because her son struggled to make friends his own age. Turns out these boys were meeting needs for each other and helping in developing something the other child needed. Here I feel I decided on a relationship for my child that works (at least I'd like to think so). My son is open to this child, what makes him unique and vise versa! 

 Have you ever tried picking your kids' friends?

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