What To Do When You Don’t Like Your Child’s Friends: LDS Living Magazine Interview
Have you ever gotten bad vibes from one of your children’s friends? Maybe you felt like he/she was a negative influence or was causing your son or daughter to be unhappy. It can be hard to know when you as a parent should get involved and when it’s better to just let things be.
As a licensed therapist and a mother of four children, I am certainly familiar with this scenario, and I recently sat down with LDS Living Magazine to offer my views on it. Here are a few strategies for what to do when you don’t like your kids’ friends:
You’ll want to approach the situation differently depending upon your child’s age. If your son or daughter is relatively young (between 6-12), start by looking inward and asking yourself if you are particularly sensitive to something because of your own history and experiences. Could it be that you don’t like one of your child’s friends because of something in your past? Be sure also to ask your child questions about the friendship. You can learn a lot by saying something as simple as, “What do you like most about Josh?” If you then feel like there are legitimate concerns, first try to resolve them. If that doesn’t work or things are serious (such as sexual talk or dangerous behavior), communicate with the friend’s parent. Through all this, help your own child be open to those of differing faiths and backgrounds, and also coach him/her on how to handle difficulties in friendship. But as always, if you have reason to believe your child is in serious physical or emotional danger, it’s time to step in.
Now let’s say your child is a bit older; somewhere between 13-18. Watch for marked changes in mood or behavior that could indicate a problem. Also, resist the parental tendency to panic or overreact. Carefully talk to your teen son or daughter about your concerns, but avoid being patronizing. Keep those lines of communication open. And as is the case with younger children, only get other parents involved in very serious cases, such as those involving drugs or alcohol, sexual behavior, or depression and suicide. Except in these extreme cases, be sure to be giving your child ways to effectively handle challenges in friendships on his/her own and also to be a positive role model.
Overall, rely on your own intuition, spiritual promptings, and understanding of your individual child to guide you in each unique situation.
Read the full LDS Living article here.
Dynamic self & relationship expert Dr. Julie de Azevedo Hanks, LCSW loves to make a difference for women. She owns Wasatch Family Therapy and regularly contributes to KSL TV's Studio 5, and her advice has been featured nationally including Wall Street Journal, Parenting, Fox News, and others. Connect on Facebook & Twitter. Her books The Burnout Cure and The Assertiveness Guide are now available.