"After 9/11," she said, "People needed comfort, companionship, and the chance to laugh together. And we got to provide that."As parents, we wonder how the show's easy promiscuity-sans-consequences also contributed to the fabric of society, but that particular rant is not for this post. The show's popularity revealed a huge need among young people — the desire to be surrounded by a group of accepting, loving, fun (and preferably beautiful) friends at the same stage of life.
In the "olden days," neighbors in the community and cousins in the clan met this need for peer connection — not that it was always good, even back then. But at least parents knew the kids who influenced their kids. Now, our children spend the bulk of their hours with hordes of unrelated strangers we might never meet, in an adult-free village called school.
We're called to be as wily as Bond when it comes to understanding our kids' friends. We listen for names that are repeated, and for names that used to be mentioned but are no longer part of our child's conversation. We ask questions about these names to understand who has the power, who's at risk, which friends are in pain, who's the giver, who makes the peace. And even though it's what our kids might dread, we show up in school. Walk the halls. Listen to the chat. Sit in the hall and ask God to reveal His presence in this place. Because even though Friends the sitcom might be over, the real thing is an intense influence in our kids' lives. (Tempered and surpassed by the power of prayer, thank God.)