“Friends will start playing an important role in your teenager’s life. And our teenagers would be more prone to listen to their friend’s advice than they would ours.” ~ Thabitha David
Can you close your eyes and think of memories that you shared with your friends? You most likely will be thinking of friends from your teenage onwards.
Teenage is a phase when social circle’s are more important in one’s life.
The best friends with whom I still have contact are the those who have been with me from my teenage years.
The fun we had together. The small fights and arguments. The laughing it off and patching up later. All are part of the memories I carry with me till date.
It is not only that… I also look back and see how many of my decisions of my life were based on advices given by my friends.
Decisions such as the courses to take, the college to choose. Some of my dress and fashion sense that I carry and much more.
And many times, it is my own talent that I had were highlighted by my friends back to me. And made me to take notice.
Having friends is important. It makes our life a lot meaningful.
Why would it be any different?
You have been through your teen years. You know the things you have done. And the things you have not done.
You know how important your friends where to you. And how what they said made more sense than what your parents did.
You also know that they played a major part in your life. And did it influence the course of your life for good or for bad.
There is no reason to believe that your teenager would be any different.
Friends will start playing an important role in their life. And our teenagers would be more prone to listen to their friend’s advice than they would ours.
It is part of growing up and becoming an independent person.
As a wise parent it is better to acknowledge this than fight it. And learn how to influence your teenager in a way that they choose the right friends for themselves.
Main types of friends and their influence on your teenager
Friends can influence your teenager’s life in two possible ways; the first one is, friends can influence your teenager to have a better life which we can say good friends.
The second one, are friends that can influence your teenager to do bad things which we can say bad friends.
Colloquially we tend to brand these friends as “Good friends” and “Bad Friends”. And we basically do this based on the influence we feel they have one our teenager.
Influence of A Good Friend / Healthy Relationship
- Will help your teenager improve and grow
- Have a positive outlook to life
- Have hope and aspirations
- Brings a sense of stability in your teen’s life
- Brings about happiness and contentment.
Influence of A Bad Friend / Toxic Friend / Unhealthy relationship
- Is a deterrent to your teen’s growth and progress.
- Brings about a negative or pessimistic outlook to life.
- Makes your teen feel vulnerable, anxious, and walking on eggshell feeling.
- Brings on stress that manifests as anger, irritation, and depression in your teenager.
- Leads to bad habits or substance abuse. And shunning away from responsibilities.
For sure, you do not want your teenager to be with toxic people or get influenced by them.
As a parent, your guidance is important in every aspect of your teenager’s life even in their social life.
But remember, you cannot stop your teen in socializing. But you can only guide, influence them and educate them to make sure that they will be choosing the right friend.
Teach your teen on the traits of a Good friend. So that your teen can spot one when they meet one.
Right friend is some that:
- Has good influence on your teenager
- Goal oriented
- Free from bad habits such as cigarette and alcohol
- Positive thinker
- Good on academics and extra-curricular activities
- Has some good manners
- Nice to your teenager
- Support your teenager
- Cares about your teenager
- Helps your teenager
- Right attitude
In short, a good friend is someone who has, (what I call the 4Cs of friendship). Constancy, Candor, Courtesy and Council.
How to Educate Your Teenager to Choose the Right Friends
- Give them the basic needed education on friends and relationships.
- Talk to them of abuses and peer pressures. And teach them ow to spot them and prevent them.
- Show them examples of happenings in your friends, family, or neighbor’s life due to choose of friends.
- Teach them people they must stay away from and how to avoid.
- Teach your teen on way outs. Way outs that they can use to get out of tricky situation and come out of a toxic situation without affecting their social standing.
- Talk to them about their friends and get updates on their social circle so you can give then bite size advice during your conversations.
- Find the reason why your teen is hooked to a toxic friend and try and influence to eliminate the reason.
- Enroll your teen in activities they are interested in. So, they can have more exposure to find like minded friends.
- Nurture their good friends by involving them in some of your family activities. Talk highly and highlight the good qualities of your teen’s friends. (Do not compare)
- Beings an active listener and nonjudgmental when they approach you. Hear them out and empathize with them. Give them pointers. Do not insist or instruct.
- Make them always feel secure of your support and unconditional love.
- Nothing beats the good old “Being always available for them. The feeling that you will always be there for them sends out the courage they need to face life.
- Give your teen stories from your own life (Good or Bad)
- They watch you and your friends. So, choose your friends wisely.
- My Favorite one: In this day and age. This one seems to do the work for me. Send them WhatsApp on TED talks, or other videos of friendship. (I keep it as short videos that engages them).
All that I have written about based on my experience might something you already knew about. Or you got to know now.
This may sound trivial to you. You might even think my teen will already know it. And will not be interested to hear it from me.
Still as a parent based on my experience, I can tell you “No” information that you share with your teenager is trivial.
It either is a new information to your teen or it reinforces their existing information.
So, NEVER stop from sharing information with your teen.
All these small, small steps in the right direction builds up to form one healthy, happy, and wise adult.