The teenage years are a developmental period for teens. It is a time when they always have to have the last word. Angst and moodiness are more often than not the prominent emotions. During this period friends play a very important role for them and parents frequently find their child’s choice of friends something to worry about. As a parent what do you do? Do you step in or stand back? Your child’s friendships are a tough thing to navigate at any age, but the older your child gets, the more challenging it becomes as a parent.
When children are younger it is easy to keep them away from other children you didn’t like but as they grow older, what you say doesn’t matter as much. In fact some teenagers are dead against their parents if they say anything about their friends.
For teens who are beginning to understand how complex people are, their friends are the ones who truly understand them. They are the ones they can agree to disagree with, yet get along. “My friend may not be according to my parent’s expectations but he is the only one who understands me. My parents keep saying they want to understand me but when I try to explain they just push their opinions down my throat and won’t listen,” says an angry teenager.
The first thing you need to do as a parent is find out why you don’t like your child’s friend. If it’s a matter of conflicting personalities just ignore it as long as your child is behaving and acting responsibly. Also don’t tell your child what you don’t like about his friend, it is very unlikely he is going to stop meeting him just because you don’t like him. Instead be supportive and try to get to know the friend, you may just realise he is not as bad as he appears.
Staying close to your teenager is vital at this juncture. Of course it could be challenging as most teens want to spend a major part of their time with their friends, who they believe are their personal support group but you have to keep close. Studies show that teens who are close to their parents are less likely to take part in risky behaviours.
Show your teen how much you care by getting to know their friends. Try not to go off by first impressions or physical appearances. Really get to know their friends and remember their names. Do your best to make your home a place your teenager can get their friends to. Let your child feel comfortable having friends there and you will be able to be a part of what is going on (from a distance of course). Lastly the best way to influence your teen’s choices is to make sure you’re one of their friends too.