TRAIN YOUR CHILDREN GOD’S WAY
for a time, reminding him or her that it is critical that one be able to get along with others in every circumstance, and that sharing can also mean going without (through giving) if someone else is in need.
Another part of this principle is teaching your children to be considerate of other people. Christianity is practicing the “give” way of life instead of the “get” way. Actively teach your children to con- sider the needs and feelings of others. This practice starts with broth- ers and sisters, but extends to all the other people they will come in contact with. Be sure your children have heard this principle repeated so often that it becomes virtually second nature to them.
Explain How to Choose Friends
The previous point introduces an important and related topic, that of how your children choose friends and associates. Again, since “evil companions corrupt good conduct”—and some translations substi- tute “conduct” or “behavior” for “manners” in Paul’s explanation— the wrong choice of friends, or even casual acquaintances, can ulti- mately destroy your children’s character. This can potentially ruin their reputation, and possibly lead them into actions that could send their life down the drain.
Notice the overall principle contained in this Proverb: “Make no friendship with an angry man; and with a furious man you shall not go: lest you learn his ways, and get a snare to your soul” (22:24-25).
Consider all that this exhortation from Solomon—but actually directly from the mind of God—means to your children. It has been said, “Put a good boy with a bad boy and you will wind up with two bad boys every time!” This may be more true in this generation than in any previous age, simply because the young people surrounding your children today exert every conceivable kind of wrong influence on them.
Now consider the following point in light of all that you have read thus far: It has probably become painfully apparent to you that there are far fewer children and teenagers today who would be able to be appropriate friends to a young person who is striving to obey and represent God—and, of course, this should be your child! But you must teach your children to accept this reality, which this world forces upon them.
Have no doubt that your children’s friends will influence them, and will potentially change them. Although there can be wonderful
exceptions to this rule, today it is usually not for the better. You must be actively involved—and very diligent in monitoring—your chil- dren’s selection of companions. And recognize that who your chil- dren want to be around may be a statement about what is already occurring under the surface of their character of which you may not be aware. By the time you discover what is happening, your children could be further down the road of wrong conduct and wrong com- panions than you think, and much more difficult, or even impossible, to guide back to right thinking. I have seen many situations in which a parent’s battle to protect his or her child had been lost before the parent even knew that a shot had been fired.
Finally, recognize that your child could also suddenly become attracted to a friend of the opposite sex and could quickly fast-for- ward to a decision to want to marry this person (at a later date)—and you were unaware that anything was happening. When the dangers of fornication and religious differences are factored in, this is a reci- pe for disaster. If this occurs, absolutely require your child to end the relationship immediately!
Teach your children to look for friends who exhibit as many as possible of the kinds of things that you are teaching them. Of course, they must understand that no human being is perfect, and that little flaws must be overlooked and forgiven. Be sure, however, that you personally meet their friends, and that these friends spend a certain amount of time in your home.
Constantly be aware of who your children are spending time with. Too much is at stake to do less. This means actively teaching them how to select friends, including what can be at stake if they make the wrong decision(s).
In conclusion, the best guidance you can give your children in selecting friends is to teach them to look for people demonstrating the kinds of qualities described in this book’s earlier chapters.
Explain How to Deal With Difficult People
Life sometimes involves interacting with difficult people. Inevitably, everyone will have to deal with such individuals. This can be compli- cated when those individuals are in positions of authority. Your chil- dren must be equipped to handle these situations.
For instance, explain to your children how to deal with people who lose their temper. Make them aware of passages such as the fol-