Teenagers are constantly complaining that their parents don’t accept the fact that they are simply growing up. Teens might think their parents need to “just get over it” and stop trying to control their lives or who they associate with. But what is a parent to do when their child is hanging around a certain friend or group of people who are not the best influence? Well, to understand the solution, or ways to talk it out, you must first understand what your son or daughter is feeling.
A lot of what I write about is inspired by real conflicts I see around me. There is a relative in my family whom I am very close with. We are about the same age and have been like sisters since day one. She was very close with her mother and was like her right hand. They did a lot of things together such as cooking, running errands, shopping, playing cards, etc. Unlike a lot of teens out there, she actually has a good relationship with her parents, especially her mom. When this relative reached high school she met plenty of new people, including one group of friends who were involved in the same activities she was. They hit it off immediately and became fast friends. A majority of our family, including her parents, did not approve of a certain friendship she had made because they felt the new best friend in her life was changing her. This relative gave me permission to use her as an example of this global parent to teen conflict. She allotted me to ask her some questions, which gave me more insight and thus understand the problem more. I went into Nancy Grace mode and conducted an amateur interview to get the scoop from my cousin (whose situation I spoke about above) who has encountered this conflict in her life.
(ME) As a parent, when your kids get hurt you feel the pain as well. Although kids are easily forgiving these days, parents are not because they simply want to protect their kids from things they know to harm them. Now that you understand this, has your viewpoint changed?
(C) No, because they need to know where I’m coming from.
(ME) Have past experiences given your parents a legitimate reason to dislike your friend/friends? This could be anything from a confrontation had or an unhealthy influence.
(C) Yes and no. They don’t really like her personality, or some stuff she does but they know I’d never do anything like that.
(ME) Do you feel though you have changed, and that is the reason your parents disapprove?
(C) I don’t think I’ve changed, but people around me think that I have. I don’t see it, but people say they see it when I am around her but I think that is just because we are so close.
(ME) Have you ever been peer pressured into something because of this person/group?
(C) I can honestly say no.
(ME) Do you feel this problem stems from them not accepting you growing up?
(C) Yes, mostly. I mean I think my parents believe the reason I sort of drifted and went on my own more is because of my best friend, but I think that would have happened anyway.
(ME) Has this friend caused a barrier in your relationship w your parents? If so, how? Is that the reason they dislike this friend/friends?
(C) I think it’s caused a barrier in our relationship because it is almost like they throw digs in about my best friend all the time. I understand I have good parents who want what is best for me but its hurts when they don’t accept a person I’m close with.
(ME) Where do you think these feelings of such attachment to your best friend come from that you are willing to let it disrupt your home life?
(C) What do you mean attachment? It is just because we are like sisters, and she is my best friend and important to me and I feel like I’m always “fighting” for my friends.
(ME) What could you do, and your parents do, to better your relationship?
(C) Well I mean they could get to know my friend better I guess. But I feel like I should avoid the topic of it so it doesn’t start problems.
I am no psychiatrist, but I strongly believe that this issue simply comes from the parents lack of control over something they feel will result badly for their child. I don’t think the issues are caused by her growing up, or just because of the friend. It is a mixture of both, I believe. I mean perhaps this new friend’s arrival coincided with the time my cousin decided she wanted to seek more independence. Who knows? But this is not about that anyway. This article is about trying to understand each other’s viewpoint and how to have a good personal relationship with your kids even if you don’t agree with every choice they make.
I also got my very own mother to give her input on the situation. I asked her why she did not like some of the people my sister and I have brought around, then she answered me with one mind blowing statement. It helped me to see both sides of the argument. “Look, it is not that we don’t like them. It is that you don’t like what happens to your kids when they’re involved with them. What I did not like was the situations you girls were put in with some of these people, I felt like you were being taken away from me and I couldn’t protect you anymore.” I think my mother speaks for all parents out there, using this divine sentence to explain the parent’s view in this situation.
In one of my cousin’s answers, she said that she felt like she had to avoid the topic of her friend to avoid problems. As we all know though, avoidance never really works out too well, because things just increasingly bottle up over time. My suggestion? Have a calm and rational discussion about your feelings about this friend. Let your child share his or her feelings and opinion as well. After you’ve put your two cents in, there is not much else you can do (only if the friend is not mentally or physically dangerous). If your child’s will to associate with this person or group has not changed, try accepting their decision and try these helpful tips.
– If this friend is so important to your teen, try getting to know the friend better. After all, they are spending a majority of time with your child.
– The parent should not throw insults or bring up the friends during a disagreement. The same goes for the child; they should not use the friends against their parents or to “punish” them.
– If things at home are worsening my suggestion is to seek outside help such a mediator so all in involved can understand what each party is feeling and why.
– Try to understand what your son or daughters is feeling and try to relate and calmly solve the problem.
– Try to remember that your parents often see things differently because of the experience they have acquired over the years so hear what they have to say first before you put your guard up.
In conclusion, I can guarantee that you as a parent are not always going to like the decisions your children make. Whether it is their fashion style, career choices, or the people of whom they associate with, you can bet you are always going to want to steer them in the right direction. However, after a certain age you have said all you can say, and weather your viewpoint is accurate or not, you just need to let your kids steer for themselves. Try talking things out with your teen if you are facing this same problem and please try to follow some of my tips above. Don’t let your child’s friends ruin your bond with them, it is far too important. Remember, loving someone also means accepting the choices they make and being there for them no matter what. Thank you.