Where to Find the Ideal Friend
The Multi-Faceted Marvel of An Ideal Friend
Connections with other humans and the healthy concept of belonging to another person are part of what we hope for in the multi-faceted marvel that is an ideal friend. From the cradle to the grave, we desire the close relationships that reward us with security and contentment.
I’ve heard it said that one of a baby’s biggest fears is the fear of falling. The need for security is ingrained in us. Being anchored and rooted in safety is basic to our self-worth. There’s also an inherent bond with an ideal friend that has the power to make us feel worthy.
One of the best pieces of advice I heard when I was raising my kids was to give them roots and wings. What does that advice have to do with an ideal friend?
First, foundation strength—like roots—is an anchor that goes deep and provides fortitude for living. It manifests itself in courage, resilience, moral fiber, uncompromising character, backbone, purposefulness, and spirit (to name a few). These are qualities essential for growth and the maintenance of life, enabling us to stand steady.
Roots. When the strong winds of life blow—and they will—we may bend and sway, but it’s the roots that have gone deep that will hold us fast.
Middle School Relationships, Young Adult Relationships, and Beyond
Second, security fosters self-worth. “You are valued, you are honored.” Which one of us doesn’t want to experience someone genuinely believing in us? Who doesn’t appreciate that someone will go to any extreme to protect us?
Wings. There is tremendous confidence that comes from knowing we are valued and honored — precious in God’s sight. Our determination to instill that confidence in the lives of those we love is a powerful way to give them wings.
I like the song that Bette Midler recorded with these being a few of the words:
“Did you ever know that you’re my hero? You’re everything I wish I could be.
I could fly higher than an eagle, for you are the wind beneath my wings.”
In the sense that kids are trusting us, we as parents are the first ideal friends our children will have. Middle school is certainly not the beginning of relationships, but it might be the beginning of a child’s exposure to exploitation.
Being taken advantage of, or coming face to face with mistreatment happens in a variety of ways. Bullying is one. Physical and mental abuse are others. Human trafficking is another—the extreme.
Kids are trusting. Kids are vulnerable. And all too often, they are defenseless.
Kids look to adults to shelter them from the unknown. To whom else should they look to guide and protect them?
Don’t Turn A Blind Eye
Friends are human beings—they’ll let us down. We’ll let them down. Simply put, we are imperfect people.
As children grow they have different worries and fears. Toddlers fear the dark, or something that might be under the bed, or monsters—dinosaurs and zombies. When I was five-years-old, I was terrified of fire. A house in my neighborhood burned to the ground. I had a reason to be afraid of fire.
Fear is healthy in many instances. The danger of improper relationships is one of those instances. Kids need to be taught—in an age-appropriate way—which relationships to fear, same as they’re taught not to put their little fingers on the hot stove.
Manipulative and devious people are the perpetrators of human trafficking. They’re online, they’re in our communities and schools, and they’re targeting vulnerable individuals.
Human trafficking is an atrocious crime, but kidnapping is not necessarily a part of the scenario. Kids—young ones and teens—are often lured and tricked into thinking they have a friend online.
Are your kids looking for an ideal friend in all the wrong places? The internet, perhaps?
Who Is At Risk?
Perpetrators are looking for vulnerable individuals. Young people are susceptible to the calculated advances, the deception, and the manipulative tactics of those who would exploit them, given half a chance.
Zombies and dinosaurs are not ideal friends. Do your children know what to do if they are approached by a stranger offering—anything!—online or on the street? Do they know what to do if they’re bullied into believing they are not valued as a person?
Do they know what to do if another person touches them inappropriately—whether it’s Granddaddy or the baby sitter? Giving our kids the understanding that goes with valuing themselves and their bodies is to give them the same strength that roots give trees. To give them confidence in their own worth is being their hero. In so doing, you will be the wind beneath their wings.
And that my friend is where they are going to find the marvel of an ideal friend.
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