This should be one of the most pressing concerns a parent should have for his children. The Lord is very clear in His Word that the wrong kinds of friends will have an adverse affect on us. This is true whether it is young people or adults. The bottom line is this: I have a responsibility to be the right kind of influence…but I must also realize that the friends I choose will have a profound influence on me. Parents especially must guard the friendships our children establish. It is our God-given responsibility to help our children choose the right friends, especially during the formative years when their ability to understand this Scriptural principle is not yet established. Here are several principles for us to remember about parents, peers, and pressure and how we can help our children in their world of friendships.

Peer Principle #1

We as parents must not be naive in thinking that every family in our child’s peer group shares the same values. Whether it is children from the neighborhood, school, or church, do not be fooled into thinking that every parent thinks just like us. Not everybody in our own family will have the same values as us. Isolating our family from the world is not the answer; however, knowing this principle to be true will help us stay on our toes as you seek to guard our children from hurtful influences.

Peer Principle #2

We must help our children choose the right kinds of friends. Nothing will influence your children more than their friends. Teaching them the qualities they should possess in their own lives in order to be the right kind of influence and characteristics to watch for in a good friend will help them as they begin to form relationships. No parent wants to pull the plug on a budding friendship, but it may be necessary if you perceive one child or the other negatively influencing the other.

Peer Principle #3

The quality of our relationship with our child is the determining factor in how significant peer influence will be. As our children grow older, our influence will diminish. Sometimes parents alienate their children. Parents can literally drive their children toward other influences because they have established no relationships with their children. Do you want to continue to have an influence on your children? If so, you must have a relationship. The closer you are, the more influence you will have.

Peer Principle #4

Never underestimate the power—the impact of peer relationships. In fact, it works both ways. I Corinthians 15:33 states that friends can influence each other in negative ways, but the right kinds of friends will have a positive effect as well. Proverbs 27:17 states, “Iron sharpeneth iron; so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend.” Your friends and your children’s friends will carry a great amount of influence. Do not disregard the impact they can and will have on you and your children, either positively or negatively.

Peer Principle #5

Never relinquish your right to influence—and even control your child’s relationships. It is not only your right, it is your God-given responsibility as your child’s parent. Saying no to potentially harmful relationships is never easy, but it may be right to do. Do not apologize for making the hard decisions even when it comes to your child’s friendships.

Peer Principle #6

If you eliminate a relationship, you must step in and aggressively spend time with your child and meet his needs. If you deem that a friendship is not going to prove to be profitable to your child and you make the hard decision to “cut it off,” then you had better be ready to fill the void that will be left from the severed friendship. It is a huge mistake to cut the ties of a child’s friendship and not be there for him.

Peer Principle #7

Emphasize the importance of the right kinds of influences. Proverbs 17:17 says “A friend loveth at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.” Quite simply: a parent should spend time talking with his child about being the right kind of friend. Our children ought to be the “iron” that is able to sharpen others.

We have a responsibility to train our children to be the right kinds of influences…and the right kinds of friends. Character in friendships does not just happen. May our lives and the lives of our children influence others for righteousness’ sake and for the glory of God.