If you find yourself in the position as a parent of not liking your child’s friends, it can be difficult to know what you should do. As a parent, it is your prerogative to not like your kid’s friends, but there are some things you should consider before you act. The following is a look at what to consider when you don’t like your kid’s friends:
1. The choice of your child’s friends is up to your child. When they are young, you have a lot of control over who they play with because you are the one setting up the play dates and driving them to them. However, once your child is school age, they are going to pick their own friends, and there is really not a lot you can do about it. So, rather than get yourself in a huff over it, extend some trust to your child and yourself that you taught them well enough to choose good friends.
2. Even though kids are influenced by their friends, the way they act still boils down in a large part to their core values and what they have been taught. So, if you are worried about your child being influenced negatively, remember that while a peer group can bring out the bad in your child, they rarely have the ability to drastically change their core values. You teach them these. So, if you do not want your child to gossip, then don’t do it in front of them, and teach them not to. If you want them to dress appropriately, teach them why, and set a good example.
3. When you tell child they can’t hang out with someone or be their friend, you basically seal the deal that they will be. This is part of being a kid, and so as a parent it is your job to make sure that you make wise decisions about how you restrict friendships. Instead of banning or restricting a person, ban or restrict a behavior or place. For example, you can let your child know that they can hang out late with friends, as long as it is at your house. Or, you can say that rated R movies are not acceptable, thus restricting a behavior rather than the person encouraging it.
4. Make sure your child has concrete examples and reasons why you do not like a specific friend of theirs. Even if you do not voice it outright, they can often sense that you do not like their friends. So, if you notice they are rude when around a specific friend, or that they criticize themselves or others more when around certain friends, or that they are more relaxed on their values, point it out. However, make it about them, not their friend, or they will cling to that friend. Also, point out unacceptable behaviors that their friend exhibits. For example, you can say, “She seems to criticize every girl that walks by.” Or, “He only seems to want to hang out with you when you are paying.” Etc.
5. Be honest with your kids. If you do not think the friendship will run its course quickly, and they seem like a bad influence, then give your child an honest, simple explanation of why you would prefer if they did not hang out. It might be that that friend is always encouraging them to break the rules you have set, etc.
6. When your child is older you can still exercise a little control over who they befriend by simply enrolling them in, and helping them participate in activities with people you would approve of, such as church groups.