Do you like your teen’s friends?
By Stephanie Falcone 

This is a tough question and even tougher to answer. No parent wants their child to fall into the wrong crowd. But how do parents prevent that from happening? Is it preventable? Is it bad parenting? Do parents push children into these misbehaving groups?

Dr. Kenneth Rubin, a Professor at the University of Maryland and author of The Friendship Factor, says that even "Good kids, with good parents and good friends, aren’t immune to the temptation to associate with peers who are doing unacceptable things, or to the appeal of a crowd that seems to be exciting or even somewhat dangerous."

Young friendships are a large factor in the shaping of a child and molding them into the adult he or she will grow to be. Teenage friends have the ability to validate and support each other in ways parents cannot (or at least that’s what they think at that age!). As a parent, it is normal to be concerned with your child’s social life but there are a few underlying rules a parent must follow in regards to a child’s privacy. If you are having trouble with your teen’s choice of friends… keep reading! These five tips will keep you in check with the "rules" and guide you with your next move as a parent.

  • Keep an open mind. Clothing, hairstyles, music, and slang are very different now a days. Parents… just because the children may seem unusual compared to your child or even your OWN friends way back when, give them a chance. Like they always say, “Do not judge a book by its cover”. Values and morals are not worn on the outside.
  • Never forbid a friend. You know how that goes… Teenagers and people in general, strive for things that others bet against. Just as your motivation to succeed kicks in twice as hard when someone accuses you of failing, forbidding a friend will only make your teen want to hang out with them twice as much (maybe even behind your back!).
  • Never attack a friend. Now I don’t mean physically haha… well of course I mean that too, but mentally, with your words. As teenagers, the last thing a child wants to hear is you accusing THEIR friend of something. This is just a rule of life people tend to forget… if you don’t know about it, don’t act like you know about it. It won’t get you anywhere…
    • Advice: Talk to your child about what is bothering you about him or his friend. Do not go on assuming and accusing.
    • Welcome friends. Do not try to intimidate your teen’s friends. Welcome them with open arms, talk to them, and get to know them a little. This will give you a sense of who they are… and most times, leave you at ease with who your child is spending time with. You will gain their respect by showing them respect.
    • Set clear rules. These rules should be known by your child, of course, as well as your teen’s friends. To ensure this, reiterate your rules and expectations out loud when your teen’s friends come over/ pick up your child. The more friends who are familiar with your rules, the more likely it is for your teen and their friends to obey them. (They will have your rules in mind, being constantly reminded, and feel guilt if disobeyed).

"We shouldn’t! Your mom said no!"  Trust me, it works.