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What to Do When You Don’t Like Your Children’s Friends

When your child is born, you vow to make their world a perfect little place. 

But what happens when they start to step outside your carefully sealed environment and create their own social circle? Here are some tips on dealing with the friends you may not approve of:

Personality Clashes

First of all, ask yourself why you don’t like a particular child. You don’t like all your partner’s friends, so it’s natural that you won’t like all your child’s pals either. As long as your child is behaving responsibly with the other child, swallow your reservations and let them decide who to befriend. You may even grow to like the child as you get to know them. My 18-year-old son has a friend who started calling to our house when he was about 5 or 6. I dreaded his visits, as he was into everything and his games seemed to involve dragging out every toy in the house. More than a decade later, however, he is a fine young man and I’m happy that he and my son are still friends.

Bad Manners

If your child has befriended another child who is rude to you or does not mind his manners in your house, don’t lose your cool. Just calmly say something like “We don’t use language like that in our house.” Should the problem continue or get worse, limit your child’s contact with the other child. Invite other children to the house when the other child is there, to give your child the opportunity to get to know someone new and to show them what playtime should be like.

Preaching

Avoid the urge to tell your child all the things you don’t like about their friends. If you do, you’re giving them the perfect reason to continue hanging out with them. Worse, if your child really likes the boy or girl, you could damage your relationship with your child by expressing your negative opinions. Make them aware of the values you uphold in your family, refuse to allow unacceptable behaviour in your home, and be strict about curfews. You need to encourage positive behaviour before criticising the negative behaviour of their friends.

Serious Issues

Talk to the school if you are seriously concerned about the behaviour of one of your child’s friends. For teenagers, you are limited in what you can do to discourage them from hanging around with another teenager outside of school and home. Often, the reason they are mixing in the “wrong circles” in the first place is part of a natural adolescent rebelliousness and desire to assert themselves. You will simply drive them away if you get angry and demand they change their friends.

As your child matures, they will become better at making decisions about what friends to make. The best way to help them make good ones is to ensure that you’re one of their friends too.

About the Author

A separated mother of three, juggling self-employment, two teenage boys, a tween girl, a needy dog, and ever-expanding grey roots.

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