Remember the show Saved By the Bell? My younger sister and I were avid viewers when we were tweens.

Saved by the Bell

In one episode, the theme was friendship. Typically, one of the main teenage characters learned a valuable lesson by the end of the show.  But in this particular episode, it was a parent who learned the lesson. The show came to an end with a parent apologizing to his child saying something like, “I’m sorry. I should have never tried to tell you who you can have as friends.”

As it happens, our father was passing through the den as that line came pouring out of our television set. He immediately stopped, turned to my sister and me, and declared that in our house, the parents would always have final word on who we could spend time with. As long as we were under their authority, dad and mom would have veto power over every friendship.

Was this restriction on my childhood friendships a cruel oppression by my parents?   Of course not. It was an act of love.

Psalm 1 begins by saying:

Blessed is the man
    who walks not in the counsel of the wicked,
nor stands in the way of sinners,
    nor sits in the seat of scoffers;
but his delight is in the law of the Lord,
    and on his law he meditates day and night.

As parents, we want our children to be blessed. Therefore, we must protect them against the counsel of the wicked. Among many other things, this includes keeping a watch over the voices speaking into the lives of our children, and sometimes stepping in with restrictions if certain ungodly voices are beginning to have an influence. We should pray that God would give our children friends who delight in God and His truth, friends who will stir them up to love and good works rather than sin. Though folly is bound up in the heart of a child (Proverbs 22:15), there are many little ones on whom God’s gracious light has shined, and we should pray that our own children would not only be counted among them but also be surrounded by them.

Whoever walks with the wise becomes wise,
    but the companion of fools will suffer harm (Proverbs 13:20). 

We will not be able to control the voices speaking into the lives of our children forever. We will see our ability to protect them diminish as they grow older and more independent. Yet while they are young, we should not fail to give them biblical instruction on true and false friends, so that when they are older they will be equipped to identify and walk with the wise. Ultimately, we want them to walk with the Friend who sticks closer than a brother (Proverbs 18:24)

Now, just as in the house where I grew up, my boys know that their parents have veto power over all their relationships. By God’s grace, one day they’ll thank me for it.