I never really expected my girls would endure friendship rejection. Most definitely I expected to raise my kids in a Christ-centered home and community. Surely, they would not be subject to the God-less relationships similar to my childhood.
I should have known this was a terribly incorrect assumption when my oldest was in the first grade. I hung out with her teacher one day at lunch and observed. While all the other children were playing, my daughter meandered around the two-foot-high timbers bordering the Christian school’s playground perimeter. She repeated this lonely walk-a-thon daily. She rarely played or engaged with the other kids. The teachers never said a word, but I should have noticed the early piercing of her heart. Throughout that entire first-grade year, my little six-year old would beg me to homeschool her.
So, that’s how I came to homeschool my kids. I’ve been doing it for a long time now. We noticed and took decisive action to right the wrong in her heart. Friends had broken her spirit.
But the wisdom of the Lord would prevail. My oldest daughter, now almost 17 years old, has enjoyed many friendships and rich community time since our homeschool journey began. However, even with close friendships, a single rejection can break her heart and impede her ability to be thankful for what she does have.
Have you or a loved one been a victim of the negative power of rejection?
Why do friends stop texting, inviting, or including? My child and other teens I know can be surrounded by a multitude of friends, yet completely alone. I have overheard some say, “Never alone. Forever lonely.” There is an epidemic of hurting teens who appear included and well loved on the surface. The signs of hurt and loneliness are evident, though, in other areas of their lives, such as strife with parents and siblings, sudden withdrawal from friends and family, or lashing out in anger.
I want to pause and acknowledge that even my own children have sometimes been the rejecters instead of the rejected. I ask you, please forgive us if you have been that friend we unwittingly excluded or denied.
What’s a mother supposed to do about this deep and wide issue of heartbreaking, repeated rejection?
We leave it to these young girls to solve their own relationship problems while we consume Christian books learning how to help our kids marry and protect their purity. However, the way they live in relationships today is a great picture of how they will live them out as a wife and mother.
In the name of privacy and (unearned) trust, are we truly expecting these little self-centered hearts to work it out for themselves?
I have this sickening feeling that many of our children could be developing a pattern of quitting or divorcing things that no longer thrill them. Like me, I am sure you desire your children to be finishers, faithful to the end, to forgive and forget quickly, and to demonstrate endurance with people.
But how will our daughters learn to be good friends if we don’t teach them along the way? How will they be faithful wives if we don’t teach them to have endurance now?
I submit to you that it’s time to help this generation lead their heart while learning to be a good and faithful friend.
First, we must be acutely aware of how our daughters operate in friendships. We consistently need to be sitting on the outside of their social circles, listening and asking tough questions like,
“Why are you not spending time with this friend anymore? Tell me what’s really going on. Don’t withdraw your friendship just because an issue came up.”
We need to teach them: Friendships require open discussions, even if it’s embarrassing, because working through difficulties creates deeper, stronger relationships. Don’t kill friendships with walls against intimacy simply because someone hurts you. Deal with the adversity. Run straight into it with truth and love.
Secondly, we need to teach our kids to love without expectation. Even if someone starts to dislike them or even hate them, they should choose love, and the source of love lives in us. We are called to practice forgiveness at least 490 times. Do you really want your kids to practice un-forgiveness or divorce with their friends just because they can’t work through a challenging moment? Let’s encourage our children to choose to be a good friend to have—how to be a “stayer” and not a “player.”
Thirdly, we must teach them to lead their own heart. The truth is that I can’t keep my daughter’s heart from breaking and I have limited control over how other people treat her. However, what I can do is teach her how not to have an easily offended heart. I can teach her to lead her thoughts by taking them captive.
Lastly, I ensure my daughter knows who she is in Christ—that she is trademarked by God. Period. A trademark is legally protected; your brand is legally yours. Likewise, your identity in Christ is yours and cannot be changed by any other person’s choices or opinions.
Ultimately, the ability to be a steadfast friend in Christ speaks to the way we measure success in home education. I would venture to guess that if you raise a person who is a faithful friend to others, your child will grow to be a good friend to you. Someday, your positional authority as parents will fade into the sunset and what remains in your child will be a brother or sister in Christ whom you have taught, hopefully, to love with His love. When our own children are good friends to have, they reflect the love of Jesus, which amounts to a greater accomplishment than any ACT, SAT, or MBA.