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What To Do When You Don’t Like Your Teenager’s Friends

Parenting an adolescent can be tough, especially when he or she starts bringing new friends home. With all the different friends your youngster is bound to make, it’s very likely you’re going to dislike at least one of them. Here’s what to do to keep this issue from becoming a big problem:

1. As long as your youngster isn’t getting into trouble with his friend, and your dislike is not based on anything concrete, let your youngster make his own choices about which friends he is going to hang-out with. Keep a close eye, but believe in your kid to make good decisions.

2. Ask yourself if what you don’t like about the friend really matters. Is it the way he dresses? Is it a lack of good manners? Is your youngster getting into trouble with this friend? Once you identify this, you will have a better idea of how to proceed.

3. Be a fly on the wall when the friend is over.  One of the best ways to listen to conversations your teen and her friends are having is to make snacks and walk in and out of the area replenishing the snacks and drinks without saying anything that would call attention to yourself.

4. Don’t turn everything into a life lesson. If you do this every time your adolescent tells you a story, soon he won’t tell you anything. Laugh with him. If you can’t do that, laugh at him. If something he says causes minor concern, wait and bring it up later under a different context.

5. Don't attack your youngster's friends. Nothing will start an argument faster than suggesting that her friends are not good enough. She really needs her friends at this stage in her life. Criticizing the friends is seen by adolescents as being the same as criticizing them.

6. Every time your youngster gets into trouble, it can’t be the fault of the other youngster 100% of the time. Remember that your youngster is not perfect. There may be times when he is the bad influence.

7. Few things drive an adolescent closer to her “problem friends” than a parent’s snap judgment. You may tell your adolescent you just don’t like her friends when you don’t really know them, and this can make her very angry, possibly driving her closer to the friend in order to try to prove you wrong. In many cases, if you try to tell your youngster who not to be friends with, you can bet you have just picked her new best friend, even if that friendship happens entirely behind your back. Adolescents have a tendency to dig in their heels when they're given an ultimatum, either out of loyalty to the friend or resentment at being told what to do.

8. If the friendship shows signs of falling apart, don’t point out how you were right all along. Your teen certainly doesn’t want to hear “I told you so” anymore than we as grown-ups want to hear that when we make mistakes.

9. If you decide that you do need to get involved in your child’s friendships, sit her down and give her clear concrete reasons. Focus on the impact the friendship is having on your adolescent, rather than spouting off a list of things you dislike about the other kid. Are her grades slipping? Has she given up other friendships? Have you caught her lying? Has she gotten into serious trouble? Discuss these concerns with a serious tone.

10. If you notice that your youngster is suddenly cussing or missing curfew since he started hanging out with a particular friend, focus on dealing with his behavior rather than disrespecting the friend. If you're consistent about disciplining your teen for any rules he and his friend break while the friend is visiting, he may get sick of being in trouble every time his friend comes over and eventually ditch him.

11. If your teenager meets a friend you like, encourage that relationship. Offer to take them to the movies or some other outing. Talk about how great it was and how it worked out so well for everybody (without exaggerating).

12. If you're discouraging a particular friendship, make it easier for your youngster to start a new one. Fill his calendar with activities he enjoys. It will give him a chance to meet new friends outside of school and the neighborhood.

13.  Instead of telling your adolescent everything you don’t like about his friends, make a point of talking to him about what friends should be. Take some time to teach your adolescent what traits to look for in a friend.  Be subtle though. Adolescents know when you are trying to drop hints and come at something from another angle.

14. Make sure your youngster knows your family rules and values. For example, "You can only go to parties if a parent is there to supervise." Be as clear and consistent as you can about what's acceptable and what's not.

15. Make your home somewhere teens want to hang out. The teens who are the real troublemakers don’t want to hang out anywhere near moms or dads. So they will tend to go away and find other peers who are equally less supervised.

16. Many moms and dads feel they need to manage their teenager’s choice of friends out of a sense that they're losing control, but that's not doing your children any favors in the long run. You want your kids to be able to make decisions on their own. 

17. Moms and dads often don't like their kid's friends without realizing that children choose friends for specific reasons. Ask yourself, “Why is my youngster attracted to this particular kid?" Is she lonely? Did her group just dump her? Is this person exciting to be around? Learn how to ask the right questions in a curious, nonjudgmental way. For example, "Help me understand what it is about Craig that you're drawn to."

18. Sometimes, children just "try on" friends for a while to see who fits, then move on. In some cases, they may choose friends with traits they feel they lack and admire. In other cases, they may choose friends with similar traits (e.g., teens with low self-esteem can be attracted to other teens with low self-esteem).

19. Take time to get to know your adolescent’s friends. Then, if you really do disapprove of them for legitimate reasons, you have a leg to stand on. Think about opening your home to them or driving them to outings. Your initial “accepting attitude” will probably go a long way in establishing your credibility if you have issues with your adolescent’s friends later.

20. The best judge of character is often other teens. Listen to what your child’s other friends have to say about the kid you don’t like.

21. With respect to romantic relationships, don't let your dislike of your teenage daughter’s boyfriend hinder your relationship with her. Make sure she knows you're always there for her, regardless of whom she's dating. 

1 comment:

Ann Sch said...

Once again, many thanks for a wonderful article. Sincerely, Nicholas (Nicho's) Mom

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