HIV and the Church

Celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month by Defeating HIV&AIDS

Part Three: Choose Your Influential Friends Wisely

Together, we are celebrating the 35th Anniversary of Latino/Latina Hispanic Heritage Month, September 15 – October 15, 2012, a fiesta for all Americans to express appreciation for Latino/Latina contributions and culture.  In this short blog series, I want to humbly pass on a few words of encouragement from this pastor’s heart to my Latino brothers and Latina sisters on how to celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month and defeat HIV&AIDS.  The second thing you can do is…

Choose Your Influential Friends Wisely

You can be an acquaintance and friend with anyone, but not all acquaintances and friends will be influential enough to affect your family’s purpose, principles, morals and values.  Influential friends help shape your family.  You can and should choose your influential friends wisely. 

Influential friends are a reflection of you!  There is an old and true saying in Spanish, “Dime con quién andas y te diré quién eres.”  Anglos know it as, “Tell me who you hang out with, and I will tell you who you are.”

Some time ago, I counseled a Latino family struggling to stay together.  They told me that, out of 100 adult friends and acquaintances, every one had experienced failed partnerships or marriages, and, out of 78 friends of their children, only three children lived with their original fathers and mothers.  They knew few who could easily influence their hope for a loving marriage and lasting family.

Having a circle of positive influences supports everyone in the “familia.”  Grandparents, uncles and aunts, cousins and experienced friends can be great people with whom to share successes you’ve had or get wise advice about struggles you face.  They can be both sympathetic listeners and active partners handling difficulties.  You will find their experiences heartbreaking and heartening.  I have known lots of Latino friends who have gotten wonderful advice and practical help from family and friends around a boisterous dinner table or while clutching a hot coffee in a quiet café with a caring friend.

Allowing your children to associate with children of family and friends you trust often reinforces thoughts, ideas, attitudes and actions you would like to see in and from them.  Don’t be afraid to choose playmates for your children when they are extremely young; guide your children in choosing friends as they grow; and teach them how to choose their own friends as they mature.  Always be on the lookout for teachable moments, which allow you to point out characteristics of good friends and impart friendship skills.

A wise circle of influential family and friends provides positive role models, and good examples help everyone make the kind of wise choices that keep all far away from behaviors that lead to HIV&AIDS.

NEXT TIME: Follow the Encouragements of Your Faith.

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