Over twenty years ago, when my husband and I moved into the home we are in now, my sons were 12 and 9 years of age. There were many young children in this neighborhood at the time, and my boys were eager to make new friends. At first, my husband and I were delighted to see our kids forming new attachments, but then we began noticing the negative behavior of many of our neighbors’ sons and daughters. Eventually, Joe and I had to forbid our boys to associate with the neighborhood kids.
What happened next only confirmed our suspicions. The kids that were not allowed to be friends with my children began attacking our house and property. They did so much damage that we had to get the police and our insurance company involved, and we eventually had to have all new siding put on our entire house. As the years passed, our sons were sometimes attacked verbally, and even physically, by the neighborhood children. And my husband and I did our best to protect them, along with God’s guidance and help.
As I look back, I have to admit that if I had to do it all over again, I would still make the difficult decision to forbid my children to hang out with the neighborhood gang. Even with all of the persecution and grief we endured from those who lived among us, I know in my heart that I did the right thing. The Bible says, “Do not be misled: ‘Bad company corrupts good character.'” (1 Corinthians 15:33 NIV) No matter how we try to convince ourselves otherwise, we are affected by those we spend time with. I know that my children would not be the godly, well-adjusted, and successful young men that they are today, if I had not kept a close watch on their companionships.
If you are a parent, the Lord holds you responsible for protecting your children from toxic relationships. Even if your children are adults, you have a responsibility to give them good, sound counsel in this area, and to pray for them to make wise choices. Scripture says, “Enjoy the companionship of those who call on the Lord with pure hearts.” (2 Timothy 2:22 NLT) Pray this verse for your children regularly, and trust God to work in their lives and hearts as you cooperate with His good plans for them!