Friends are the lifeblood of adolescence. Our children begin to turn to their peer relationships for advice, encouragement, and also as a way of identifying themselves. Do they hang with the athletes? The band? The mavericks? The church kids? Getting to know your middle schooler's friends is a great way to get to know your changing child. So, how do you do this?
An Open Home. Who cares if your home is clean or cluttered? Growing teens just need a full fridge! “I always joked with my husband that I never knew who I would be fixing breakfast for on the weekends,” remembers cookbook author Barbara Smith (she's also mom to son Michael W. Smith and daughter Kim). “My kids’ friends would stay the night, sleeping on the floor or the couch, and I loved it. They felt welcomed in my home, and that is what it is all about.”
Networking. Stay involved with your child’s teachers and coaches. Get to know other parents. Collect phone numbers and emails, and connect with your child’s friends’ families. This is a season for you to concentrate on building relationships, too. Ask God to show you opportunities to pray for these families and minister to them, as well as ways you can join together to provide your kids with a strong parental support group.
Go Where the Kids Go. Learn your way around myspace and facebook and set up your own account. This is a great way to keep tabs on your kids and their friends. Do not hesitate to ask questions of your middler. Ask: Who’s number keeps showing up on the caller ID? Who keeps texting you? Indeed, it is your business, and your child will be secretly pleased to have a mom who stays involved.
Besides making your presence known online, what about school functions? Do you drop your kids off at games, or do you hang around and get to know other families? What about church? Do you drop them off, or do you become part of that church family?
GET INVOLVED. It's part of "being there" for your kids.