Children begin making friendships from their early years in nursery, preschool, children’s church and as they interact with siblings and relatives. All of the relationships in their lives will be built on love at some level. Scripture tells us in John 13:34-35 to LOVE one another:
34“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. 35By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
I am totally amazed at how little kids are taught at home and at church about friendships, love, relationships, or looking for Mr./Mrs. Right. It is like we leave it out there for them to figure out on their own. It is something that affects their entire life whether they are a Christian or not. When you do not teach your child about something, someone else will. There are movies, magazines, and books all dealing with relationships, friendship, marriage and worldly views of love. Because the media throws the word around and makes it synonymous with sex most students I come in contact with have no idea of what makes a real friendship let alone a relationship or what they want in a marriage. As Christians we have the answer straight from the manual. Have you really considered God’s word and what He has taught about love? Everything you need to teach your child about these different aspects of relationships is taught in 1 Corinthians 13. What is Love? How do you apply it to children as they grow so they will know what they are looking for when it “HITS” them?* (PLEASE READ NOTE AT END)
I Corinthians 13 LOVE IS:
kind, patient, never jealous, never boastful,
never holds grudge,
loves the truth,
saddened by evil,
supportive, hopeful, and trusting.
This is love. Think about each area and apply them to whatever phase your child is in, learning to make friends, dating, or searching for the perfect will of God in their life mate. When you are teaching your child about making friends you tell them the same thing you would tell a teenager about falling in love. Basic truths must be consistent to have value. They cannot change with age. They also watch you to see how to love. All of us can improve in that area.
I firmly believe that there are four areas that apply to making friends, relationships and ultimately marriage, and they are:
Friendship – every relationship should begin with friendship – of all the words describing love above, which one(s) would your child place into friendship? I would think they would like to claim all of them about their friend, that’s what makes them a best friend. Physical – there is a physical level of all relationships, whether just friends or someone you want to marry. You should teach them that you have to be comfortable with their physical presence – as they change over time, age, fade physically, or an accident or illness sets in, none of that will matter. You teach your child that skinny, fat, short, tall, braces … it does not matter. So when they are older and looking for a lasting relationship, they are drawn to someone regardless of physical flaws. And then when they start dating, and chemistry sets in, the relationship is not lopsided. Chemistry can fade, a relationship built only on hormones will fail (teach your teens this truth). I tell kids, physical is not just about being ‘hot’ or ‘fine’. Everywhere you look you see couples that in the human eye look ‘lopsided’. And you think, “how did he/she get them?” They have found the true physical balance that real love is about. Spiritual – you have a spiritual concern for this person as a friend; you have a spiritual bond with them in a relationship. If you are on two different wave lengths it will not work out. I am not allowed to talk about ‘spiritual’ matters at school. I can only tell them that if they do not agree spiritually, like both are atheists, both environmentalists, both same theology, same beliefs, like faith, then they are bringing problems into the relationship; major hurdles to be jumped and negotiated until they are gone or they destroy the relationship. Mental – you have to be able to communicate. Many men do not want women that are more intellectual, but it goes further than that. If one values the pursuit of education and the other scoffs at it their kids will receive mixed messages. One will say, go play, you are only young once while the other wants to give them educational goals and values. It is not just education, it is all things mental, you have to be on the same wave length and have a healthy respect for the other partner’s intellect. Never should one joke about the other partner’s intelligence.
Basically, you have to be healthily balanced in all four areas. You take into a relationship as few problems as you can, because when you take them in, they are in … until resolved and/or they destroy the relationship.
When it comes to dating and marriage, the Bible is explicit about Christians seeking Christians. It is hard to be ‘best friends’ with someone with whom you are not ‘equally yoked’ (2 Cor 6:14-18), even more so in a relationship or marriage. I would go so far as to teach them they should not date a non-believer. Do not tempt yourself into falling in love with a non-believer by dating them. By teaching your child the scriptures about love and what the four areas are, you help them when they are making those all important decisions in dating and marriage. When they start dating should not be the first time they have thought about such matters or considerations. Give your child the greatest gift, the ability to love as Christ loved us. The greatest of these is LOVE.
*If you have not already started praying for your child’s future husband/wife, then start now. I started when my girls were infants. If children are already teens, get busy praying. I assure that satan is not waiting in his planning on making a mess of things.