Q: My son has become friends with kids I have not met before.

Although I think he has good judgment, I am uncomfortable with it. When I question him, he just tells me that they are nice. Any ideas on how I deal with this?

 

A: As children become older they become more independent. When they were in elementary school parents knew not only the kids their children played with, but also their families. As the children go through the school years they develop different friends. These friends are often from other schools. Many times the friends reflect the changes in your children’s personality as they mature. This can be scary for parents who are not sure if these new friends are a good influence.

Here are some things to help guide you through the transition:

  1. Trust your children. If they have been drawn to positive kids in the past, they will likely continue to be drawn to them.
  2. If the new friends appear to be different, take time to get to know them before forming opinions. Appearances are not always accurate reflections of someone’s true personality.
  3. Do not make negative comments about your children’s new friends. This will only solidify their friendship and isolate them from you.
  4. Get to know the new friend’s parents. When you drop them off at their house be sure to meet the parents in person.
  5. If your child drives, have the kids over to your house so you can get to know them.
  6. Remind your children of your family’s values and limits. Keep expectations consistent so that your children understand that even though friends may have different rules, theirs remain the same.

We will discuss what to do if your child is hanging out with a negative group and it is affecting their behavior in the next All About Parenting Column.