What to do if I feel my teen is hanging out with the wrong crowd
By: Mariana S. Mata Ruiz
You are not expected to like all of your teen’s friends, but sometimes one or more can really rub you the wrong way. These kinds of situations can be a minefield if we are not careful. Remember your own teenage years and how important it was to feel like a part of a group and fit it. Your teen is going through the same. Right now they are trying to figure out who they are and what they like. The people they surround themselves with is a big part of this road of discovery.
Worrying about them is normal, since we know they are still developing, they don’t have the strongest decision-making skills, and peer pressure is everywhere. Be cautious of meddling, though, unless those friends are driving your teenager into trouble. Just because you don’t like them doesn’t mean they are a terrible influence. Finding the right balance between letting your kid make mistakes and ensuring their safety is crucial.
These are some of the things to look out for when approaching your teen with concerns about their friend group:
- Be careful with criticism. Of course your teen doesn’t want to know all the things you don’t like about their friends, they chose them for a reason. What will likely happen is that they will feel attacked themselves and you’ll be met with resistance.
- Reflect on why you are bothered by said friends. Are they really bad influences? If that’s not the case, not only will you not accomplish your goal, but you might end up driving your own teen away.
- Set boundaries. If your teen has been getting into trouble, their grades are dropping or they are engaging in any type of risky behavior, consequences need to come into place, and if they break the limits that you set, they have to be held accountable.
- Be concise. Don’t just say “I don’t like them” or “They are not good for you”. You can point out what behavior you disapprove of without it sounding like you are being too judgmental, you want this to be while you are having a conversation with your teen, and not as a lecture that they will surely want to avoid.
- Ask about them. It’s true that some parents have a hard time getting their teens to open up, but you can always try and ask them about your friends
- Try to get your teen to invite them to your home to hang out. This way, you’ll be able to better assess the situation and find out if there really is something to be concerned about.
- If you can, get to know their parents. It can be while picking up your child from their home, or if the opportunity arises, at a school event. By sharing what your expectations are as a parent, you can get a sense of whether or not you are on the same page about boundaries.
- Just have a talk. It doesn’t have to be about criticizing their friends or questioning them, you can bring up the subject of friendship, what makes a good friend and how to identify when someone is not. You can talk about your own friendships while growing up and your experiences with them to really get the point across.
Navigating your child’s adolescent years together can be tricky at times, but open communication, respect and clear boundaries can definitely make it easier for you both. It’s important to figure out if your teen is really getting into trouble, or if they are just wanting to be independent and experience things that are not necessarily out cup of tea. Whatever is the case, having ongoing conversations with your teen about growing up and the struggles it carries can make it so that they feel more comfortable to come to you if they ever do get in trouble or if they just have something they want to get off their chest.
Source: Parenting Teens and Tweens (2022, September 12). It’s Hard When You Don’t Like Your Teen’s Friends–Here’s How to Handle It. https://parentingteensandtweens.com/how-to-handle-when-i-dont-like-my-teens-friends/