There’s a fine line between influencing and meddling in your teen’s life, and you can bet they can tell which side you’re leaning towards.
Every parent wants their teen to have the best influences around them as often as possible. Unfortunately, you can’t pick your teen’s friends for them; that will always be up to them. However, there are steps you can take as a family to ensure that your teen has the best shot at building a solid foundation of relationships as they moves through their high school years.
1. Make friends with other parents
Don’t be fooled by those who say such things, for “bad company corrupts good character.”1 Corinthians 15:33
A big reason most parents have difficulty influencing who their teens spend time with is because they have no connection with parents of the kids who could be great friends to them. Building relationships with other parents provides opportunities for you to bring families together; it’s not you forcing relationships on your kids, but rather providing them with more options by building great memories.
Try setting up some dinners, or joint family activities that are fun, lighthearted, and encourage discussion. For example, take your families for a barbecue in the park, go mini golfing, or even visit a fun place like Dave & Busters, where the parents can engage in conversation while the kids enjoy themselves with their various activities.
2. Make your home inviting
And all the believers met together in one place and shared everything they had. They sold their property and possessions and shared the money with those in need. They worshiped together at the Temple each day, met in homes for the Lord’s Supper, and shared their meals with great joy and generosity[j]— all the while praising God and enjoying the goodwill of all the people. And each day the Lord added to their fellowship those who were being saved.Acts 2:44-47
The reason the Christians in the first century church were so effective in helping change lives was because they were remarkably good at opening their homes for people to gather. They met for all sorts of reasons, everything from Bible studies to just eating and hanging out. Most of the conversions in the book of Acts took place in people’s homes, and the houses of disciples were consistently reliable sources of fellowship and inspiration.
Is your home like this? Or does yours tend to be more walled off?
A big way to help your teen develop great relationships is by making your home a fun, relaxing, and inviting place for other teens. As you continue to build relationships with other parents, they’ll feel more and more comfortable having their teen make your home their secondary one.
3. Have honest conversations
“I have the right to do anything,” you say—but not everything is beneficial. “I have the right to do anything”—but not everything is constructive.1 Corinthians 10:23
One mistake parents often make is not sharing vulnerably with their teens about their pasts. A lot of times parents, out of fear that their teens will repeat their mistakes, will dish out otherwise solid parenting without any context. You’ll be surprised by how much your teen will think through who they spend time with and what they’re doing with their friends after they’ve heard your stories from your youth, and even from present day.