As your children grow, they expand their horizons, broadening their group of associates. What should you do if you don’t like your child’s friends or worse yet, if the other kid has questionable values? Read on for suggestions on how to deal with your child’s toxic friends.
Don’t Try to Control Your Teen’s Friends
If you attack your son’s friends, your strategy will probably backlash on you. Teens gravitate toward those who accept them and will defend their friends until their last breath. By reacting negatively, you achieve the opposite effect and instead, drive them closer together. They accept the challenge to prove you wrong. If you say something critical, your child will likely become defensive of his friend, further driving a wedge between you.
Limit Criticisms to Behaviors Instead of People
Your child will take any direct criticisms of individuals personally. By focusing on behaviors, you can express legitimate concerns about your child’s friends, using examples such as not drinking, law-abiding behavior and respect. This has nothing to do with the friend as a person and everything to do with potential behaviors that could hurt your child or cause him legal troubles.
Set Firm Boundaries
Instead of forbidding your child to spend time with specific friends, restrict the hours when he can go out of the house. For example, only let him go out on a weekend. If he violates your trust by going somewhere different than what he told you, then he should expect the related consequences.
Help Your Child Set His Own Boundaries
Sometimes, your teen will spend time with others who bully him or who just treat him meanly. He might react by becoming a joiner and a bully himself. He could feel a false sense of security simply from being part of the group. However, you can challenge his thinking by asking him why he lets others treat him so disrespectfully. Turn the tables around and ask him how he would feel if someone treated you or a much-loved family member that way so that he thinks about his friendship choices.
Expectations Regarding Legal Behavior
Your teen should know that you expect him to abide by the law. If he is spending time with others who are involved in illegal activities, then you have the responsibility to put your foot down. You can hold him accountable for his choices, even if he does decide to rebel. Restrict his privileges, and do not allow him to develop an “entitlement” mentality as if the world owes him something. Instead of assuming that he has permission to go out, he should earn that privilege.
Remain Alcohol- and Drug-Free – A Non-Negotiable Value
When it comes to alcohol and drug use, accept no excuses. Do not let your kid hang out with others who drink use drugs, including pot, or think that he will just experiment with these substances. You do not want to jeopardize his future — or his life — by tolerating that type of behavior.
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