We have all had that friend that when you brought them home your mom watched you guys a little more closely (or maybe you were that friend). Now that you have children of your own you don’t want them falling into the wrong crowd, however, you can’t pick and choose their friends for them. Dealing with your child’s friends can be more difficult than dealing with your own child in some ways. So what do you do?
They may not have rules in their home. Or maybe they have too many rules and they are trying to rebel. Either way, they are in your home and should obey your rules. If they are having a problem understanding or following the rules of your home, they should be taught the same way you would teach your child, from square one.
Some people have no manners and do not understand that there are other people in the world. Their kids were taught to mimic this behavior and it’s amplified because they don’t know any different. It is now your ‘privilege’ to show them that other people exist, and we treat others the way we want to be treated. If there is a rule that they just can’t seem to grasp sit down with them to address it.
This will be my second biggest point. Treat the friend with respect. You are trying to teach them to respect others, you must lead by example. Yes, they are children, but they still have a right to be treated like they deserve to be in this world. I have seen too often adults talking down to children, putting them down, destroying whatever confidence they had. This is NOT ok.
When you sit down with them to discuss the rules they are breaking, they will push back! They have not had authority they respect before so they are going to treat you differently than you are used to. Understand this is not about you. It is where they are in their life. It is sad, but it doesn’t mean that you should bow down to their attitude.
Respect should be the rule that is always honored on both sides. Sometimes you have to give them ‘time to practice’. – I said that as nicely as I could hehe!
Obviously, you can not discipline someone else’s child the same way you would yours. This really depends on the age of the children I think. You should talk to the friend, no matter the age, in an appropriate manner. Be stern and confident and lay down the rules that they will follow when they are in your home.
“In my home we treat each other with respect, meaning we tell the truth, we do not say bad words, and we always follow the golden rule.” Tell them specifics about what rules they broke and how they can do better next time.
When they are young you can tell this friend they are no longer welcome in your home until they straighten up, apologize, or learn to not break the rules. You would be surprised how quickly some children start obeying your rules. They are craving love, discipline, and structure. They don’t get that at their home. You will start seeing them at your home more and more and they act like perfect angels because love is exactly what they needed.
However you decide to handle them, you must be consistent. This is something they lack in their lives. Talk with your child about how their friend acts. Ask questions like, “how does it make you feel when so-and-so lies about what you are doing?” Teach your child that their friend acts this way because of something going on in their life. They should have compassion for this friend, but that doesn’t mean they have to hang out with them. If they don’t obey the rules, you will not allow them to come over anymore.
Teenagers are a bit different and it will depend on your child’s relationship with them. If teens can’t get away with something in one place, they will move to another place to do the same activity. You have to decide if this friend is actually going to harm your child, if they are just a phase and will be phased out soon, or if this friend just needs some extra love in their life and is really a good kid underneath whatever they are going through.
- If this friend is unsafe I think the best thing for your child is to discipline them instead of the friend. You can not forbid them to see this friend, but you can take their means of getting to them, especially if they are being unsafe. Talk to your teen. Have a real conversation with them as to why they think this person is not the best person to be around. When they say it they will start to see it. You can’t stop them completely, but you can slow it enough for your teen to figure it out.
- If this friend is just a phase, let them phase-out. Welcome them when they are around but let your child realize they are wrong for them and move on. Don’t put the friend down to your child because that will push them toward that friend, however, tell your child encouraging things about themselves that they may be struggling with and that is why they chose this friend in the first place. When my children have that type of friend I let them know that I don’t really care for them, but I still allow them to be friends.
- For the friends who need a little extra love, show them love and respect when they are in your home. Be strong when they push back. Speak to them the same way you would with your teen if they gave you that attitude. They will understand who is boss and begin to love and respect you like the mom they never had.
Take Care of Your Child First
My biggest point is to take care of your child first! Keep an eye on your child especially when they are around the friend. You can’t control everything (and please don’t try, it will end in resentment or worse). You can protect your child as much as possible and you should try your hardest. You raised your child to be confident and understand right and wrong. You have to trust that they will be uncomfortable and stand up for themselves at some point with this friend.
Talk to your child constantly. Stay in their lives! Don’t let them shut you out. Make it known to them that you will be there no matter what and you are always on their side. Teach them everything you can throughout the whole experience, including compassion for others, bravery, confidence, and protecting their heart, body, and spirit. Allow them to make mistakes. It’s better they do it now when you are there to catch them, than after they move out and have much further to fall.
If you have to,
release Mama Bear!
But only if you have to
Peace and Balance,