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How Can We Help Our Child Out of an Unhealthy Friendship?

Two campers

Reality is, we all need friends! Friends are a good gift, and essential for our spiritual health. However, when a friendship takes the seat of God in our life, we’re in danger. Kara paves a way for us to steer our kids toward healthy friendships, originally two years ago, but today we get to learn from these timeless truths again!


The righteous choose their friends carefully, but the way of the wicked leads them astray.

Proverbs 12:26


While it might be easier to recognize idolatry of a spouse, child, career or dream, it’s much more difficult to identify the trap of an idolatrous friendship. We are so often blind to the dysfunction of unhealthy friendships, and as a result, walk into destructive sin without blinking twice.

Taking it a step further, our child’s peer relationships will be some of the most formative to who they become. So, if friendships hold this much weight, how can we grow in our awareness of unhealthy tendencies and come alongside our kids to help cultivate healthy friendships?

  1. Know the warning signs. Be aware of your child’s friendships. Know the context of their conversations, the frequency of their communication and the type of things they do together. If you’re concerned, ask:
  • Is jealousy a toxic thread in the friendship?
  • What characteristics does this friendship bring out in my child?
  • Is the friendship exclusive or inseparable with a lack of interest in others?
  • Is there an imbalance or abnormal rhythm of giving/taking?
  • Does the friendship require constant communication? (texting, phone calls, snap chats etc)
  • How evident is sarcasm or unnecessary criticism?
  • Does one friend “speak for” the other?
  • Is flattery used as manipulation?
  • 2. Provide a safe place. 

    3. Establish appropriate boundaries. As your child begins to see and understand how their friendship might be more destructive, than it is beneficial, help them establish and uphold healthy boundaries.

  • Help your child take responsibility for their own actions.
  • Help your child practice saying “no” when they feel pressured to do or talk about something they are uncomfortable with.
  • Limit the frequency and exclusivity of the time spent in the unhealthy friendship.
  • Encourage your child to spend time with a variety of friends.
  • If efforts to implement boundaries fail, help your child get out of the friendship.
  • Don’t hesitate to call on a pastor or professional counselor.  

We want our kids to thrive in their friendships, directing their dependence towards Jesus, not one another. Pray toward and continue to foster a heart in them to worship God alone!

Check out this series on “Friendships Gone Wrong” by Kelly Needham.

Camper Corner

Friendships are good gifts from God, but they can also be destructive when they take the place of God in our life. Is there anyone in your life you feel like you cannot function without?

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