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Be a friend to the younger generation

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By The Staff

This week we take a look at Asset #15, Positive Peer lnfluence. According to the Search-Institute, “Youth are more likely to grow up healthy when their best friends model responsible behavior.”

While you can’t choose your child’s friends, you can have a big impact on their friendships. From the time our kids were tiny, my friend Karen and I knew we wanted to have the “hangout house.”

You know the house you see on the Tyson food commercials when the kids come home from school with friends and want to eat you out of house and home.

We knew that even as they were growing that one day we’d be making potatoes with every meal just to fill them up. There would be some purchases we’d need to make in bulk and we’d be okay with that.

That fact that your children’s friends feel welcome in your home is a must.

The museum quality vision may be out the window for some time, while teens begin to emerge. There’s always a ball being tossed, dancing taking place or impromptu wrestling being performed.

As your children move on from the elementary level to middle and high school friends begin to acquire a variety of dressing habits, hairstyles and other accessories.

Remember the outside does not necessarily reflect the inside. I’ve heard many stories of rather rude adults who feel the need to make comments about what they would or wouldn’t let their children do or wear.  

While it doesn’t sound like a big deal, imagine if people went up to someone in your family and said, “Boy I wouldn’t let my mom wear that, it makes her butt look big.” What about, “If that was my dad, I wouldn’t let him wear black, knee socks with his shorts, he looks like a tourist.”

It sure is funny how adults don’t hesitate to pass judgment on youth, when we’ve all been through the grunge period, big hair and shoulder pads of the eighties, tie dye and bell bottoms, all which were on display at Chamberfest.

The flower children of the ‘60s are now the business leaders of today, no matter what he or she was wearing back then. The question is, what kind of friends did they have and did they have an influence on the person they became.

I always like to remind you to praise the positive and this situation is no different.

Let your kids know when you like their friends. Tell them what you like about them and let them know they’re always welcome at your home.

While peer pressure is viewed as a negative, the reverse is true too. Friends can often bring out the best in us.

A good friend encourages you to accomplish things you don’t feel you can and supports you when you miss the mark.

If your children are young find similar parents during playgroups and arrange for smaller gatherings.

If you’re new to a neighborhood, get to know your neighbors, they may become valuable resources, confidents and friends to share the both good and bad times.

Your children also pay attention to the character of your friends so pick wisely.

Make sure you and your friends model the behavior you would like to see youth emulate.

 If you and your friends use vulgar language, kids will mirror the habit. If you constantly gossip about others not in your midst, the impression is created in them to do the same.

Opportunities can always be created to celebrate even the smallest successes of both your friends and theirs.

A successful game, a great effort or a small gesture all meld together to create the adults they will grow into someday.

Make sure your contributions are made to the success of their peers whenever the opportunity is presented to you. Someone may do the same for your child or grandchild one day.

Bernadette Lauritzen is the Assets Coordinator for the Juvenile Justice Advisory Board and the Chamber of Commerce. On Monday, listen to KRSN AM 1490 from 9-10am to learn about local youth grant recipients with Vanessa De Los Santos. She will also draw the winners of the recent Mrs. Los Alamos raffle.