When you move internationally with a 9 and 7 year old in the middle of the school year - you worry as a parent. You worry...
"Will they make new friends?"
"Will they be able to maintain their old friendships from long distance?"
"Will they fall into the right crowd?"
"Will they be bullied for being the new kid?"
"Will they be bullied for being the kid with special needs?"
"Will they feel lonely?"
The following above are just my top 6 friendship worries for my children. I promise you, I often carry an anthology of concerns as a mother. It's something I'm working on but I thought you should know. I, too, worry for my kid's and their friendships.
Friendship is a BIG deal to a child. When they experience friendship pain or loneliness, it can be heart wrenching and powerless to watch as a parent.
"How do I make these kids be nice to my kid?" I once asked my mother. I'll never forget how her eyes watered when she answered,
This past June, a 12 year old girl, from a local community nearby, committed suicide after a year of being bullied from a group of "friends". 12. Years. Old. Aaaaaaaaaand from what I can tell...she came from a stable, loving home and was a star student and athlete.
A few mothers at my children's swim practice were discussing this tragic event. One mother said,
"I can't imagine 12 year old girls being so cruel that a child would take her own life." Not a beat went by when an older mother with teenagers spoke up:
"I can. My girls barely made it out of middle school alive."
You could tell from the tone of her voice that she and her girls had survived some kind of severe friendship pain. No one in that circle of mothers was brave enough to ask what had happened. We were all too afraid to hear what kind of pain that our kids might have to face in the future.
As a researcher of friendship and as someone who speaks about friendship regularly, I know the science - friendship pain is inevitable. Not one of us escapes being rejected by our peers or experiencing seasons of loneliness. I also know that friendship is vital to our health and emotional wellbeing. We weren't created to be alone.
Genesis 2:18 says,
" Then the Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper who is just right for him.”
From the very beginning, our lives were designed to THRIVE alongside of others.
So, what do I do, as a parent, who knows that friendship is important and that friendship pain is inevitable? How to do I help my kids?
This may seem elementary but it's something that I have overlooked for many years. I have failed to pray for my children's friendships. Only when crisis hits, do I think to ask Jesus for a little help.
As I have been preparing my kids for a new school year with new backpacks, lunch bags, and supplies, I realized that I need to prepare them for a new school year of friendships too. The best way for me to prepare is to pray. I began to outline a 31-Day prayer schedule for myself. I told a friend about it when I was confessing that I was going to battle my friendships concerns for my kids with prayer. She said,
"Send me a copy of it. I'd like to pray for my kid's friendships too."
This is how the 31-Days of Praying for Your Child's Friendship Podcast Prayer Guide was born.
It's not rocket science or magic.
It's simply prayer.
And if it's something that you would find helpful, by all means...
'Cause I am just like you - a parent who wants my kids to have healthy and life-giving friendships.
Noelle is a speaker, podcaster, and self proclaimed: Friendtor. (Friend +Mentor = Friendtor). She is the podcast producer/host for Friending Podcast and is a regular co-host for the podcast, Slices of Life. She lives in North Jersey with her hot husband and two wild children. She is a big fan of Constant Comment Tea, the Oscars, and Lesley Knope.
Noelle is passionate about helping women find grow in their calling and encourage one another to do the same through the art of friendship. For more random facts on Noelle you can click here or stalk her on Instagram.