Sometimes it’s difficult to know if your kids are hanging around with, well, good kids. As children grow and change, so do their preferences. Your kids will reach out and spread their wings and when they do they’ll gravitate to new friends, too. It doesn’t mean they discard old friends, although this can happen, too. It just means that we click with some people more than we click with others.
So should you or should you not screen your kids’ friends? Maybe just get to know them.
Think: what kind of parent are you if you don’t know the people they’re hanging out with?
If you don’t know a child that your child wants to have over, then by all means, have her over! It’s a great way to get to know them. And while you should always let your child choose her own friends, be aware of her behavior with the new friend … she should be happy and energized by the friendship, not moody or negatively altered, says author Fred Frankel in the book Friends Forever: How Parents Can Help Their Kids Make and Keep Good Friends.
Other Guideposts for Friendships
• Remember: don’t judge a kid by what they look like
• Don’t attack a friend of your child’s if you don’t like him or her for some reason
• Don’t forbid friendships — it will make your child hide them from you
• Make your home friend friendly!
• Set limits if you’re not comfortable with a friend. Set a few rules about where and how they can interact. In other words, keep the sleepovers at YOUR house.
• If you find it necessary to discourage a friendship, be supportive. Fill your child’s time with other things as you work toward helping her gravitate toward other more compatible friends.
• Remember: If you don’t like one of your child’s friends, or group of friends, don’t let your dislike of them hinder your relationship with your child, says Michele Borba, author of Nobody Likes Me, Everybody Hates Me: The Top 25 Friendship Problems and How to Solve Them (Wiley, 2005).
• Don’t talk badly about anyone, ever, in front of your child. If you do, you will stop your child from talking to you and from having a free and open dialogue with you.