My 15 year old son has always been a good kid. He’s a B student, good at sports and polite. Trouble is that he’s now hanging out with a group of boys that, I believe, are leading him astray. He no longer thinks it important to get good grades at school and is no longer interested in his sport and is no longer the polite boy I’ve gotten used to. How can I steer my son to a group of friends that support the values that I have for him and away from the friends that seem to enjoy making trouble. Concerned mum

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Being a parent of a teen these days is certainly hard. We want to keep them safe, teach them the right thing to do or not to do, the right people to hang out with. Teens though are notorious for risky and defiant behaviour. Part of finding out who they are is sometimes daring to have a friend that their parents won’t like. Of course if you say anything to this affect usually the friendship grows stronger and your teen grows defensive. So forbidding the friendship is sure to backfire. So what can you do? Get to know those kids.

Remember if you criticize or forbid, the friendship will strengthen, become sneaky and your teen will talk to you less. So the aim is to keep the lines of communication open. Ask your teen what they see in their friends, what they like, what they enjoy. Talk about friendship, talk about respectful friends, and values over the dinner table, or whilst driving in the car or washing up.

Invite these kids over, get to know them, and make your house the place that they come so. Have plenty of food, and invite them over to your place rather than drop him at theirs. Stick around so that they know you are there but don’t be right there. By making your home the place they hang out, you will learn more about what is going on.

Get to know the kids parents, by doing this you find out who shares the same parenting values and who doesn’t. Invite those who are similar over for a BBQ, a swim, a movie night etc. Take these same friends along on day activities, sports, trips. Your teen will have a friend to talk to and your teen will complain less! Lots of teens complain even if they are enjoying the day!!

Lastly if they are truly bad news, in trouble with the police, using drugs etc then do speak up. Talk about it don’t lecture him. Talk about consequences, bad decisions and offer to use yourself as a scapegoat, ‘Mum won’t let me....’ is a better excuse if they need to save face, offer to be the one to blame.

 

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