What to do if your child has questionable friends

Kids and Friends

GRAND RAPIDS, MICH. - The first thing you have to realize is that you can’t pick your child’s friends. If you criticize their friends, you will see them react quite strongly.

That’s because they’re developmentally bound to defend their chosen peer group. When kids enter adolescence, they employ a way of looking at the world in which their friends are more important than anybody else. You’ll often hear them say, “You just don’t understand.” And another part of that mindset is, “Nobody understands me but my friends.”

So if you criticize or attack their friends, you’re really just making the relationship stronger. And no matter how you feel about your child’s friends, this direct kind of attack is effective. In fact, there are kids who like the fact that their parents don’t approve of their friends.

Your goal as a parent is to keep your child protected and safe, your child’s goal is to be with people who like him.

When you don’t like your child’s friends:

  • Try to avoid repeated criticisms of their friends
  • Make clear statements about behavior 
  • Use structure 
  • Going out on Friday night is not a “right” 
  • Talk to them about mean friends 

When your child’s behavior changes:

Here’s the bottom line: kids are going to make mistakes and they’re going to make bad choices. The best we can do is guide them, set limits, project our view of what’s right and wrong in the world and hold them accountable.

From James Lehman The Total Transformation® Program, The Complete Guide to Consequences™, Getting Through To Your Child™, and Two Parents One Plan™

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