Peer groups take center stage during adolescence as tweens and teens spend more time with friends. But what if one of those pals is a bad influence? Parents have more power than they realize, according to Overcash: “Teens want their parents’ approval, even though they might not act like it.” By avoiding negative judgments and harsh criticisms, parents open the door to an honest dialogue about a questionable friend. Ask teens and tweens what they think of this friend’s actions, why a certain friend is appealing, and whether a friend’s poor choices might affect their own.
Above all, parents should avoid an authoritarian “you can’t see him again, period,” approach. Instead, get to know your child’s friend, keep the lines of communication open. “As a parent, you may want to make your home a welcoming place for teens to hang out. This way you can observe what is going on,” says Sileo. Involving teens and tweens in decisions about friends paves the way for adolescents to become independent thinkers with relationship savvy.
Malia Jacobson is a freelance writer and mom of two.
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