|image courtesy of jurvetson via flickr|
The main principle to remember is that it is the responsibility of the child's parents (not friends) to lead him. Of course, as a child gets older (especially into the teen years), his peer relationships grow increasingly significant. But at a young age, the child should be entirely under the authority, protection, and direction of his parents. Not only do I as a parent need to recognize this, but my children need to know that their role is not to correct their friends' beliefs, especially when it comes to amoral or non-safety-related issues. Their role is to love their friends, proclaim God's greatness and love, and trust in God's authority (including that which is ordained to parents).
For a related example, the Bible clearly teaches that for anyone who doesn't believe and trust in Jesus as Lord and Savior, that person will be condemned an not spend eternity with Him (John 3:17). We have taught this to our children in a number of ways. However, it would not be right for my children to go around telling other people, "Since you don't believe in Jesus, you are going to Hell." Truth is truth, but we must always consider the context in which it should be shared. Sometimes it may be appropriate to share this truth, but often it is not.
As parents dealing with this tension of truth versus context, we have to be pro-active (including using role-playing) in order to help prepare them to handle these conversations, ahead of time. We have tried to help them figure out how to respond to their friends' potential questions without lying and without violating the authority of their friends' parents. It is another great opportunity to remind them that it is a God-given responsibility for parents to lead their own children. This is truth that they need to know now (as they honor and obey us), and in the future (should God bless them with children of their own).