Excitement for the Family Life Forums is mounting, in fact we were so psyched over the reaction we got from the Forums last time we posted on Mamamia that we are diving in to talk about it again. But this time we are talking about friends. Not your friends though – the friends of your children… or the friends you may have had when you were a kid.
It’s every parent’s nightmare. Your child’s new BFF is actually someone you can’t stand. Of all the friends they could choose, they’ve chosen a classmate who regularly humiliates and teases them. (You know this, of course, because like any good parent you’ve been eavesdropping on their playdates while you pretend to put away the towels).
Or maybe the situation is worse. Perhaps your child has fallen in with a friend who is leading them astray. Swear words and a smart-alec attitude have become de rigour. Or maybe your child is being hauled into the principal’s office as their new friend’s accomplice.
So. What to do?
As a parent can you control whom your child becomes friends with?
The simple answer is no. But that doesn’t mean you can’t help steer your child to better choices.
Every parent of a primary school aged child knows the quickest way to strengthen a new friendship is to try and ban it. Tell your child you don’t like their new friend Sally or Tom and they’ll be on the defence faster than you can say “Please God don’t let them be in the same class next year.”
So if trying to break up the BFFs is unlikely to work, what can you do?
For starters, start having conversations with your children – from a really early age – about what good friendships look like. What they feel like. We teach our children many things but often a life skill as important as how to recognise a good friend isn’t one of them. Talk about loyalty, laughter, shared interests and respect. Talk about what good friends, true friends, don’t do: bully, humiliate, taunt or try to get you to be someone or something you’re not.