Parenting Teens: When You Dislike Your Teen’s Friends

You know that dreadful feeling that you get when you dislike one of your teenager’s friends and you just don’t know what to do? I think that I just heard a collective response that was YES. Well, I am going to help you figure out how to handle those feelings and situations. 

Here are some suggestions:

1. If you simply don’t like the friend’s personality but there is no danger involved in the friendship then you just might want to let things go. You don’t like all of your spouse’s friends, right?

2. Don’t assume that the friend is a bad influence on your teen. Perhaps it is your teen who is the bad influence. I know that this is hard to imagine but I  have seen and heard about this kind of situation repeatedly. 

3. Ask your teen what she likes about this particular friend and why this friendship is important to her. The response may make a difference in terms of how you feel about the friend.

4. Remember to tread carefully when talking to your teenage son or daughter about their friends. Their friends are a very sensitive topic because when you insult their friends they feel like you are insulting them.

5. If you are concerned about the level of supervision in the friend’s home then be honest with your child and suggest that the friend spend time at your house. This week I heard from a mother who had concern about how to tell her daughter that she couldn’t carpool with a lovely friend’s parents. Apparently, both parents had problems with alcohol. I suggested that she be honest with her daughter about why she couldn’t carpool with her friend’s parents. She was honest and her daughter was appreciative. Both mother and daughter were not judging the friend. The mother was concerned instead about safety.

6. If you know for a fact that the friend is bad news and is putting your teen in harm’s way then you can and must put limits on the friendship. Your teen might secretly appreciate this. I am thinking of situations where the friend is very impulsive,engages in risky behavior, and is simply a source of negative energy in your teen’s life.