Parenting In Faith Friends”

By Donna Rayburn

One of the most challenging times in children’s lives can be over friendship issues. As parents, we can reflect upon our childhood to relate to our children’s dilemmas. We can sympathize with their choices because we, too, made similar choices for friends. The temptation is to “help” our children skip the heartaches by insisting they listen to our advice when it comes to a “good friend” or a “selfish manipulator who is going to hurt you” friend.Like all life experiences, we learn from them. Friendship is no exception. However, we can, as parents, assure our children that we won’t abandon them. God will always be with them as stated in Hebrews 13:5 “… I will never leave you nor forsake you.”We know we can’t dictate who our children call their friends because, quite frankly, we know they need to experience heartbreaks to shape who they will become as adults. Incidentally, dictating our children’s relationships will most likely promote severe rebellion that could turn out to be worse in the long run.Through research and experience, I have learned that I need to listen to my child as he talks about his friends and ask questions like, “Does he treat you the way you want to be treated?”, “How does he treat his other friends?”, “What do you like about him?” or “What do you wish he did differently?” Parents can guide their child into arriving at his own conclusions about his friend. This is more impactful and beneficial than dictating the relationship. Clearly, if children believe they are making their own decision, they will embrace it and become accountable for it. Role playing is a fantastic way to help your child practice how and what to say and do in difficult situations. One thing I talk about with my children is the need to focus on quality, not quantity. Proverbs 18:24 says, “A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.”Two great resources for me that discuss challenging issues of parenting have been Raising our Daughters and Raising our Sons by Kathy Masarie, MD. You can find these at

Donna Rayburn is a local resident, mother of four children and author of I Accidentally…, a story about her son’s kindergarten adventures. E-mail her at or visit

Parenting In Faith“Vacation With Your Family”

By Donna Rayburn

When you think about your childhood memories, what comes to mind? Most of us would have some comments about our family vacations. Whether our memories include adventures like the Griswold’s seemed to find themselves in or just the family together in the same hotel room or campground for days at a time, the fact remains that they are lasting memories. Not only do we want our children to have fond memories of their childhood, we also want to reinforce to them how important family is.Taking some time away from home, even if only a few miles from home for a few days, creates an atmosphere of togetherness. It is a time to regroup and utilize the time we have outside our homes to enjoy each other’s company or learn about each other without the distractions of our daily routines.Families with children can most appreciate this time when their children spend much of their “free time” at different outside activities from each other so spending time together as a family is a limited commodity.At the end of the day, when or if a co-worker lets us down or someone we thought was a “true friend” disappoints us or when the inevitable boyfriend or girlfriend crushes us, who do we want to feel comfortable confiding in? Family. But if we haven’t spent much time building that relationship, that comfort for help won’t be there.Find time regularly to embrace your family without distractions. The benefits may be intangible in the short term but will be tremendous in the long term.Donna Rayburn is a local resident, mother of four children and author of I Accidentally…, a story about her son’s kindergarten adventures. E-mail her at or visit

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