Teaching Your Children Lessons on Relationships
In 1975, a Grammy Award nominated song by War, received much airplay on the radio.
It asked the following question in melody and its title "Why Can't We be Friends". This
is a simple but yet important question. Relationships determine so much of the success
or failure most of us experience in life. Such phrases as "it's not what you know but who
you know" and "birds of a feather flock together" ring true in reality. One comedian
said "I love my family but can't stand my relatives". The world of relationships is very
difficult to navigate. Parents can do well by providing their children with important
As children grow up and move further away from the apron strings, the influence of their
peers play an ever-increasing role in their life. It is extremely critical that your children
associate with peers who will have a positive influence on them. As parents, you must
teach your children how to select relationships. Here are a few tips:
Be a role-model. Teach lessons on true friendship through action. Let your children see
you and your friends have serious discussions, eat meals, work on projects, and have fun
together. Do not let court-oriented TV programs and the suite of negative talk shows be
their reference point for making relationship decisions.
Teach your children that being a good person is not a boring and lonely life. Having fun and "doing right" can co-exist. We live in a culture that often communicates a
message that bad boys and bad girls have all of the fun. Unfortunately, many children
seek the company of those who participate in self-destructive lifestyles. However, you
want your children to understand that genuine fun is neither destructive to self or others.
Real fun endures and brings about long-lasting emotional happiness. Similarly, you must
teach your children that actions have real consequences. For example, your behavior will
determine whether you can go to college or merely wear a college t-shirt in the future.
Let your children know that you always have their best interest. As children age, the
parent child-conflict will sometimes increase. They are evolving into a stage where they
are asserting their independent will and grappling with their identity. It is critical that
your children know that you love them and will always be there for them. No matter who
enters into their life, they must understand this truth. When children understand this truth,
they are less likely to fall prey to the destructive voices of their culture.
Teach Your Children to choose self-respect over popularity. In our current "reality TV" culture everyone wants to be popular. For many, it doesn't matter how you get there. If
one can not be famous then being infamous is a sought-after path. Your children must
learn to give priority to their "self-opinion" and those who really care about them over
the fleeting views of peers. Take time to talk with your children about popularity and
self-respect. Share experiences from your youth in regards to your smart and unwise
attempts to be popular. More importantly, share the lessons you learned. Let them know
that self-respect can sometimes be a lonely path but always prevails in the end.
Encourage your children to select friends who are loyal and really care about them.
This is particularly true for the teenage years. It is a very lucky person who has a friend
who cares for him more than he cares for himself. One true role of a friend is to protect
you from you. A real friend will intervene when you are contemplating a destructive
course of action. Let your children know that these friends are out there if they will only
wait and chose wisely. However, there is another prerequisite. As the scriptures say, "He
who wants a friend must first show himself friendly".
Friendships are a tough sea to navigate. As parents, we so much want to protect and keep
our children near the safe shore of home and family. However, our children will continue
to grow away from us and develop other relationships. Hence, our best strategy is to give
them the wisdom to choose wisely. And the rest is up to them.
Ron J. Clark, MPP is a national conference speaker, consultant and writer on
manhood and fatherhood issues. He is cited in numerous male and family services
articles and research reports. For more information, please forward your emails
to: firstname.lastname@example.org or call 757-344-5685. You may also visit his site at