NAVIGATING YOUR KIDS’ FRIENDSHIPS

We are all created in God’s image. Although we all hold the truths of God’s image, His beautiful design for us has provided us with diversity of looks, socio-economic status and, most fortunately, diversity of thought. It makes life more interesting. It makes life more beautiful and allows us to fully embrace our own individuality created by God.  But what happens when our kids inevitably end up forming friendships with other kids whose families live differently than us?  When these friendships form at the park or at recess or in the classroom, the last thing the kids are thinking about is if the other’s family acts or lives the same as they do.  All they know is that they enjoy the other child’s company. Navigating this space as a parent can be tricky. We all want to raise our kids well; to be upright Children of God, instilling the morals of the Gospel within them. This is hard enough in a culture where our media often sneakily adds messaging contrary to the Gospel.

My first goal in raising my children is to give them a healthy sense of gratitude.  They are so incredibly lucky.  They live in a free country that isn’t in the midst of war. They have both parents alive and loving raising them in the same household.  They have secure housing, secure transportation, secure food sources and a great Catholic school they attend.  I remind them often how lucky they are and every night they pray in thanksgiving for something specific that they know they are lucky to have. 

My second goal in raising my children is to be sure they treasure the great individuality inherent in each person God has created on this planet. Honestly, this is the real stickler for me. It’s hard.  It’s hard when you’ve spent years explaining to your children that marriage is sacred, but their friend at school just told them their parents are divorced. It’s hard when a friend refers to their financial situation as “poor” because their mom and dad are tightening the budget, but you’ve taught your kids to associate “poor” with being truly unable to make ends meet. It’s enough to make you want to keep your kids away from all others and tell them only what you want them to hear.  But that’s not what God wants for us.  We are called to community. We are called to love one another.

When I’ve run into situations where we have different attitudes or expectations than family or friends, and it’s not a situation of grave sin that requires immediate addressing,  I usually talk to my kids later in the day and say something along the lines of “I want to talk a little bit about today when_____.” And then explain why we do something or what has a different meaning to me.  I make a point not to blame the other person (“Well that kid just doesn’t even KNOW what poor means”) and I make sure to focus more on why we approach it the way we do in our family.  I will often point to a teaching in the Bible, or simply ask my kids what they think is right or why they think we do it the way we do. I wrap it up by pointing out to them how great it is that we all live different experiences, but that there’s one truth we can always seek. I mean, how boring would it be to all do and think exactly the same way?  There would be no innovation, no music, no true love if everyone is the same. God created us with our own individual wills and our own personalities so we can find something to love in everyone.

MORE BY THIS AUTHOR

FAMILY LIFE

At the National Eucharistic Congress, Decided Excellence Catholic Media - with the help of Bishop William Waltersheid - will be presenting "Beautiful Revelation: The Eucharistic Timeline". Throughout human history, God has left repeated proof of His presence in the Eucharist and that the Eucharist is the source and summit of our Salvation. God has given us the wisdom. Have you taken the time to understand? Read this spiritual journey through time to examine critical moments that God uses to reveal the truth of the Body of Christ.

This will close in 32 seconds