As children step into teenage, they begin to spread their wings and look beyond their families to make new friendships and relationships. They seek friendships among like-minded teens, with common interests. In their effort to become a part of the cool crowd, they, sometimes, dress and talk, accordingly, to earn acceptance by the group. This is all part of the developmental process that they are going through. However, things may go haywire if your teen becomes friends with a group of violent youths or delinquents. Although parents ought to be cautious about the influence of friends on their teens, but they also need to realize that they cannot hand pick friends for their teens. Therefore, it is important for them to be vigilant about the company of their kids and make them understand the harmful consequences of having bad company.
Discussion is better than criticism
Criticizing your teens’ friends and belittling them in front of your kid is not going to give you the desired results. Instead of realizing the mistake that they have made, your kid will get closer to these friends. After all, they are the people your teen has chosen to socialize with, hence, they are an important part of his/her life. Remember that the bond of friendship your teen shares with his/her friends makes him/her, protective towards them. Therefore, the reaction will be strong when you criticize their friends.
Talk about the behavior
Never make the mistake of targeting or criticizing the friends; rather, discuss their behavior with your teen. Tell them what you found disturbing and objectionable in their friends’ behavior. Give them the reason for your concern – you wouldn’t want to see them getting into trouble or being hurt because of their friends’ violent behavior. For instance, tell them you do not approve of their pot smoking habit or staying out late at night.
Be clear and firm
While conveying their disapproval, parents should be clear about the message, taking a firm approach. They should be clear about their concern, which is the welfare of their kids, without demonizing their friends. Tell your teens you do not approve of their friends’ habits and you are worried that this may affect them. For example, tell your kid, “I don’t approve of your friends drinking beer. I am worried you will also start drinking.”
Limits become necessary
If discussions fail to affect your kid’s behaviour, the only option left behind is to set limits on how much time they spend with their friends – or they can meet them at all. Of course, this will never set right with your teen. You will face a lot of resistance and defiance, but you have to be firm and strict, as per the need of the situation. Tell them, in absolute terms, that you will not allow your teen to meet with his/her friends, because of their illegal or unhealthy activities.