Recently, a well known educator and speaker on parenting issues made a list of all the difficult questions parents had been asking him about their teens. He noticed that of all the issues that are bothering parents, the number one concern is what to do about bad friends. This question was mentioned more than twice as often as the next most common concern.
This educator then did a very interesting experiment. At the time he was working with a number of troubled teens. Many of these teens were estranged from their families. Some of them had resolved their difficulties and were already in the process of making peace with their parents.
He asked these teenagers, "What should I tell parents so that their children won't have the problems you are having?". He asked their advice on a number of issues that parents were finding difficult. In general, these teenagers had very good advice. However, when he asked them what to do about the number one issue that was troubling parents about their teens, none of them had anything to say.
He then asked these teens what it was that got them in trouble in the first place. The number one answer was bad friends.
So the number one issue that worries parents about their teens is bad friends. The number one cause of teens getting into trouble is bad friends. And the answer that these teens gave as to how to help parents deal with this issue was, "There is nothing parents can do."
One reason that parents can't separate their child from a bad friend is that the friend often has a stronger relationship. When a child is young, his parents are the major influence in his life. As children enter adolescence a change occurs. A natural part of growing up is breaking away from parents and making bonds with peers. This is normal. If the parent child bond is healthy, children will eventually renew their ties with their parents. This happens in the late teens or early twenties. But throughout most of adolescence, a normal child is closer to his friends than his family.
A second reason parents find it so difficult to separate their teens from bad friends is that to put it simply, you can't take away what you can't replace. Parents cannot replace their child's friends.
There is very little you can do to separate your child from bad friends and bad influences once he reaches his teenage years. However, there are a number of guidelines of what not to do. If you follow these few principles, it will help you ride out the storm and minimize the problems.
What You Can Do?
Do Not Attack Your Child's Friends
If your child is running in a bad crowd, your hold on him is loose or non-existent. The last thing you should do is to acquire an enemy. If you make a personal attack on your child's friend that is exactly what you are going to get, a sworn enemy. This enemy will now be out to get you and he very likely has more influence on your child than you.
It will not help to tell your child not to tell this friend. If you trash your child's friend, this person will know about it minutes to hours after the words leave your mouth. You will have made an enemy for life, at a time when you need every ally that you can get.
This does not mean you cannot criticize the behavior. It is fair and reasonable to tell your child that you object to the kinds of things his friend is doing. However, don't make it a personal attack. Once you do that, you place yourself in a battle that you are almost certain to lose.
As part of growing up, your child is trying to break away from you and forge his own path in life. This is normal. However, this need to break away only involves you. It does not involve other adults. This gives you an opportunity to indirectly influence your child.
You should try to find an adult or a responsible older teen that can foster a relationship with your child. It can be a member of your extended family or someone in your community. You can have this person keep contact with your child and try to direct him whenever possible.
Your child will be confiding in someone. It is much better if you can arrange that it is an adult or an older teen whose judgment you trust. Most teens just confide in their friends.
If your child is still young, you should take the opportunity to try to set up a relationship with someone older while you still have influence. I personally have set up several adults for each of my teenage children. These are people my children respect and, though I have not needed them yet, I know that I can rely on them if things ever turn sour.
Here is an important point to remember. If your child is confiding is a responsible adult, then you must be careful not to pressure this person to reveal what is being discussed. You have the right to know some general answers like if things are okay or if your child is going through a rough time. But do not press for information. You may be doing great harm to your child.
Get to Know Your Child's Friends
This is very bold advice, but it usually works well. You should get to know your child's friends personally. A number of good things may come out of this.
You may find out that the children with whom your child associates are really not as bad as your initial impression. The teen years are hard on everyone. All children have difficulty. It is very possible you might find that your child's friends are basically good kids who are going through tough times.
