Where do we draw the line with our children having worldly friends?
Where do we draw the line when allowing our children to be friends with "worldly" people?
For example, it is easy to let our children play with neighborhood kids. But what if our children are in college, and find friends--decent young people who seem to respect our views; what about going to that other person's house, or being in their wedding, or going shopping with them...? Where do we draw the line? And how do you explain it to them?
We have not had problems yet, although we have allowed all those things, but don't know if we are going "too far." Our parents did not let us associate with "worldly" people at all, other than neighbors. Neither do we want to be
"holier than thou."
We need to prepare our children for 'real life.' Real life is that those of us who work in the regular work force, will work side by side with those who are worldly in the sense that God and His Word have no place in their heart. Once our children enter college or university (unless they have attended a state school), they will work together with
non-Christians of all kinds of shade as well as Christians of all different convictions. So to shield them entirely from association with the 'other-thinking' people may not be prudent. Many young people are caught up with the wrong crowd once they leave the safety of the home and church school because they are simply swept off their feet. So
besides the necessary 'shielding' there also needs to be gradual and guided exposure. One way is the association with other-thinking children in the neighbourhood. We need to stay in control, however, of these relationships. I wouldn't suggest letting my children go to the 'neighbour kids' without having spoken to the parents and communicated what our 'values' are by which we are raising them. It may make good conversation but it is also our duty in line of the promises we have made to God with the bringing up of our children. This of course is easier and attainable when they are young. As they grow older and their social circle enlarges, we need to stay in touch. Here our 'family time and discussion' are so vital. Discussing the rights and wrongs with the open Bible is the training our children need. This will prepare them to work together with the gay and lesbians on the work forces (as many young people face in today's society)! That reality is often shocking to us adults but it is a totally different world today in which our young people study and work. But as the Scripture teaches in 1 Cor. 15:33 teaches, 'Evil communications corrupt good manners." In other words, evil friendships are as infectious as diseases are. Health is not infectious and so good morals are not either. It is therefore very important to discuss and define who I go shopping with, visit in their homes, spend social time with. No contact is neutral and it is very easy to stir feelings towards a person with whom we begin to share our time and thoughts. I would caution the youth against developing 'social relationships' with other minded (nice) young people.
Where to you draw the lines? That's not easily answered. Some are just seeking contact with 'worldly' for fun or relaxation. That is super dangerous. But others have in their 'social contact with other-minded' a clear 'agenda.' They want to connect with this person in order to share the Gospel or encourage a relationship to invite them to church.
Who could disapprove of such an intent? Yet we need to acknowledge that such good intentions still form great temptations. If that is really your agenda, you may suggest 'time-limits' on how long or how often you continue to interact with the person for an indefinite period may become an 'evil communication corrupting good manners.' We simply aren't strong enough in ourselves to withstand the evil of sin and therefore need to put up our 'guards.' None is so strong spiritually not to fall.
From the above it is clear that parenting in these areas remains a delicate task. Our only and best recourse is fervent prayer for wisdom for and with our children. Pray with them and about these matters when they begin to face such social contacts. Discuss them openly and search together for God's directions. Be 'partner' with your older children in these critical developments of their life and share your own experience of the challenges in your work life.
May God bless you.