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Lisa Falk Ellis
Noodle Expert Member

September 04, 2019

Maybe it’s because your child’s friend is a bad influence, or maybe it’s because he just rubs you the wrong way. Here’s how you can know if you’re on the right about your child’s friend.

I’ve always liked my children’s friends ... well, almost always.

Okay. The real truth is that over the years, there have been one or two kids who have set my parental instincts on edge. I have felt the need to intervene, or to at least monitor the situation very closely.

In these cases, it hasn’t been a difference in personalities or styles but rather, a deep mistrust of the friend's motivations, coupled with my concern that he could harm my son, or at least set him up to take the blame for something he didn’t do. Since my obedient child is sometimes drawn to other kids who don’t follow the rules, this can be a dangerous scenario, and one that demands I come up with some strategies for dealing with the issue effectively.

Navigating Difficult Terrain

To find out how best to navigate such a land mine, I recently turned to a family therapist and asked for some advice. She reminded me that it’s okay not to like everyone (yes, even a child), and she said that if the reason was based strictly on style differences, then I should sit back for now, and bite my tongue. But if I felt that my child was in danger from the friendship, either now or in the future, it was imperative that I stand my ground. She also pointed out that rather than exert my control to protect my child from peer pressure or negative influences, it was better for me to teach my child how to handle the situation himself, and give him the skills to make good decisions on his own.

Practice Ways to Manage the Situation

The family therapist offered some practical ways to set limits on a day-to-day basis, and support my child in a way that will protect him from getting swallowed up by a negative situation:

# As your child gets older, he will look for ways to assert himself and establish his independence.

One way of doing this is by forming new friendships with people he chooses. This broadening out of his social network can be a healthy part of adolescence. However, when you have concerns about the choices these friends make, or the values they hold, then it’s important to keep an eye on things and speak up if you feel uncomfortable.

# Establish strong lines of communication with your child.

Ask lots of questions to find out what is on your child’s mind and role play possible ways to handle different situations so he will feel confident and prepared if he needs to assert himself or establish his own limits.

# Clearly set your rules and boundaries.

Make sure your child knows what the consequences will be if he doesn’t follow them.

# Invite your child’s friend to your home.

That way, you'll have a chance to get to know him and see how your child acts in his presence.

# Come up with tangible examples of behaviors that concern you.

When you have concerns about a friend, share these points with your child so you can discuss the situation. Be sure to listen to his side, and talk about how to handle the issue in a positive way.

# Choose your battles.

While you may be just in expressing concern over your child’s behaviors or friendships that seem worrisome, leave the things that don’t matter alone. If you criticize too many of your child’s choices, you can end up antagonizing him undermining his confidence and making the situation worse.

# Pay attention to your child’s behavior.

Notice if he starts adopting new habits or acting differently, since these can be warning signs that something is amiss. This is important to address with your child directly. Also seek help from the school guidance counselor or from a behavioral health therapist if you are worried about your child’s mood or behavior.

# Designate time for family dinners, outings, and activities.

This provides valuable bonding time and offers an opportunity to reinforce your family’s values and rules in a positive setting, while also offering a safe opportunity for your child to confide in you.

# Remember that most bad things will pass.

Therefore, if you have concerns about your child’s friends, keep in mind that over time the bloom of such negative friendships often will eventually fade on their own.


The Ups and Downs of Friendships: When Parents Don't Like Their Child's Friends | (n.d.). Retrieved September 30, 2014, from About Our Kids

W, B. (n.d.). When You Don't Like Your Kid's Friends. Retrieved September 30, 2014, from WebMD

W, B. (n.d.). When You Don't Like Your Kid's Friends. Retrieved September 30, 2014, from WebMD

Child Development Institute. What to do When You Don’t Like Your Teenager’s Friends. Retrieved Sept. 30, 2014, from Child Development Institute