Cheese Curls & Vanilla Wafers was first published in the September 1999 issue of the Hearts at Home magazine.
By Sheri Schubbe & Tena DeGraaf
While in the grocery store the other day, three-year-old Dan walked up to the bags of cheese curls and confidently placed a bag in the cart saying, “We need these mom!” Dan’s mom wondered why he was choosing this particular snack because she had never bought them before. But suddenly she remembered that cheese curls are a lunchtime favorite at his friend Kristen’s house.
Then, a few days later, Kristen visited Dan’s home. There she was given vanilla wafers for a snack, and Kristen enthusiastically exclaimed, “I LOOOVE these cookies!!! We don’t have them at our house!” Again, it was just a different snack that her mom did not buy. (But now she does at the insistence of her daughter!)
These little incidents got us thinking about a deeper truth. The influence that children have on each other starts at such a young age. Granted, three-year-olds wanting snacks that were enjoyed at a friend’s house is a simplistic example, but leads to a profound realization, nonetheless. As children grow, they influence each other in countless ways, including clothing styles, music, language or habits. All too commonly, though, these relatively harmless examples become more important and complex issues such as drugs, alcohol, and prejudices as a child matures.
So what, then, can we do as parents of young children? Monitor developing friendships of our children with others. Discuss and model values and habits we want our children to emulate. Keep lines of communication wide open, and most importantly, PRAY. Ask God to help our children meet and choose friends who build them up- not tear them down, friends who will influence our kids in positive, character-building ways, and those who will help our kids grow up with healthy self-images and happy times.
As children grow, reinforce the importance of choosing friends carefully and wisely with God’s Word: My son, if sinful men entice you, do not give in to them (Proverbs 1:10), and Do not be misled: “Bad company corrupts good character.” Come back to your senses as you ought, and stop sinning; for there are some who are ignorant of God—I say this to your shame (1 Corinthians 15:33-34).
Pray for your children constantly, and teach them to turn to God themselves, for He will guide them in finding true and lasting friendships.