31 January 2005

Single...With Children: Choosing Friends Wisely Isn't Just For Kids

Single With Children: Single parents must choose friends wisely

By Susie Parker
Publication Date: 02/11/04

We often remind our children to choose their friends wisely. From our vantage point, it can be easy to see who does and, more importantly, does not have their best interests at heart.

As parents, we can't be everywhere. That's why we spend as much time as possible trying to impart lessons, set examples and warn of those dangerous forks in the road.

Such lessons aren't exclusive to children. Being a single parent can be a lonely experience. There are times when we feel as though we just can't manage all of the decisions, the time demands and the responsibilities.

Loneliness is a dangerous state of being. It can cloud our judgment, push us into making bad decisions and, because we have more than ourselves to think about, the wrong choices can have far-reaching implications.

Just as we try to safeguard our children from making a wrong turn, we have to be vigilant not to veer off the path ourselves. The difference is that, as parents, the paths we choose will impact our children as well.

It might not be a bad idea to periodically examine the folks who try to gain entrance into your life. If you're new to being single, or even not so new, be alert to acquaintances who are attempting to become too close, too fast, whether they're male or female.

If someone comes along trying to establish "instant friendship," look no further than sea monkeys. I can't even count the number of times I talked my parents into buying those things when I was a little girl, and every single time I would find myself disappointed because there were no little monkeys swimming around in my water tank. I just never gave up. And it just never happened. The really important relationships in life don't tend to happen instantly. Friendships take time to grow and blossom, just like love.

I'm not suggesting one affect an air of paranoia, and it's perfectly fine to keep a friendly countenance, but ditch the rose-colored glasses. Look to the people who have a dependable history within your life and use them as a reference point.

If you're feeling pressured, uneasy or just plain unsure about a new intrusion into your life, there's probably a good reason for it. Heed the adage - when in doubt, don't.

Our kids are not the only ones susceptible to peer pressure.

If there's someone influencing your life in a questionable or negative way, taking advantage of a weak or vulnerable moment, your kids will be watching to see just how you handle it. The cues you give will influence how they handle such situations.

Try to make certain you give those watchful eyes something worth imitating.

Readers can e-mail Susie Parker at susiewrites@gmail.com or write to her c/o Amarillo Globe-News, Features Dept., P.O. Box 2091, Amarillo, TX 79166.

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