Feb. 15, 2021

Ask Margaret - Do I Get a Say On Who My Kids' Friends Are?

How much input should we have on our kids' choices of friends? What happens when we don't like the friends our kid is choosing?

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This week's listener question comes from Kristen in our Facebook group:

How much input should I have on my kids' choice of friends?

This is a hard one. Ceding control over our kids' lives is anxiety-producing, and one of the first ways we need to practice letting go is when our kids choose friends that - let's say - wouldn't have been our first choice for them.

So that's the bad news.

The good news is that we do still have a role to play in this situation. Just as with our own kids, when we address the behavior of our kids' friends, rather than their character, we'll get better results. We can (and should!) verbalize things like "I don't like when I see [insert friend's name]using bad language." That message will be heard by our child with a lot less defensiveness than if we say "That [insert friend's name]is such a bad kid!"

Here are other things you can consider doing if you're worried about the kinds of friends your kid is choosing:

  • Keep your child involved in a range of activities, so they're exposed to a wider potential friend group.
  • Have gatherings at your house so you can get a better sense of your child's friendship dynamics and how they're playing out.
  • Help your child develop "prospecting" by talking about behavior and consequences frequently.
  • Implement concrete consequences for a friend's inappropriate behavior. If your child knows she'll lose her phone for the day if her friend sends her an inappropriate text, she might be more motivate to set her own boundaries on that friend's behavior (or that friendship).

Our kids' friends can sometimes seem to have an outsized amount of influence over our kids. Hence our concern as parents. But if we are consistent with our own expectations and discipline, we can help our children navigate a range of friendships successfully.

Hear more about this topic in our episode "Kid Friend Breakups":


And if you have a question for Margaret or Amy you can submit them to: questions@whatfreshhellpodcast.com.

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