Tuesday, November 3, 2015

You Don't Like Your Child's Friends...What now?

As the mom of four grown children, I watched loads of friendships form, strengthen, stand the test of time, and others crash and burn.  Watching this process can be painful for a parent.  Our protective "mama bear" claws want to come out when we see our children hurting, feeling left out, or being surprised and disappointed with a friend.  At other times, our children bond with children that we don't really like.  We feel conflicted about how much we should interfere.  It has been my experience that a parent's role when it comes to friendships in your child's life, should be similar to a driving instructor.  And here is why...

A driving instructor has the responsibility of keep his student safe.  And a driving instructor is instructing from the passenger seat.  When someone is learning to drive, they are in the driver's seat and have to ultimately make decisions.  Similarly, when parents are analyzing their children's friendships, parents should focus on safety (the emotional and physical safety of your child) but friendships and their success or failure should be in the hands of your child.

In simple terms, in most cases, parents need to butt out.  Friendships are the subject matter of the people who are involved in them.  Give your child the freedom to choose his/her friends and learn from the success or failure of those friendships.  It is not healthy or appropriate for parents to micromanage your child's friendships. You are there to love and support your child.  You are there to listen to your child when he/she is looking for advice.  You are there to teach your child what to look for in a friend, and how to be a good friend.  If you get over involved in managing your child's friendships, your child will either resent your involvement or take it as a sign that you have no faith in his/her decision making abilities.  So take this from someone who has made all of these mistakes. Learn from my experience to back off and let your child navigate his/her way toward the skills of making and keeping good friends.

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