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You Can’t Pick Your Child’s Friends

You can’t pick your child’s friends. I’m sure most moms have experienced this at one time or another with at least one of their children – the disapproval of one or more of their children’s friends.


Every mom wants the best influence for her child and dreads the potential bad habits a kid can pick up. I know I dread the day when I will see my kids drawn to a friend that I won’t necessarily consider to be the best match.

What is even more difficult is that you can’t try to create chemistry between your child and another child that you feel would be a good friend. Kids are automatically drawn to certain people, and there is little possibility of redirecting them. I recall one mom telling me that she tried to promote a friendship with her son that she thought would be fruitful. She scheduled play dates, she would talk highly of the other child to her son, etc. No matter how hard she tried, he had no interest. She was disappointed because she really thought the other child was very nice, polite, and a caring person. But she soon realized, you can’t pick your child’s friends.

I remember being in middle school and my best friend would always walk to my house in the mornings so we could walk to the bus stop together. One day, she showed up in camouflage pants and army boots, and her bright reddish orange hair was gelled spiking straight up. could tell my conservative mom was terrified that I had made friends with this person.  We had a fun time together and she always treated me with kindness and respect (a rarity in middle school girl friend relationships).  But, as my mom got to know her better, she realized she was a good person. My mom learned that you can’t pick your child’s friends.

My sister’s teenage daughter has a friend that shows friend-like qualities only half of the time. Other times, she is competitive and insecure, and even tries to turn others against my niece. This friend would frequently exclude my niece, tease/name call, and even hit her. For years my sister has tried to tell her daughter this person is not a true friend. But, her daughter was reluctant to move on and continued the friendship. As a parent, she hated to see her daughter get mistreated by someone, but my sister never attempted to force an end to the relationship. Instead, she listened and gave suggestions on how to better handle situations that would arise. Recently my niece has moved on to other, healthier friendships.

Maybe fighting and disagreements among friends make us stronger and help us grow. Maybe it shows us that life is no bed of roses and we should expect others to, at one point or another, not be so kind. And, maybe it teaches us self confidence as we learn from each experience, and stand up for ourselves. On the other hand, without some adult support and guidance a “toxic” friendship could result in a child going down the wrong path. But as a parent, I guess the biggest lesson might be that we need to exercise caution with our interfering strategies, because they just might backfire and, as I’m learning, you can’t pick your child’s friends. Being there for our children when there are betrayals and disappointments seems to be most helpful, and strengthens the parent-child relationship.

You can’t pick your child’s friends, no matter how much you may want to.

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