Sometimes, you just don’t like your teen’s friends. At this age, your teen is making more and more adult decisions every day and it is not entirely under your control who your child will befriend. Although it is not a parent’s job to decide at any age whether you like the friend or not, you do want to make sure your child is safe, not being hurt, and can make good decisions for himself.
Don’t Judge A Book By Its Cover
So, your daughter has a friend with blue hair and maybe even some piercings. She may be simply seeking her own individuality. The friend may actually be harmless and have very good moral values. Sometimes, it’s the friend that looks “normal” that encourages drug use, defiance, ditching school, and other negative behaviors. Watching how your teen is acting will help you determine if you need to step in and teach about making better choices.
Changes in your Teen: Questions to Ask
1. Behavior: Has your child’s behavior changed? Is she being more defiant? More aggressive? If so, there may be a friend who is negatively influencing her.
2. Grades: Are grades consistent with what they have been in the past, or are they falling?
3. Attitude: How is your teen treating you and other adults? How is she treating her siblings?
These signs may indicate that your teen is in a friendship that may be negatively impacting her.
Watching the Friendship More Closely
When you don’t like your teen’s friends, you want to monitor their relationships more closely, while trying hard not to be a controlling parent. Offer your home as the “hang out” house where kids can come and watch a movie, have a video game tournament, etc . In your home, you will get to know this friend better and see first-hand how he acts with others.
Forbidding a Friendship
Let’s face it, many teens want nothing more than to make their parents angry. It is their job at this developmental stage to test the waters to see how far they can get. Forbidding the friendship may even increase their desire to spend more time with that person. When parents have told me they had told their son or daughter to “just stay away from that kid”, I cringed. This strategy does not solve the problem. If there is something about that friend that draws your child to her, she will find that in another friend and will keep repeating the pattern until she learns the results are negative.
There will always be people in your child’s life that will make things more difficult, whether it be a friend, coworker, boss, client, etc. Your teen needs to start to learn how to handle difficult situations rather than avoiding them.
What to Do
– Be available to talk, so your teen can see you as someone who he can look to for help when he doesn’t know what to do. Maybe he has been struggling with the friendship as well.
– Listen. Your teen may be telling you that he is also concerned about what he is doing or how he is acting with this new friend and doesn’t know what to do.
– Be specific about what you don’t like about the friend and give reasons why.
– Tell your teen what changes you’ve noticed in his behavior since he began hanging out with this friend. This may help him make a connection between his negative behavior and the new friendship.
– Help your teen find more appropriate friends by signing up for an enjoyable activity, club, sport, etc. where his peers have similar interests.
– Wait patiently. Often your teen’s best judgment will help him make the right choice for himself.