How much do you know about your teens’ friends? This question has been on my mind lately, especially with stories of bullying-related suicides, drug overdoses and accidental shootings. Friendships during the formative teen years play a huge part in your child’s development. It’s so important to be involved and mindful of their social circles. Make sure you are aware of these 5 things you need to know about your teens’ friends. Their influence can often become a huge factor that will even trump your parent status.
When I was a teenager, my friends had far more influence in my life than my parents did. Not because I couldn’t think for myself or gave into peer pressure, but simply because I spent more time with them. Think about it: your teens’ friends get your teen for 8 hours a day at school, during after school activities, on weekends when they’re hanging out and on the phone or through social networking in between. You get them for breakfast, dinner and the occasional family outing. It’s definitely not through lack of trying! Teens just prefer to spend time with their friends over their parents. It’s part of growing up.
A study done by the University of Minnesota revealed that teens often feel their best friends “understand exactly” how they feel. So, when it comes to molding your teen’s personality, and even their decision making, a friend holds a major power. Ensure your teen is surrounding themselves with people who are genuine and will support your teen with positivity and values that match theirs.
5 Things You Need to Know About Your Teens’ Friends
Know Their Plans for the Future
I’m not saying your teens’ friends have to have a 5-year plan all mapped out, but do they have goals? Are they driven? If they are wandering aimlessly through life, that bad habit may translate to your teen. Attitude can make a huge difference between success and failure. Your child’s peers wield an influence and can make a huge impact on your teen’s choices.
Know Their Habits
Do your teens’ friends have a habit of drinking? Most kids are lured into the “fun” aspect of partying. It’s important to know if the friends your teen is hanging around have penchant for recklessness, a passion for thrill-seeking, or deal with stress by using drugs. Often, if the opportunity presents itself, your teen is likely to try the same bad habit that will lead to major consequences.
Know Their Environment
If your teen hanging out with a friend who lives with a gun-owning parent? If so, is that gun properly secured? We’re not weighing in on that debate here, but it’s super important to know if your teen can access it! Are they spending time in an atmosphere that might be unsafe? Knowing where your teen is at is vital. Their circumstances and environment can play a part in what can influence your kid and their friends. It might be a collection of guns or rifles to hunt with, but you still need to be able to have talk about respect and safety – even if they are old enough to know better.
Know Their Parents
Getting to know fellow parents is always helpful. By opening a communication with your teen’s friends and their family, you open the lines to their values, habits, and environment. Working together to ensure a positive support system is built along with learning about others is broadening and cements a great relationship.
Know Your Teen’s Views of Their Friends
Often, you can tell a lot about your teen’s friends by how your child views them. If your teen is envious, it can lead to problems. It’s not uncommon for manipulation to rear up into situations, which can lead to trouble. Or, maybe, your teen views their friend as someone they want to influence. If that is the case, it’s a huge responsibility and can lead to dependency issues. Talk with your teen about their friendships and how to maintain balance. Just like you don’t want your teen bullied, you want to make sure you’re not raising a bully either.
Your teen might befriend people who make you wary or even full-on concerned. Getting to know them is a huge step in a positive direction. Try to welcome a relationship of communication and open-mindedness to ensure you get to know the real side of your teen’s friends. It will ensure your children are safe and surrounded by a support and influence that is helpful instead of hurtful.