**Post by guest blogger Rusty Rea**
‘Show me your friends and I will show you your future’
The wise sage Dr. Cliff Huxtable shared these timeless words with Theo on The Cosby Show. When we stop and really think about it, they are right on target. When you think of your closest friends you will notice how the bond you have developed is more than just ‘similar interests and values’ – you actually almost turn into one another. Same lines of reasoning. Same humor. Same verbiage. Etc… This is all part of the ‘Natural Mimic’ we possess as humans, and it builds deeper relational bonds. That being said, not only do we as adults and parents need to choose our friends wisely, but we need to train our children to do the same.
As I have mentioned before, the parenting philosophies of the ’90s that said we don’t want to crush the psyche of a child and that a parent somehow becomes a ‘necessary evil’ that needs to try to ensure the child’s feelings are never hurt, did little more than make a bunch of insecure backbone-less parents. Unfortunately, this philosophy also made more and more parents afraid of their children’s friends too. Instead of parents telling their kids their ‘friend selection’ needs to be revamped and some of them need to be cut, parents became afraid of how the other kids would feel or how their kids would get treated.
The ’90s philosophy had the arguments that it is somehow shallow to kick certain kids off of your child’s list of friends, and that you are valuing (or devaluing) kids based on whether or not they “make the cut”. By trying to degrade parents and discredit the value of parenting, this philosophy will try to make you feel shallow and petty if you tell your child to cut some of their friends. It will accuse you of being elitist and selfish, and those who adhere to it will make you out to be promoting socioeconomic or racial discrimination. If you cut based on socioeconomic factors or on race, then shame on you. But why tolerate keeping the foul-mouthed, disrespectful, violent, rude, liars for fear of someone’s opinion of your motives?
‘Show me your friends and I will show you your future’ – if you don’t instruct your kids how to discriminate based on values, and make wise choices of friends then your kids are open game to be shaped by whomever comes their way.
As I close, I want to make one more point. I just said instruct, that means explaining your lines of reasoning to your child, not just telling them to stop hanging around certain people. don’t forget that last part…it’s usually the hardest part…