Parents like to think that their children’s growth and education come primarily from their teachers at school. Would that ’twere so. Our kids’ education is derived to an astonishing extent from their peers, from the people they hang out with. Each year you will have less and less influence on the people they choose as their friends. Each year you will be less and less aware of the conversations and culture that they are part of.
It is important that you have the “friends” talk with them early in life. “Walk with the wise and become wise, for a companion of fools suffers harm” (Proverbs 13:20). Some young people despise education. They can become a boat anchor to your kids. Some despise their parents or truth telling or the law or the Christian faith. They take foolish risks; they love danger; they breathe rebellion. There have always been plenty of people like that—the book of Proverbs calls them “fools.”
Try to create a culture in your home where your kids are comfortable bringing their friends over (so that you can have a look at them and listen to them talk). Don’t let your kids be evasive or mumbly about who they’re hanging out with or where they are going. Show an interest. Ask questions. Watch for behavioral changes. Stop grumbling about being their personal taxi driver and welcome those times when you’re in the car with them.
Make them take out their earbuds and actually talk with you.