Growing up one of my favorite movie franchise’s was Indiana Jones. Toward the end of the third film, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, Indy is in search of the Holy Grail when he encounters an ancient Knight Templar who poses a choice to Indy. He is shown several cups ranging from the simple to the richly adorned and he must choose which is the Grail. Choosing the wrong cup would have dire consequences.
When Indy makes his choice, he chooses the most basic cup believing that it would be a cup that a simple carpenter would use. He is rewarded for his choice by four simple words from the Knight Templar — “You have chosen wisely.”
Now, I know what you are thinking, what does this scene from Indiana Johns have to do with parenting. Well, hear me out. I promise this will all make sense soon.
I believe as parents we are faced with choices similar to Indy’s every day when it comes to raising our children. While they are young it is up to us to decide what influences we will allow into their lives and which we will do everything we can to protect them from. Unfortunately for us, even though our goal is to choose wisely, there is no wise knight to tell us when we have made the right decision.
One of the most important decisions we will help our children make is who their circle of friends should be.
It is becoming clearer to me as my son begins forming his own unique personality, how much influence those he comes into contact with have on him. His peers influence many aspects of his personality, including his vocabulary and his communication and socialization skills.
“A mirror reflects a man’s face but what he is really like is shown by the kind of friends he chooses. The simple but true fact of life is that you become like those with whom you closely associate for the good and the bad.”
Right now, my son is only 14-months old, too young to consciously choose who he spends time with. That decision is left to me and his mother. So I am very conscious of who I allow to influence him.
I know most parents have witnessed that one child who normally is so mild manners and relaxed but becomes “rowdy” after spending time with another out-of-control toddler. As a parent, you try not to be frustrated with your child because you know they are only acting out the actions they have seen in others but it doesn’t mean it’s easy trying to get your child back to their “normal.”
All kids go through stages and just because they may be acting out doesn’t mean they are bad kids. But I know that if I am trying to teach my son to be respectful and not to hit. It would be a poor choice to allow him to spend much time with another child that has a tendency to push and hit other children.
“Associate yourself with people of good quality, for it is better to be alone than in bad company.”
We have all heard the old saying, you are who you hang out with, and that bit of wisdom is just as true for our young children as it is for us adults.
The Raising Children Network, a partnership of member organizations of Australia’s leading early childhood agencies, stated, “The first five years of a child’s life are critical for development. The experiences children have in these years help shape the adults they will become.”
I want my son to become the best version of himself that he can be and that means surrounding him with friends and role models that will portray positive character traits for him to emulate.
Before becoming a parent I would have argued that how a child behaves comes down to parenting and parenting alone. Now that I am a father, I realize that children are influenced just as much, if not more by what they see.
As Proverbs teaches us, “He that walketh with wise men shall be wise: but a companion of fools shall be destroyed.”
Until the time that my son can make the decision of who he calls a friend, it is my responsibility to make sure that he is surrounded by wise men, woman, boys, and girls.
Our children are surrounded by potential friends and role-models. Some look perfect at first glance and some may not, it’s up to us to choose. May we all choose wisely!