My parents don’t like one of my friends because he drinks sometimes and has been skipping school. But he has lots of good qualities, too. Can’t I help him by being his friend?
Learning how to be a friend can bring great joy to your life. Having friends can be fun, and good friends can help you to be better than you would be without them. Your friends are the ones who can celebrate your accomplishments with you and are there to help you work out your problems.
But being a good friend certainly does not mean giving up your own standards. A real friend would never help or encourage you to go against the worthy goals you have set for your life.
Your parents know how important friends can be in your life. They know, because they saw it happen when they were teenagers. They know that being in the wrong place at that wrong time can be devastating. They know that it’s important to be in school every day. They know how important your grades are to your future. They also know that, even if you aren’t participating with your friend in his activities, chances are good that if you are with him long enough, you may give in to temptation. In other words, they are frightened that your friend’s influence on you may be stronger than your good influence on him. You need to be very honest with yourself. Are your parents correct? Have you been persuaded in the past to skip school or go places with your friend where there is drinking? If the answer is yes, you may have to give up being with your friend so much or possibly give up your friendship.
One of our readers, Nichole Loveless, 16, from Cedar City, Utah, had some excellent advice. She wrote, “It has been said that there is strength in numbers. Your parents might feel better about letting you hang out with this friend if you have other friends with you for support who don’t do those things.” She goes on to add that to be a good friend, you should invite him to join a good group who has fun doing things together that are right. If your friend is willing to join you in participating with your family or with your ward Young Men and Young Women, then you should invite him. Let him see what it is like being with people who are trying to make the right decisions in their lives.
However, you cannot go with him to the places he is choosing right now. Don’t fool yourself into thinking that you can protect him or keep him company at drinking parties. You can’t. The only way you can help him is by staying as far away from those things as possible. He needs to know he has one friend who will not give in no matter what. He needs to know that you are reliable, that you are strong, that there is nothing that he or anyone else can say or do that will make you change your mind. The only way you can be a good friend to him is by refusing to participate in the things he is choosing at the moment. If you give in, who can he turn to when he wants to turn his life around?
You may feel that you are being a little harsh and judgmental, but you can never help someone out of the hole he is in if you are in there with him. Since he isn’t seeing clearly and is making bad decisions for himself, you need to show the way. You know he has great potential. But he will not likely change for the sake of a friend. He must find his strength through faith in the Lord. A good friend will offer him the way to learn more about the gospel and about our Lord and Savior. Be that kind of true friend.
In high school, I had several friends who would hang out with others thinking they could maybe help them be better. But all too often it resulted in my friends lowering their standards too because they got so used to being around it all. I found the best thing to do is just let them know that we still care for them but don’t agree with their actions.
Micah Christensen, 21 Watkins Glen, New York
Try to influence him without letting him influence you. Don’t participate in the activities he does that go against your principles. Try to set a good example for him.
Michael Scadden, 14 Dallas, Oregon
Instead of me being a good influence, my friend was a bad influence on me. Soon I found myself in situations I didn’t need to be in. Now I listen to my parents. Read 1 Thessalonians 5:22 [1 Thes. 5:22]. It helped me a lot.
Jaime Bree, 16 Crescent City, California
Even though you want to help them, they can easily tear you down to their level. I know it may not seem like it now, but parents can see the whole picture, and they know what’s best for you. Just try to set a good example for people, and maybe they will want to change. It’s up to them, not you.
Tiah Iverson, 15 St. George, Utah
I started out so valiant and true to my goal to fellowship my wayward friends. I would try to intellectualize that they did have good qualities, yet they were against my principles. Looking back, after I honestly assessed the situation, I noticed how great of a spiritual decline I went through. Charity should be practiced but not to the extent that your eternal progression is hindered.
Rachelle Cromar, 16 Sandy, Utah
In Matthew 5:16 [Matt. 5:16], it says, “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.” This scripture can help you in this situation. Ask your parents if you may invite him to family activities and continue to be a great example.
Emily Solomon, 15 Winter Garden, Florida