By Marthe Teixeira
I am sure every parent can relate to that one friend your teen has who instantly makes you shudder when hearing he or she is coming over your house. Not liking your child’s friends (or better yet their parents) is never easy! It was much easier to control when your children were younger, using excuses like ” we are very busy” or pretending your child is sick. “Sorry no play dates today.” If only it were that easy now!
During elementary and middle school years, it’s easy to monitor friendships and get to know parents. No one can drive yet and you get to meet parents when you drop off/pick up the kids for parties and sleepovers. But as they hit the teen years and are able to drive themselves and control their own social calendar, parents become less of the gatekeeper. This can be a very scary place for most parents because teens are now in control of whom they choose to hang with – and they are less likely to divulge the juicy details of who their friends are and what’s really going on in their inner circle.
Before writing this article, I asked my mother if I had any friends she didn’t like because to my recollection she loved all of them. I was completely flabbergasted to find out she actually didn’t like a few of my friends! My mom was either very coy or I just didn’t catch her squatting outside my room with a glass between her ear and my bedroom door. I am sure if she told to me she didn’t like them (like she did with many of boyfriends), it would have made me want to hang out with them that much more.
It’s not unusual for parents to not like all of their kid’s friends. But as kids grow, they’ll befriend all kinds of people, so here are some things to keep in mind:
1. Open communication
Don’t pry! Instead create an open atmosphere for your teen. They need to figure out where they fit in with friends and peers. Invite them to come to you when they are overwhelmed or need advice. If you do not like your teen’s friend, try to discuss this with your the. Do NOT forbid them to hang out with a particular friend because the last thing you want is your teen going behind your back. Trust is key and helps build the relationship with your teen.
2. Never say . . .
“I told you so….” The last thing your teenager wants to hear is that mom or dad was right about their friend. Your teen is getting older and learning to make there own decisions on who to hang out with. If every time your teen tells you a story, you make it a life lesson or say, “I told you so,” then pretty soon they won’t tell you anything. You want your child to be able to come to you and confide not hide things from you.
3. Make your house a place your child/friends will want to hang out.
This can be tough because sometimes having extra kids in the house can be hectic! However, this is a great way to get to know the friends more. This way once you get to know them, if you really disapprove you have legitimate reasons.
4. Keep your ears open (be a fly on the wall) and don’t get caught.
Listen to the conversation your child is having with their friends. A smart way to do this is to walk in the room (no need for army crawling) with snacks and drinks (or replenish them) without saying anything that would call attention. Oh the things you will hear!
Marthe Teixeira is the founder/CEO of Stixs and Stones and a life coach for teen girls. She works with local schools, colleges and organizations, such as the Boys and Girls Club and Strong Women Strong Girls, and she coaches one-on one with clients. She currently has a weekly advice column to help parents of teenagers navigate the pitfalls and perils of teen life. Marthe is eager to affect positive change in the lives of teen girls, as she has personally experienced struggles and challenges as an adolescent girl.