Why do we allow harmful people into our life?

Parents want their children to have the right type of friends for a very good reason. We know how important friends are. They are the people we got into trouble with when we were kids. We did things with friends we would never have done with our worse enemies.  When you are with your friends, your guard is down and you go with the flow and hope you don’t get caught.  We tend to do what our friends do.  It’s risky to say NO / won’t do that to friends. You’ve just excluded yourself. You might have to find new friends.  So, the right type of friends from an Adult / Parent perspective would look something like this:


  • are polite and respectful
  • don’t get into trouble because they make the right choices
  • get good grades in school
  • don’t do drugs (therefore won’t use drugs with my kids)
  • don’t sneak out of their house to meet their friends in the middle of the night
  • don’t drive fast

There are kids out there like that. The trick is to find them.

What is always interesting is our students’ definition of who they want to be friends with.

My students’ top 5 were:

  • someone with similar interests
  • someone who looks like me
  • someone who everyone liked — cool / popular
  • someone who was attractive — good looking and / or had nice clothes
  • someone who was smart / intelligent / good student / good athlete

Do a survey with your own students.

You have just moved to a new school.  You don’t know anyone.  The most natural desire is to find a group of friends.  You have to find a friend before lunch. You do not want to eat lunch by yourself!!!!

  • What type of person will you be attracted to?
  • What type of person will be attracted to you?

The psychologist John Tooby recently wrote that if he could explain one scientific concept to the public, it would be the “coalitional instinct.”  “In our natural habitat, to be alone was to be vulnerable.  If you had no coalition (a group of friends), you were at the mercy of everyone else, so the instinct to belong to a coalition (a group of friends) has urgency, pre-existing and superseding any policy-driven basis for membership,”.

Ask your students:

  • What does policy-driven basis for membership mean?  This is huge if you ever wonder, why do I bring the wrong (the type that I follow and get into trouble with) people into my Life?

Some good questions for you students:

  • How important is it for you to have a friend / a group of friends at school?
  • Is it so important you will value anything other than goodness?
  • Is it so important you settle for shallow friendships, based on people who appear to have some sort of attraction / power such as popularity, brains, looks, fun to be around, fashionable.
  • Do you want a person / friend in your life because he / she is a good person (just seems to always pick the right path in life) or a star?

Teacher Note:

This is an example of coalition instinct.

I had a student who came back to see me when she was a senior in High School.  For some reason she wanted me to know how she was doing. Years before she made a decision to be popular; this was an important character decision for her. She had to shed the old person who’s every word and action earned her respect and admiration from her teachers and put on the new person who’s every word, facial expression and action was aimed to impress the popular people.  She became very popular and made a nice old lady (me) tired.   When she came to see me, she had given up popular for character and a future.  Sooner or later everyone experiences a I’m never going to put myself in that position again moment (best friend got pregnant during their sophomore year), a decision is made, self-awareness increases and behavior changes…
As we walked out the classroom door, I asked this High School Senior, “why were you friends with A ________________  D_______________?”
“Mrs. Mccoy I really don’t know.  She really wasn’t all that nice to me.”
I bet I know, in that popular group, she was the best girl in the group of girls you had anything in common, with the possible exception of I want to be popular.  You were using each other.
When you are in a group, you have to have a friend.  You both looked around and made your selection No, No, No, — you’ll due — for now.

If you relate this story to your class finish with this question:

What kind of friends do you have?

Do yourself a favor:

Look for people with character. Find people who appreciate and love you?  You’ll know by how they treat you. They will do what is best for you and they won’t stand there and let you hurt yourself.

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