Teaching Kids About Friends

When I was in grade school I was teased mercilessly.  I remember, shortly after having moved to a new school in the 5th grade, crying in bed at night and having to confess to my mom that I just didn’t have any friends.  What a terrible feeling of isolation at such a young age.  It was the 80’s and I had bad hair, thick glasses, and clothes with the wrong labels.  Or none at all.  I was new, I wasn’t cute, and everyone made sure I knew it.

So today I was outside fiddling with a car we have parked in the road, and I heard my son coming home before I saw him.  He had ridden down the street to play with a friend and I wasn’t expecting him home for another 45 minutes.  As soon as I heard the crying, I knew it was J.  Head down, hand wiping away tears, I could only see his red helmet gleaming in the sun and my heart turned over.  What could it be?  What happened? Of course my mind was racing with all sorts of horrible options.

After J calmed down, hiccuping and swallowing his sorrow, he explained that the friend he was playing with saw his older buddies down the street.  The older buddies asked J’s friend to play, and off he went.  When J asked his friend, “Hey–where are you going??”  The friend said, “I’m going to play with them,” walked in their home, and shut the door in my son’s face.

Awwww.  POOR BABY!

Kleenex.

A moment of silence, please.

I could completely understand J’s feelings and heartbreak in that moment.  It’s been a few years, but I can still remember the sting of rejection–the stab of betrayal.  Recently I heard a statistic that said that in their school careers, 100% of kids will be the recipient of name-calling or unkind words. I suppose that shouldn’t surprise me, but now that one of those 100% has a face–and a face that I love–the story changes.

I want to hold him, or possibly keep him home.

Wrap him in a cocoon, swaddle him in a blanket, secure him in my nest.

Is it too late to home-school??

My husband pointed out, as we discussed the incident, that if I wasn’t so tormented as a kid myself, I may not be the compassionate person I am today.  [Did I mention that my husband was one of my chief bullies in 5th and 6th grade??  Maybe he’s trying to take credit for my compassion…]

So tonight at bedtime we spent a long time talking about friendships with the kids.  We’re not instantly going to write off the boy down the street because of one poor choice, but we did decide that this year, our one big family prayer is that the Lord will help our children to:

1.  Choose their friends wisely

2.  That God would give them at least one good friend

3.  That God would give them the courage to walk away from bad situations, even if they’re with “good” friends.

We’re also focusing on one of my favorite verses for instructing about friends:  “Bad company corrupts good character,”  I Cor 15:33.  Our kids know that one inside-and-out.  Now let’s just pray that the Holy Spirit reminds them of these words in those moments of confusion, betrayal, and sadness.  And moms out there–let’s help each other by talking to our kids about treating one another kindly.

Do you have a tip to share?  Please leave a comment and encourage each other!

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This entry was posted in Education, Faith, Family, Friends, Home, Motherhood/Mommy Duties, Play, Seasons of Life, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Teaching Kids About Friends

  1. Jessica says:

    Definitely be your own person. And don’t be afraid to tell a friend, “no.”

  2. Rachel says:

    ok, jane…i have been bawling half the day, so when i read this post…it was meant for me to read today!!! i’m adjusting to sending BOTH my boys off to school…i love having then with me! anyhoo…i, too, was teased ENDLESSLY in grade school & jr. high…and now my oldest has been struggling with a certain boy during recess…and now that i’m a noon hour aide i get to witness what has been heavy on his heart…its been going on for the last part of 1st grade, as well…oh, Lord, how to deal with it? my poor guy needs a confidence boost…and it seems some kids are just born with weaknesses like self-esteem…my youngest boy went to school with a “mental list” of the boys who are mean to dawson, and was gonna take care of business! lol…anyway, now that i practically wrote a blog post, thanks for the verse…and the feeling that i’m not the only one who struggles to do right by my kiddos…pray,pray,pray 🙂

  3. heartscape says:

    Rachel,
    Thanks for your comment. Also, as a principal’s wife, I encourage you to go to Dawson’s principal and teacher and be assertive about your concerns. There is no excuse for tormenting to continue [especially something that started last year!!] Brandon spends a lot of time dealing with kids who bully and belittle, and sometimes I think it takes a “big scary” authority figure to set it straight with the instigators [and their parents!]. It’s so heartbreaking though, isn’t it? There’s no excuse for kids not wanting to go to school because they’re frightened or feeling small. I’ll pray for you!!

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