When you don’t like your kids’ friends

As I reflect back on my childhood, I remember that every group of friends that I had impacted how well I did at academics during that time. If I befriended the back benchers, my behaviour and report card reflected that. if I befriended the star A student, my behaviour and report card reflected that…. And because of that personal experience, I do worry about the kind of friends that my child makes. there is always that one friend however who would make you uncomfortable. Maybe it is the dressing, the attitude, the gum chewing, the crazy hair style or something that you cannot quite put your finger on, but you loathe that your child is friends with this kid. So what do you do when you don’t like your kid’s friend?

Be honest: Think about it… do you not like this kid for a genuine reason or just that he/she talks too loud or is not polite?. Children will be friends with whomever they want, even if you don’t really approve. So unless you have a really sound reason for telling your child not to hang out with this kid, be silent with your own prejudices and mental blocks. If you have decided after reflection that it is not any frivolous reason why you don’t like this kid (because he chews too loud or something), and you think he might really be a bad influence on your child, you need to be clear in your head, what you think will happen if your child continues to be friends with this person.

Don’t say “Stop”: Kids will be very resistant to listen to you if you say “don’t hang out” with this friend. Instead, sit them down and talk to them about why you fear this child is a bad influence and how it is going to hurt your kid. If your child is reluctant to let go of the entire relationship, ask for less time to be spent with that kid. Do not bad mouth or criticize the friend as this will only strengthen the loyalties of your child! Also find out what is it about that friend that attracts your child. See if you can find another kid who can fulfil that need! (He loves WWE, just like me !)

Set conditions: If your child is not ready to let go of the relationship completely, set conditions. You both need to play in our house or NOT inside HIS house etc. which will give you a better control over the situation or minimize risky behaviour. Set rules of engagement, so to speak! Tell your child that he/she can hang out with that friend only under your conditions.

Sleeping with the enemy:  You may have some reservations about a kid, but there is a chance that you might be very mistaken in your impressions. So get to know that kid better. Invite him/her to your house and try to have a chat with him. Is that child really as bad an influence as you thought, or are you over reacting? The more information you gather, the more you may be able to influence your child as to WHY you think this friendship is a bad idea.

The fact of the matter is that you can only gently influence your children and appeal to their good senses to trust your instincts about their “friend”. However, be prepared for strong resistance – if you put your foot down, they will meet in stealth and you certainly don’t want that. So in line with “keep your friends close, keep your enemies closer”, keep a close watch on your child’s unsavoury friend, watch out for any warning signs, talk to them about your fears and hope for the best!

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