Your Child’s Friends
Do you know your child’s friends well enough to say they are a positive influence, that they do well in school and avoid risky behaviors, such as alcohol and other drug use? If not, today is an excellent time to start learning more about your child’s friends. One of the best ways is to offer your residence as their gathering place, the go-to place when they get together. While they are there, you can ask some questions, such as how are your grades? Kids will give an honest answer that may guide you to ask other questions.
I would ask questions about what they like to do in their free time? Ask questions about their family and how much influence their parents have on them. Asking questions can be a catalyst to more details regarding their friends.
For your home to be inviting, there must be a “space” where kids can gather and enjoy being together. There should be some snacks, music, and a yard where they can go outside and do some things. If all this seems too tricky, then encourage your young person to invite their friends so that you can meet them. If this is established as an expectation while young, kids are very willing to go along with it. Another way to meet friends is to attend various school events.
Your child doesn’t have to sit with you, but it gives you a chance to see them with others and then to ask some questions about those kids.
Why such a big deal about friends? According to the research of the Search Institute (https://www.search-institute.org), friends have a considerable influence over the resilience that your kids develop. Resilience is the Teflon coating of life that helps kids make good choices during those moments of choice and helps them get through difficult times more quickly.
I have been writing a series on a checklist for parents to review with their kids, and this, my twelfth entry, is a solid one that often parents don’t pay attention to monitoring. It takes time and effort to keep up with friends, but know that a friend with bad habits, low morals, poor grades is not the type of friend you want your child to be around. I like to encourage kids to “reach up a notch” in my book, Making Sense of Life: A Guidebook for Teens & Parents, available on Amazon or your favorite bookseller.
When kids reach up just a notch and choose the friend that is just a little better student, just a little more organized, or whatever they need.
They are then choosing to be better instead of reaching down a notch even as adults when we are around a negative person for some time, begin to pick up the same behavior.
I challenge our parents to review their kid’s friends regularly and establish your home as the “hang out” place by making it inviting. You will learn their friends quickly, which are a positive influence, which are questionable, and which are a negative influence. You’ll be glad you did.
Closely related to the topic of friends is Friendship-Making Skills. Some kids have a difficult time with this, read here Friendship-Making Skills – Dr. Rich Patterson (pattersonphd.com)
https://www.healthychildren.org has a post on Getting to Know Your Child’s Friends that makes great sense, Getting to Know Your Child’s Friends: Tips for Parents – HealthyChildren.org
Yours for Better Parenting,