Through the years I have worked with many families where friendships are a hot topic. Parents see behaviors in their child’s friends that worry them. They want to keep their kids safe and they want their kids to make good choices. Parents worry that the company they keep will derail them in life and want their kids to have healthy friendships. Kids defend their friends, expressing that their friends are who they feel most connected with.
From parents I hear:
“They are hanging out with losers.”
“I don’t know why they can’t just hang out with different kids.”
“My kid would be doing so much better if it wasn’t for her friends!”
From kids I hear:
“Friends are the only ones who truly get me.”
“My friends are the only ones who really listen.”
“They are the only ones who accept me.”
“My parents don’t like my friends, but I am just like them so that means they don’t like me.”
Kids and teens often feel hurt when their parents don’t like their friends. Teenagers, especially, tend to identify strongly with their peer group and want to defend them to their parents. So, as a parent, what can you do if you feel that your child’s friends are not healthy for them when you want them to create healthy friendships?
I recommend parents try to come from a place of understanding first. Learn from your child what they like about the kids they are hanging out with. What do their friends contribute to their life? Your child wouldn’t be in the relationship unless it was meeting a need. If you can understand what your child values in the relationship, you will be in a better place to support. You will also be in a better place to discuss healthy relationships and behaviors with your child, which is so important in parenting.
Ultimately, as parents, we cannot control who they associate with but if we can open the dialogue to teach and guide them then they will learn to make healthy relationship choices for themselves. As we all know, even as adults, there are people who are not healthy for us to be close to. If we can guide our children into understanding healthy relationships when they are young it will help them throughout their lives!
Written By Dr. Steffanie Stecker
Dr. Steffanie Stecker a licensed psychologist and the owner and clinical director of Mountain Vista Psychology, PLLC.
In addition, she is a board certified neurotherapist (BCN E5669) and board certified in QEEG (QEEG-D). Less than 100 people world wide are board certified in QEEG, which indicates competency in reading QEEGs and choosing neurofeedback protocols. Dr. Stecker is passionate about brain based effective therapy and creating a safe relationship for her clients to create change. She loves what she gets to do each day!