Four Guys and Their Friends
by Twana Jensen
I am in the midst of raising four boys ages 6 months up to 18 years old. As you can imagine this endeavor comes with unique challenges, like keeping enough cereal and milk in the house or trying to seem somewhat interested in endless conversations about cars and other "guy stuff." My boys are incredibly different than the girls in my Stars club, my nieces, and my friends' daughters.
However, one of the issues that seems to face parents of both boys and girls alike keeps lurking around my house like the strange smells from the diaper pail. It's the challenge that my sweet baby Andy will face in the coming years and my other guys are already knee deep in: choosing and maintaining healthy friendships.
I've been talking to other Christian parents about how they help their kids in the area of friendship. Two things have stood out in our conversations. The first is that Christian parents care deeply about their kids' friendships. The second is that our ideas about Christian friendships vary immensely, from teaching a preschooler to "play nice with everyone" to limiting a teen's exposure to kids who might be a bad influence.
In navigating the river of such relationships with my boys, I believe that a balanced approach is best. The healthiest route is to surround themselves with two different types of friends, following Christ's example.
I encourage my kids to wisely choose their closest friends, since I know that those few kids will have a lot of influence over their character and behavior. These should be kids of strong faith, so that the memories my children will someday look back on will not only be silly fun but also times when they and their friends prayed together and challenged each other using God's Word. I keep my kids involved in church in order to allow them opportunities to develop such friendships. I cannot choose who they will really click with, but I can create opportunities by surrounding them with other kids who are serving Christ.
Jesus carefully selected the disciples, who were His closest friends. Our kids should follow His example.
Although I want my kids to be strongly influenced by other Christians, I acknowledge that God may have placed them in someone's life at exactly the right time so that they can be a light in a dark life. My boys have their own mission field, therefore kids who don't believe in God will also be welcome in our home.
Jesus spent a lot of time with sinners. I pray my kids can be used by God to reach the lost.
I also pray that as my children balance their friendships between memory making, ministry partnering, and mission field friends, God will bless them and protect their purity and innocence. I pray that my home will be filled with kids who are learning to pray, love, and be like Christ, even if they eat all the cereal!
Twana Jensen is a hard-working, home-schooling mom from Springfield, MO, where she and her husband Jason raise four boys ages 6 mo., 10, 13, and 18. She enjoys reading, writing, and being a Stars Club sponsor.