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5 Relationship Lessons
Way back in 1975, a popular Grammy Award nominated song by War asked the following question, “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. Fathers can do well by providing their children with important relationship lessons.
Here are five powerful strategies to employ today:
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 drama-filled reality television shows be their reference point for making relationship decisions.
Teach your children that being a good person is not boring. 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. However, you want your children to understand that genuine fun is neither destructive to self or others. Teach your children that actions have real life 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 back. 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 cannot 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. Let them know that self-respect can sometimes be a lonely path but always ultimately prevails.
Encourage your children to select ‘authentic’ friends. 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 choose 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 as fathers is to give them the wisdom to choose wisely. And the rest is up to them.