You can’t choose your child’s friends… but you can help them make it easier for your kids to choose their friends wisely. My children are now at the age I was when I first started making friend choices that were a little outside of my personality. Until now, my son’s friends and my daughter’s friends have been extremely similar to my children in terms of interests and hobbies.
I remember walking to school with my best friend in seventh grade. She was dressed in camou pants and army boots. She had carrot orange hair that was spiked to the sky. I, on the other hand, was dressed in my cheerleading uniform and sneakers. She liked punk rock music, I liked Michael Jackson and pop rock. She was happy to make average grades. I busted my butt to earn a 4.0. We were so different, yet we got along great and treated each other with kindness and respect. My mom always wondered why we were such good friends, and I think she even worried a bit that my friend might influence me to her styles and interests. I give my mom a lot of credit for never meddling and trying to demand that we not be friends. Still, I think my mom still had some concerns.
I imagine the “what is my child doing hanging around with that kid” issue is a common challenge that all parents will face eventually.
I originally posted advice for You Can’t Choose Your Child’s Friends back in 2008. Parenting experts Chick Moorman and Thomas Haller sent me some advice while promoting their helpful Parent Talk System. You can sign up for great parenting advice from a legend in the field by visiting www.chickmoorman.com.
You Can’t Choose Your Child’s Friends – Parent Talk Advice Regarding Your Child’s Choice of Friends
“After fourth grade you lose the power to choose your children’s friends. Why? Because at this time in their life it is no longer possible to enforce your desires concerning this issue. If you can’t enforce a command it makes little sense to send it”.
“While you lose your ability to control your children’s choice of friends at that age, you do not lose your ability to influence who they choose as friends. If you accept the fact that your child is choosing her own friends, which she actually is, and assume that posture as you talk with her, you can have a positive impact on her thinking and her choices by using well constructed Parent Talk”.
“I like the way your friend Ramone shares appreciation” and “William always helps pick up the messes you guys make” is Parent Talk that points your child to positive character traits in his friends. These kinds of comments help him to appreciate that you see the good side as well as the other side of his friends.
“Tell me what you like about Clarissa” and “What strengths do you see in Lynda?” are examples of Parent Talk that will help you understand the positives your child sees in her friends. Use a loving and interested tone as you pose these questions. If you fail to comprehend the strengths she sees, she will be less likely to take a serious look at the weaknesses you see.
Other Parent Talk phrases that invite your child to think in regard to the friends they choose include…
“I wonder if Marie makes fun of you when you’re not present.”
“I’d be kind of worried about feeling pressured to drink if I was with Kyra.”
“Is it difficult for you to stick up for your other friends when Kevin starts to bully?”
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“Why do you think there is a difference in your study habits?”
For more info on why you can’t choose your child’s friends, visit www.chickmoorman.com