It’s difficult not to feel heartbroken and even crushed when your child is experiencing friendship difficulties. Whether you’re parenting a pre-schooler or a teen (…. or both like I am) their hurt and vulnerability at any age translates to a heavy-hearted mum. Friendships play a crucial role in developing communication skills and self-esteem but sadly making and keeping friends doesn’t come easily to all.
I’m know I’m lucky that both my Mr14 and Mr16 have solid groups of friends. While there are occasional shifts and realignments within these groups, their friendship circles have been stable for a long time and this aspect of their life has been relatively stress free … for them, and that also means for me.
By the time your child hits teenage-dom there’s little control you can really have over their choice of friends and/or peer group. The move from primary to high school often involves meeting a range of new classmates, many of whom will be strangers to you and this may cause you to worry about their influence over your teen.
No matter the age of your child, and their level of independence, as parent, here are some things you may like to consider when it comes to their friendships …
- talk to them about their friends – ask about names, interests, families and what makes them tick. Your teen actually wants you to be interested. True.
- make their friends welcome at your place and encourage it – it’s easier to supervise kids and know what’s going on when they are under your roof
- make an effort to meet the parents of your teen’s friends – don’t be shy of calling to introduce yourself as “so-and-so’s” mum (or dad) and I guarantee in the majority of cases they’ll be pleased for the contact
- keep consistent with your teen and true to your family rules and values despite what their friends may or may not be permitted to do. It’s very likely that your teen may try to play this, but standing firm is the key to respect
- monitor from afar and step in if you feel your teen is being treated unfairly or seems to be uncomfortable with a friendship – support them to opt-out of the friendship if they would like to
Do you know and like your teen’s friends?