When my children were young, I had an older mom-friend who I loved to watch as she parented her older teens and college-aged children. She really enjoyed them, and the relationship she had with them was one that I longed to have with my children as they got older. I learned so much from her over the years, and now that my own children are both in college, I have been practicing a lot of what I saw her do.
One of the most valuable things that she taught me was the importance of reaching out and celebrating your children’s friends. I have been doing this since my kids were in high school, and it has not only served to create strong relationships with their friends, but it also deepened my relationship with my own children.
Accepting and loving my children’s friends is another way I can be part of my children’s lives.
Here are some ways that I have been able to celebrate the wonderful young people that come into my home:
1. If they are having just one person over, I make the evening a “party” in honor of the friend they have invited. For example, when my daughter had her friend Kristi over one night, we told her we were having a “Kristi party,” and we made her favorite breakfast, let her choose the movie, let her choose the dessert, etc.
2. If they have certain friends over on a regular basis, find out what their favorite foods are, and always have it available to serve when they are in your home. My son and daughter’s friend, Kyle, loved bagel bites, brownies and coffee. I made sure to have, what I called “Kyle friendly food” on hand all the time.
3. As much as possible, allow “the party” to be in your home. That way you get to know your kids’ friends, and they get to know you. Let them study in your home. Let them have bonfires in your yard. Let them come over and order pizza. Having a welcome home opens the door for you to form strong relationships with your kids and their friends.
4. When they are in your home, serve them as much as you can. Make them tea or hot chocolate, and love on them. Have a small stash of inexpensive gifts in your home on hand to give away as you see opportunities arise.
5. Connect with their friends on Facebook, etc., and look for ways to make them laugh or encourage them.
When you pursue your children’s friends, you are telling them that you want to be a part of their world and that the people who are important to them are important to you. It may take some time, and you might end up having some late nights, but it is so worth it in the end. Your kids will always remember your efforts and your relationship will be strengthened.
And I really think you will end up having a lot of fun as well!