I don’t like my daughter’s friend. Should I tell her or forbid her from spending time with this friend?
What most parents do not realize is that their intelligent teens know when mom or dad disapproves of a friend. And while your daughter does care what you think, she will often ignore your feelings in pursuit of her independence. This leaves you wondering why your previously intelligent child would spend time with “that kid.”
During the teen years, most kids are searching for their identity by trying on different roles. Experimenting with appearance, spending time with a new peer group, and a continually altering attitude is part of the developmental process. When a parent does not like a newly found friend, the most important thing is to reflect upon your reasoning and do something about it.
Ask yourself if you have gotten to know the object of your angst. Have you daughter invite the friend over and engage in some light conversation. Discuss school, personal interests, and family history. Don’t hover but you can offer to rent a movie or make them lunch.
Also, encourage your daughter to spend time socializing at home with all of her friends, even the friends you do not like. When she is at someone else’s home, contact the other teen’s parents and ask about household rules, curfews, and supervision. These strategies will alleviate your anxieties and gain insight into how your daughter forms peer relationships.
Unfortunately, despite your best attempts, you may find that you truly don’t like the friend’s personality-get over it. It is acceptable to discuss qualities that offend, but don’t criticize your daughter’s choices. Negative comments will inadvertently insult her intelligence and drive her toward the intolerable companion. Further, she will attempt to justify the relationship resulting in a classic parent/teen showdown.
Now, it is possible that the friend is truly bad news. When your parental intuition senses that your daughter’s friend will influence her in a harmful and destructive manner; it is time to intervene. Highlight the behaviors which trouble you and ask your daughter how she will avoid making poor decisions. Assist your teen to develop decision making muscles and evade the influences of negative peer pressures.
Eventually your teenager will have a friend that leaves you scratching you head in disbelief. This parental rite of passage is just one bump on the road to earning your “parenting stripes”. As long as your teen is responsible and respectful, it is their right to choose who is worthy of their free time.
Lastly, these situations may rise to a level significant tension in your mother/daughter relationship. Don’t disengage from your teen; rather, foster communication with the assistance of a mental health professional. A good counselor can help present differing perspectives and encourage understanding.