Throughout the Bible, Jesus is given many mighty names—Savior, Redeemer, Prince, King, Lord. And yet He humbles Himself to accept a different kind of name as well.
“I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.” (John 15:15)
To be like Jesus means to befriend others. Just as Jesus loves and accepts us, we are called to love and accept the people around us—even when it’s difficult.
Does your tween have trouble making new friends? Or perhaps she has many friends and is not in the habit of reaching out to kids who are lonely or different. Regardless of your daughter’s social tendencies, it’s important to encourage her to be like Jesus to those around her. Here are some ways you can do that.
1. Ask your daughter about kids at school who seem to be alone often at recess. Has she noticed them? Is she one of them? Building awareness is the first step. These days many schools have a “buddy bench,” which makes lonely kids easier to identify. Teach your daughter to keep an eye out for kids needing a friend—or to sit on that buddy bench without shame if she needs to.
2. If your daughter has an established group of friends, warn her not to become so exclusive that other kids can’t break through. Encourage her to welcome other kids into her group’s game or activity. She can be a leader in showing kindness to others.
3. On the other hand, if your daughter is shy, encourage her to take small steps toward building relationships with others. Simply smiling and saying “hi” can feel like a scary move, but it could lead to the start of a friendship. Your daughter won’t know until she tries. Then if the other kids don’t respond well to your daughter’s gesture of friendship, remind her to stand confident on her identity in Christ. She is loved, beautiful, and fully accepted—and nobody can change that. Regardless of how the other kids react, she has still honored God by being friendly.
4. Explain how kids who seem mean or strange or nerdy are all God’s created ones, too—just like she is. And there is value to be found in every person. Jesus wasn’t afraid to be seen with people others considered outcasts. Is your daughter willing to be like Jesus in that respect?
5. Finally, make friendships a team effort. When your child shows interest in befriending another girl, invite the girl and her mother out for ice cream or frappes—together. Get to know the mom as your daughter gets to know the child. This way you’ll be demonstrating the love of Christ for your daughter and giving her a wise example to follow.
For more help on this topic, check out our book, Girl Politics: Friends, Cliques, and Really Mean Chicks by Nancy Rue. It’s perfect for exploring friendships and tween social drama from God’s point of view!