I Don't Like My Kid's Friends - Now What?!
Growing up we all know we had that one friend that our parents just DID NOT approve of! There was absolutely nothing we could do to convince our parents that this kid was harmless - or at least that's what we wanted our parents to think!
If we're honest with ourselves, the harder our parents pushed us to let go of this friend, the more we wanted to be friends with them. You probably don't even know why you acted like that and we may never know. So for now - let's just blame teen hormones!
So now the tables have turned and YOU'RE the parent! Oh...crap....!
You may have tried 93 million times to tell your child to leave 17-year-old Johnny with the sagging-so-low-you-can-see-his-knee-caps-jeans alone! Or to leave 13-year-old, Beyonce-lookin' Jane-with-the makeup-job-that-looks-better-than-yours (and you're pretty good at doing your makeup!) alone!
It seems like no matter what you say, they get upset and they sneak and hang around Johnny and Jane. Or perhaps you haven't even talked to your child about it yet, but you get an uneasy feeling when your child is with them. No matter the situation, here are a few tips to help you have that conversation!
Explore why you don't like them.
What is it about the situation that bugs you? Is it what they do when they are together? Is it how your child acts around them? Is it something the child said/says that throws you off? You don't want to just start bashing your child's friend if it's simply a matter of educating your child on making the best decisions.
We all know how easy it is to give into peer pressure and most times when we give in it happens without our knowledge. A simple conversation or reminder on subtle ways we give in to peer pressure or how to stand firm in the midst of peer pressure may suffice. If something the child has said throws you off, it may be worth exploring. Now I'm not asking you to become "Iyanla, Fix My Life" but a follow-up might at least be warranted if something keeps bugging you! WE (all adults) are the protectors of ALL future generations!
Don't come right out and say it!
WHAT?! Seida - you're a therapist! What happened to being open and honest? I know! I know! Hear me out! Remember when DJ Jazzy Jeff said, "Parents just don't understand!" Well yea... kids still feel that way! They need to be able to make their own decisions. As parents, we guide our children down their paths of self-discovery, courage and strength. How can these qualities be developed/enhanced if we don't allow them to think critically or to problem solve?
I'm not saying lie to your chilid - I'm just saying don't come out of the gate like an untamed, wild horse trampling whatever is in the way. That reaction will indefinitely push your child closer to the person you want to discuss. If you end up having a heated discussion with them, because your delivery (how you say what you say) was harsh - nine times out of ten your child will be itching to get to them. Why? There are many reasons, but the age old saying is true: we love forbidden fruit!
Teach the skills/qualities of a good friend!
I know you think I'm a little ridiculous at this point, but I can't tell you how times doing the opposite of what a kid expects you to do eases a situation. Just like we talked about earlier in the post, you must teach your child to discern for themselves the qualities they like/want in someone. They need these skills and they will learn them somewhere whether you teach them or society teaches them. They won't become pros at discerning this overnight, but simple questions can help you determine where your child is on their level of discernment. Kids pick up on a lot more than we give them credit for! This is also a good conversation starter.
Not what you expected? Well that's because parenting calls for some out of the box interventions to reach and raise strong, courageous children! Every child doesn't learn the same or have the same needs. Let's stop shaming each other as parents for different approaches and learn together. #endparentshaming