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  • Tim Elmore

What Your Kid's Friends Reveal About Them

The peers children associate with say a lot about their identity and security.

What Your Kid's Friends Reveal About Them
  • The stability of your kids’ friends often reflects the stability of their own self-esteem.

  • Every kid benefits from three important friendships in their circle.

  • Your child will usually reflect the median of their five closest friends socially and emotionally.

Elle is a longtime friend whom I’ve known since elementary school. On the surface, Elle seemed like any other girl, making average grades, and blending with the rest of her class. Upon closer examination, however, it became clear she needed more affirmation than anyone else I knew.

She attracted friends who were also needy and often in trouble. They were socially awkward and weren’t sure how to talk about anything but themselves.

She drew boyfriends who needed rescuing. Observing these male friends over the years, it was apparent Elle felt better about herself as she rescued them from their problems.

She flitted from one activity and commitment to another, not sticking with anything for very long. It’s as though she was afraid of being found out as a fraud or a poser.

What Your Kid's Friends Reveal About Them Appointment

Your Relationships Are Rarely Healthier Than Your Self-Esteem

Herein lies the sobering truth about all of us. Our relationships reflect what we think about ourselves. They’re seldom healthier than our self-esteem. This means our relationships reflect how we feel about ourselves: Like attracts like. It also means the stability of those relationships tends to be about as stable as our self-esteem: Unstable attracts unstable. We migrate toward the people with whom we feel most comfortable—which can be good news and bad news.

When Lacy’s mom and dad talked her into dating and marrying a solid, successful young man, things looked great at first. In time, they had three children, a nice home, and two new cars in the garage. Then, about eight years into the marriage, Lacy began exhibiting self-sabotaging behaviors, forming a drug habit, and hiding extramarital affairs. Her parenting grew volatile, swinging from lackadaisical to strict. It was as if Lacy was conveying: “I don’t deserve this life.” Within a year, Lacy divorced her husband, only to rebound into an unstable relationship with a man in prison, incarcerated for selling illegal drugs. She got pregnant, and the rest is history. Lacy began living below her potential, unstretched and stagnant.

How could she do this? Our relationships will rarely be healthier than our self-esteem.

Questions to Ask About Your Kids

If you’re concerned your kids may reflect this dilemma, try asking yourself these questions:

  • Are their friends insecure or fearful?

  • Do they lie, cheat, or steal anything from anyone?

  • Are they a rescuer who hangs around others who need help?

  • Do they attract needy friends who make them feel better about themselves?

Motivational speaker Jim Rohn says that we are the average of the five people with whom we spend the most time. This is based on the law of averages, a theory suggesting the result of any given situation will be the average of all outcomes. Consider this in light of your kid’s friends.

What Your Kid's Friends Reveal About Them In Person Appointment

What Your Kid's Friends Reveal About Them Virtual Appointment

3 Ingredients That Boost Your Kid’s Self-Esteem

Our generation of parents is consumed with our children’s self-esteem. While I admire this, too often we create a synthetic self-image for our kids, built on exaggerated praise and trophies. It frequently backfires, creating young adults with high arrogance and low self-esteem. As our two children grew up, I concluded their sense of identity was fed by three elements:

  1. Their achievement: When they accomplished something, it fed their self-image.

  2. Their affirmation: When we or others affirmed their conduct, it fed their self-image.

  3. Their association: Spending time with those who stretched them fed their self-image.

While we can’t force any of these, parents, teachers, coaches, and youth workers can position their kids to enjoy these elements and create environments where they happen naturally. It must be a balance between organic and organized. We must be intentional and laissez-faire. Each of these elements must feel real, not artificial or contrived.

How You Can Encourage Them

My wife and I watched these realities firsthand when our kids grew up. We discovered a lot about how our kids viewed themselves by observing their friends. We attempted to play a natural and positive role in deepening their own sense of identity. Let me suggest a rule of thumb I tried to practice as they grew up: Encourage your kids to find at least one:

Stretch friend: These are sharp, confident, and positive friends who stretch them.

Safe friend: These are easy friends—peers whose influence is equal and comfortable.

Support friend: These are friends whom your kids influence, mentor and inspire to grow.

We usually live better lives and continue to grow when we spend time with those who are ahead of us in their growth, those who are next to us in our growth, and those who are behind us that we can help to grow.

What Your Kid's Friends Reveal About Them Appointment

In the end, our circle of friends nudges us to stoop or to stretch to our potential, which eventually creates our reputation. And this creates a mold for our lives. James Clear said, "Your reputation is your most important asset. It precedes you before you walk into the room and lingers long after your presence is gone."

Let’s guide this process for the next generation.

Tim Elmore - Book -


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