How to Deal With Friends That are Bad for Your Teenager
As a parent of teenagers, you will have plenty of stress from the normal rigors of parenting. The teen years are known to be chaotic enough as it is. When you add in the outside influence of less-than-desirable friends, your worry goes through the roof. Flying off the handle and trying to force your will on them will only result in rebellion...what is a parent to do?
How can you deal with friends that are bad for your teenager? Here are five ideas to consider:
Get to Know Them
You may have a suspicion that a certain friend or set of friends may be bad for your child. Keep in mind that you can't determine that for certain unless you get to know them. Insist upon meeting any and all friends before your kid goes anywhere with them. Take some time to actually get to know your teenager's friends before assuming the worst.
Remember that teenagers are just bigger, older children. Younger children who are troubled or starved for attention will act out to get attention, and teenagers are the same. Try to find out about the friend's family and home life. Do they have parents who even notice what they do? Do they have parents at all?
Although your child is your first priority, keep in mind that a positive adult influence goes a long way with kids of all ages. Your teen's friends may need to experience some positive support from a parental figure if they are not getting it in their own family. Look for opportunities to make connections and perhaps you can turn those "bad" friends into better friends.
Make Your Home "The" Home
Why do teenagers want to always be going or hanging out elsewhere? Sometimes it could be because they can't stand to be at their own home. Make sure that your home is THE home to hang out at. Welcome your teen's friends and let them know that your home is a sanctuary for them. If your teen and their friends hang out at your home, you are better able to supervise what they are doing and you can use that positive parental influence.
In anticipation of your teen bringing friends to your home, keep food on hand that will feed those hollow-legged creatures. Set up a video game system in the living room. Invest in DVDs that teens would enjoy. Don't hover when they hang out, but don't hide away either.
Set Ground Rules
Like any good parent, be sure to set ground rules for your teenager and your home. Write out the rules and post them somewhere in your home if necessary. Go over the rules with your teen. Address issues such as getting homework done, curfews and checking in when away from home. Talk in depth with your teen about the rules and maybe ask him to help you work out the details. Show your kid respect as a way to teach them to respect you and others.
Set up rules for your home such as leaving bedroom doors open if kids hang out in your teen's bedroom. Just the idea the room is open will curb many issues. Time limits or curfews for texting or talking on the phone is important as well.
Sometimes a troubled kid may come from a home where there are too many rules or none at all. Offering firm guidelines of what is allowed and expected can help provide boundaries for your own kids as well as their friends who visit.
Never forget that your teenager is still a child in many ways, but most importantly, they are YOUR child. Love them and lead them by example. When they have friends who are a bad influence, insisting they stay away from the bad friends will only send your child straight to them. Reach out to those bad friends, and you might be surprised at the positive influence you can have on them.
In short, be part of the solution.