Sitting still on the swings at a nearby park, Helen raised her right hand, crossing it over her heart. “I promise to be your soul sister for the rest of my life.”
“You’ll never stop being my friend?” The eyes of Helen’s best friend, Meg, were large and nervous.
“Never. Even if someone tries to pull us apart!” Helen vowed.
“Don’t tell anyone that we made this vow,” Meg warned. “Otherwise, you’ll bring bad luck on our friendship.”
Helen crossed her index finger over her chest. “Hope to die!”
In light of recent events, and a couple years of soul-searching, I am thanking God, on my knees, for His protection in my life. I went through a period of time where I had some dangerous friends. There have been some in-your-face slaps to the jaw lately that have shown me just how much I was protected.
As I sit and think about what I regret, my words come back to haunt me most of all. I’ve compiled a list of things I never, ever want my girls to say to their friends (and some of these are from bad experiences of my own!)
1. “Don’t tell your parents,” or “I won’t tell my parents.”
Kids of any age, toddlers up to teens, should be able to tell their parents any and all things they hear, see, read about, or experience. Nothing is off-limits inside of the child-parent relationship. If my child wants to tell me what Rhoda had for lunch every single day, I want to hear it. I respected the fact that, as I got to be a young adult, my parents never required me to tell them everything going on with my friends, but they kept an open-ear policy to listening to everything I felt like sharing. And they always had the right to ask. This applies, later in life, to one’s spouse as well.
2. “I promise to be your friend forever,” or “I’ll never stop being your friend.”
Never more than now am I aware that all human beings are sinners: homeschooled or not, Christian home or not, mega-church leader or part-time janitor. “All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God,” (Romans 3:23) and “Beware, lest you fall!” (1 Corinthians 10:12) Friends are not spouses. We have not made legal covenants with them. As kids grow up, junk often comes out in life choices and sinful decisions. There have been times that I stuck in a friendship longer than I should have when it was doing me harm. In order to save your children from feeling like guilty promise-breakers later, teach them to not make vows to people who they aren’t married to. We should always show love and know when to bring mercy to the table, but we should also teach our kids when it’s wise to back out of a detrimental friendship. As kids grow up, they change. And you never know which friends may end up being people you want nothing more than to protect your children from.
3. “Sorry, but you’ll never be as best of a friend as Shannon,” or “If you try harder, you can make my #1 spot of best friends.”
I’m not being unreasonable here and saying that kids can’t have best friends. I’ve always felt that people who say they don’t have best friends, and that all their friends are equal, are lying to themselves in an effort to not hurt someone’s feelings. We all have friends we get along with and simply like better. Friends aren’t family members, and they never will be. It’s not wise to pretend that they are. Friends are people you can choose. While children need to be taught to include others and to love everyone, there is nothing wrong with having a bestie or two. This is the point of bridesmaids. But flaunting it and making it a competition is arrogant and unloving. Children need to learn how to leave room in their hearts for the other kids God brings in their lives and not to exclude someone because they might be harder to get to know.
4. You’re my best friend, so I can tell you everything.
I can still be guilty of this one to this day. It’s fantastic to have a soul-sister whom I can share my deepest heart with, but airing someone else’s dirty laundry, in a selfish desire to have someone to talk to, is plain and simple gossip. That’s what God, your spouse, or your parents are for. It’s selfish to expect someone to always listen to everything you have to say as well, and often this attitude breeds a neediness for people instead of a prayerfulness to our Heavenly Father.
5. I’d rather have this friend in my wedding as a bridesmaid, instead of my sister.
Statistics show that 1 out of 5 women regret their choice of bridesmaids or simply don’t have a relationship with that bridesmaid later in life. If they only have a limited budget or space, I’m advising my girls to choose their sister. Their sister is their oldest friend, and if they’re not the closest at this moment in their life, chances are really good that they soon will be. I’ll say it again. Friends are NOT family. She might feel like that now, but she’s simply not your sister and never has been. I have friends who feel truly like siblings at specific times in my life, but my little sister was still my maid of honor, and I don’t regret it for the world. No one went through the same life I did like my sister, and no one gets me quite as well. Always choose family over friends if you have to make a choice.
6. You should marry my brother so we can become sisters.
NO. First of all, you can truly lead a girl’s heart down the wrong path insisting on such thoughts. And secondly, I sure hope neither of my daughters marries a guy for his sister. Yes, you “marry the family” of the guy in a way, but only to some extent. You don’t have to live with them or look at their faces every day. Girls, don’t coach your current bestie into an infatuation with your brother because you selfishly think you’d like them to be related to you. Let them fall in love with the guy God has for them. It’s so not about you.
7. “Your parents haven’t told you about that yet? I’ll educate you!”
Not your daughter’s jurisdiction. Chances are, I didn’t tell them for a very good reason. I know my daughter better than her friend does, and I have a specific way I want to tell her. Even if the two of them think I’m being an unreasonable or stodgy parent, they can take it up with me instead of deciding to go around me. Statistics show, for instance, that teens who talk to their parents about sexual topics are three times less likely to get pregnant in their teenage years.
8. “My family is better,” or “My family does that better.”
The last thing we want our girls to do is to drive a wedge between their friend and their friend’s family. The relationship should not be about comparisons or about separating girls from their family members. It should be about promoting unity, gratefulness, and love. My favorite friends were the ones who rambled on and on with me about how wonderful my mom was, who laughed at all of my dad’s jokes, and who told me my house was fun and my relationship with my siblings was amazing. My favorites were the ones who included all six of us Thomases.
9. And lastly, a girl should never say anything that keeps her friends from putting Christ first in their life.
Let’s raise our daughters to be safe, godly, selfless, humble, Christlike friends!
Remember, we still need fifteen more subscribers to announce a winner for Chad’s journal!
To read the contest rules and enter yourself, click here.