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 with them. These can be a catalyst to begin a conversation with your young person about cutting ties with some of 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 offered, 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 they are young, then 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? Because according to the research of the Search Institute (https://www.search-institute.org), friends have a considerable influence over the resilence 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 to 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 morales, poor grades is not the type of friend that 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 influenced 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 to establish your home as the “hang out” place by making it inviting. You will learn their friends quickly, which kids are a positive influence, which are questionable and which are a negative influence. You’ll be glad you did.
Yours for Better Parenting,