As a parent it is your responsibility to teach your children about their family.  Perhaps as a parent you never thought about the importance of family. Time tells us that the older one gets, the more one's activities will center on his family as well as a few close friends whose relationships have weathered the test of time and have been reciprocal.

Parents of young children nurture friendships for those children, and that is good and necessary.  As they say, "one has to BE a friend to have a friend," and that is a lesson that should be learned early in one's life.

Friends will provide each of us with support, entertainment, and direction in our lives.  Only if we continue to return those efforts will a friendship thrive over time.

Young children need lots of friends.  They enjoy the camaraderie as well as the diversion that having lots of friends provides.  Children enjoy the birthday parties, camping trips, church activities, school and after school lessons, sporting events, and other youthful activities as they grow. 

Spend time with your children talking about what it means to be a "friend," and what it takes to maintain a friendship.  Sometimes those things that are important to a friendship are not obvious to young children.

Consider carefully any moves that your family makes from one locale to another.  Time them so that they provide the least disruption in your child's life that you can manage.  YOU decided to have children, so you have an obligation to make their life as steady and solid and routine as you can--and preferably remain in one location for the duration of their childhood. And yes, I realize that such an eventuality is hard to manage in this day and age, but at least try! Living in one place for a long time is a boon to friendship!

Children grow up and move away, and if you the parent have done your job, providing them with the best education possible, making sure they go to college and finish and then obtain a job that will allow them to support a family, you won't have them coming home to live with YOU!  You shouldn't want them to come back to the nest--except of course for visits!

As we mature, our spouse, if we have one, becomes the center of our lives once again, and then the cycle begins all over with one's own children and eventually grandchildren.  A lifetime of friends is pleasant to ponder, but as most know, friendships end because of eventual dissimilar interests or distance.  The bonds can be rekindled, and reunions and gettogethers with those with whom one has spent many good times, are always a pleasure.

In one's waning years, however, it is one's family that is still there, still attentive, and still happy to be a part of one's life if, when they were young, you as a parent instilled in them the importance of their family.

The friends will drop off over time; the family remains.

Parents should realize that children do not remember much before age four or five, and so visiting with your extended family is not so much for your children as it is for your family members!  What your children WILL remember as they grow will not be their friends' birthday parties that all run together with their similarity, but instead  the time spent with a favorite aunt and uncle or a grandparent or a slew of cousins swimming in the lake or shooting off fireworks on the Fourth of July in the same place every year, an uncle who took them horseback riding, or an aunt who taught them how to knit or who read to them or made them a chocolate cake, or sleeping in bed rolls on the floor of a screened in porch in summer.

Don't deprive your children of those memories.

Make sure as your children grow older that they know who their grandparents and great grandparents and aunts and uncles and cousins are/were, what they did for a living, what their interests were, what they did that was special in THEIR lives, and how they influenced YOU. Repeat stories about your family that YOU heard as a child and still remember.

Children who do not know and respect their family's heritage become adrift in a world that begs for attachments.