As parents we often struggle with being in our teens’ lives and balancing their need for freedom and autonomy. However, striking the balance, especially when it comes to knowing their friends, is a crucial part of the parent-teen contract. And, we should be considering a contract relationship because it is obligation to parent our teens, whether they like it or not, and we cannot do our jobs effectively without knowing who our teens are spending time with. It’s really that simple…putting it into practice maybe not so much.
Getting To Know Your Teen’s Friends
Knowing your teens’ friends is not an option. It is not over involvement or even helicopter parenting; it is meeting your responsibility as a parent. How you go about maintaining a relationship with your teens’ friends is probably going to be individual as your teens. No cookie cutter methods. If you know your child and you are looking for the right opening, getting to your teens’ friends can be as natural as getting to know your own friends.
Just Chillax—A Houseful Of Teenagers Doesn’t Have To Be Scary
There is no need for elaborate schemes or forcing your child to introduce every single one of their friends in a formal manner. Use your child’s own natural temperament as a tool to guide frequent and regular contact with their friends. Perhaps your daughter is naturally social so maybe you could ask her to invite her friends over for a backyard barbeque or girl’s night of makeovers or binge-watching their favorite show. This is not going to work for your bookish daughter or most sons, however. Make friend contacts according to your teen’s interests and there will be less chance of the “Really, whatever!” moments. When you have a houseful, make sure each teen knows what your ‘house rules’ are and then be prepared for them to test them. Should they push your boundaries, respond swiftly and make sure they know they are welcome to come back again as long as they agree to follow your rules. Additionally, make a point to interact with your teens’ friends in as many situations as possible.
Knowing Is Half The Battle
Raising teens today is hard enough without trying to deal with mystery friends. However, monitoring your teens’ friends is one of the simplest ways to spot potential danger early. When teens more from normal teen angst to more serious issues like drugs or alcohol, one of the earliest changes is a change in their crowd. It’s not foolproof of course because your teens can be involved with those things without changing friends. But, sudden changes in their circle should be an immediate red flag.
Should you suspect your teen or any of their friends are involved with substance abuse or other risky behaviors it is also your responsibility to notify parents and the authorities depending on the severity of the issue. If it is your child, the natural evolution of your responsibility as a parent is to seek help with your teen’s issues. The earlier you respond to troubled teen behavior the less likely it will morph into something from which they may not recover.