Part Two of a 2-part series

No matter how many children your family has, they can benefit from friendships with other families. Only children like Jonathan and Honor enjoy playmates their own age. "Jonathan likes to play with both Ian and me, but it's important for him to play with other kids and not just be around adults all the time," says Annie. 

Children with siblings can also gain great advantages from befriending children who aren't part of their same household. "It is different for the kids when they're with friends rather than their brothers and sisters," says Bob. "They learn more about how to get along with others when they play with kids from different families who have different life experiences."

 

Forging a friendship with another family is a powerful way to teach your children about God's love.  "I think Christianity is about building relationships.  That's how love is demonstrated. And our children need experience building fellowship," Ruth says. 

A
nnie, too, believes that, "Relationships are a top priority.  I want Jonathan to see the importance of friendship modeled for him.  It gives him a sense that, although other things are constantly changing in the world, he can always count on God's love and the friends who God uses to express love."

 

Friendships bring greater blessings, however, if they're formed not just between children, but entire families. "When the husbands, wives, and children all click together, everybody wins," Annie says.

 

Men - whose work schedules tend to be more inflexible than those of women - typically face more challenges when trying to find time and energy to invest in friendships.  But, with some advance planning, entire families can get together on a regular basis. Then men don't have to choose between spending time with their own families and spending time with friends; they can do both at the same time.  "It's really an ideal way to combine time with family and time with friends," says Annie.

 

Here are some ways your family can build friendships with other families:

 

Choose several families you sense God leading you to get to know better.  Don't overwhelm yourself by trying to become close friends with a huge number of families, such as most of the families in your church.  Remember that you need sufficient time and energy to invest in your friendships.  Pursue close friendships only with the number of families you can realistically connect with on a regular basis.


Plan.  Make friendships a top priority in your own family.  Communicate regularly with your spouse and children about ways you'd each like to get together with friends, and work together to build your family's schedule accordingly.  Make time to see your friends even during your family's busiest times, knowing that the effort is worthwhile.