Here is how you can do it. Pick an event, like your child's birthday or the end of the school year or some other special occasion. Tell your child that you want to take him and four or five of his friends out to dinner to celebrate. Take them to a restaurant. If you are going to be embarrassed by being seen with them, take them somewhere away from your home. If you live in Brooklyn, take them to a restaurant in Queens. If you live on the Boston North Shore take them to a restaurant on the South Shore. You don't have to embarrass yourself, but you should be subtle about it. Your child shouldn't be able to figure out that the reason you are driving 20 miles away from your house is that you would rather be dead than be caught seen with his friends.
Here is what you will gain:
- You might find that you misjudged these children.
- You will be giving your child the messages that since they are his friends, you welcome them.
- You will be giving your child's friends the same message. Depending upon their own personal situation you may be the only adult in their lives that are treating them as people.
- You will be acquiring four or five allies who are in a very strong position to help you at a time when you need it most.
The Advantage of Having Your Child's Friends as Allies
The first thing that you need to know is that children have a very strong sense of right and wrong. They may be doing the wrong thing, but they are well aware of it.
Now, picture this scenario. Your child is out with his friends Saturday night doing what you would rather not know about. It is 11:30 and you get a call on the phone. Your child is having a great time and everyone is still here, can he stay out until 2 am? You remind your child that he has a 12:00 curfew and he has to be home. Your child says a few choice things to you and slams down the phone.
Now to whom does a teen complain when he is angry with his parents? His friends. So after he hangs up he goes to his friend and starts calling you every name in his somewhat extensive vocabulary. Let's say that this friend is someone you took out to dinner three weeks ago.
That person might just say to your child, "What's wrong with you? Your mother is okay. Look, you know she's right. Why are you giving her such an attitude?" This teen that you just took out to dinner may send your child home before any of the real trouble starts, all because you bought him dinner and treated him like a person.
Now what would have happened if you had trashed this person? Do you think he'd be so quick to take your side? That's the advantage of making your child's friends allies instead of enemies.
Make Your Troubled Teen Go In The Right Path!
Teenage is the age at which your child is addicted to new habits.
At this age, they feel themselves as a free bird, so most of the children don’t like to take suggestions from their parents or well-wishers.
Once this type of mentality is developed with in them, they don’t care for anyone and behaves in his own way or passion.
You can be able to observe several changes in the character and behavior of the troubled teens. Good and bad things both are present in the society, but as a troubled teen your child will certainly go for bad things and sometimes they don’t even care regarding which type of bad things they are doing.
Being a parent, it is the responsibility of you to take care of your child in the right way by making him to know what is good and what is bad.
Motivate them in the right way by showing some examples regarding which type of disadvantages and troubles will obtain in their future if they are addicted to the bad things.
Friends: Generally teenagers will be mostly dependent on their friends and they don’t even care for their parents in some aspects when they are with their friends. Good friends doesn’t not cause any trouble where as bad friends makes your teen to face lot of troubles.
Bad friends will create bad ideas in the mind of your teen and with that impact; he will do several mistakes in their teenage and becomes a troubled teen.
Parents must know which type of friends that your teen had and keep a watch on the characters and behaviors of the friends of your teen. If you come to know that they are bad friends who are making your child to get addicted to the bad things, immediately shift the home or college.
By shifting the place (home) or college, certain distance will be developed between those friends and your teen and he will be in safe mode without any behavioral changes.
In the new place, don’t make your troubled teen to stay alone or think alone for long period of time because several disturbances and thoughts will get in their mind and with this loneliness there are more chances to develop negative feelings on each and every aspect they see.
If once the negative feelings are developed in their mind, they don’t stay normal and behaves in the different way when compared to the other normal teens.
So, as a parent you have to take care of your teenage child in each and every aspect in order to make him to go in the right path.
If you don’t take care of your teen in the right time, there will be more chances to get addicted to the bad habits because teenage is the age which requires guidance and motivation.
Reclaiming Our Daughters: What Parenting a Pre-Teen Taught Me About Real Girls
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