As a parent, often times one of the hardest situations that you can encounter is when your teenager is choosing the wrong types of friends. Perhaps these friends like to hang out on the streets at all hours, participate in illegal activities, do drugs, drink alcohol, or participate in other negative activity. It may be very tempting to forbid your teen from seeing this group of people. However, forbidding their interaction will probably only increase your teen’s desire to be around these friends. Rather, there may be a few key tips that can help your teen choose better friends.
First off, as a parent, you should be well aware of who your teen is spending time with. If you do not know, then take the time to find out. You may be very surprised. Have a barbecue and invite your teen’s friends over. This will give you the opportunity to spend time with them and learn more about them. However, don’t plan on grilling the friend. This will most likely make him/her shut down and only anger your child more. By just spending time around the friend, you will be able to arrive at a pretty good idea of their character.
As hard as it may be, do not launch a full out attack against this friend. Sit your teen down and discuss the choice of friend. Do not waste time criticizing or making negative comments about this friend. This may personally offend your teen. Rather, spend time discussing what your teen sees in this friend that you may be missing. Try to discover what makes this friend so important to your teen.
It may be beneficial to focus on your teen’s behavior and choices during a conversation, rather than the choice of friends. Be sure to fully discuss what types of consequences, long and short term can occur. Emphasize that choices your teen is making now could affect the rest of their professional and personal life. Allow your teen to reflect on his or her choices and the potential of consequences.
The most important thing to do is to keep communication and conversations open with your teen. You do not want them to shut down or completely ignore you. Reinforce the love and value that your teen should feel in their home life. Be understanding in the fact that everyone makes mistakes and often life is about living and learning.
If you are still struggling with your teen about his or her behaviors or choice of friends, perhaps it is time to turn to professionals for help. A Christian boarding school employees dozens of staff members that are with your teen 24 hours a day. These staff members provide spontaneous interaction with the students that differs from a scheduled counseling session which could allow the teen to put up walls and defenses.
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