When your son is a teenager, friends can have a more profound influence on his life than you may realize. In fact, he may look at his friends as more of a role model than you or other adults. It’s a part of growing up, but it means your son needs to find good friends, which he may not do on his own.
While in the tender years of teen life, it’s important that as a parent, you’re actively involved in your teen son’s life and get to know his friends. Doing so can mean the difference between a trouble-ridden life and a strong foundational start that will set him up for a great future.
Of course, you can’t choose his friends. In fact, criticizing his friends in front of him may actually encourage him to grow closer to those people. However, there are certain things you can do to become closer acquainted, steer him in the right direction, and improve the situation as a whole.
Let Friends Come Over
There’s no better place to see an up-close picture of friendship than on your own turf. Tell your son he can hang out with his friends as long as they spend some time at your home first. That way, you can meet them, discuss their plans, and let them know that someone cares and will hold them accountable for their actions.
Meet the Parents
Make an effort to include the parents of your son’s friends in your activities or when you’re engaged in school functions. The more you get to know the parents , the more you’ll get a sense of his friends’ upbringing and what boundaries you’ll need to set.
Set Rules and Boundaries
Sometimes, teens want limits so they know they’re loved. When it comes to friendships, you can’t be too careful. Set rules and boundaries such as a curfew, designated places to avoid hanging out, requirements to check in, and other rules to keep his behavior in check. Don’t be afraid to simply tell your son he can’t spend time with a certain friend if you see it becoming a problem.
Make It About Family
Make sure your son knows that friends are welcome, but that family comes first. When you teach strong family values and practice what your preach, your son will know where his loyalties should lie, and he’ll be more likely to avoid trouble.
Talk About It
Don’t be afraid to confront the situation head on. It’s best to take a preventative approach, by discussing your expectations before he makes a friend that’s a bad influence. You can also chat after he’s made a friend you don’t like. Talk to him daily about what he’s doing with his friends and what activities they enjoy. Discussing the matter won’t mean he’ll never get into trouble, but he’ll be more likely to come to you if it happens so you can resolve the situation together.