Get to Know Your Teen's Friends
One of the best ways that you can positively influence your child’s friendships is to stay involved. Mighty Mommy has 5 tips on how parents can get to know their child’s friends as the teen years begin to unfold.
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Tip #3: Attend School Events
Whenever possible, attend school and sporting events, including PTO/PTA meetings and fundraisers. Ask your child to introduce you to her friends. Spend a few moments asking her friends about their likes and dislikes. Show that you’re interested in getting to know them. This is also a great way to connect with their friends’ parents because it’s a common venue that is bringing everyone together.
Even if you’re extremely shy or have a difficult work schedule, make getting to these activities a priority. Once you break the ice with their friends or their friends' parents, you might be pleasantly surprised at how valuable these functions will become now and throughout their high school years.
Tip #4: Get to Know Their Friends' Parents
When your tweens or teens start to hang out with a whole new crowd, sometimes your best point of reference is to actually get to know their friends' parents. You don’t have to invite them over for dinner or try and ingratiate yourself in their inner social circle, but if you haven't met them, give them a call.
Even if it feels a bit awkward, simply call and introduce yourself as Jack’s mother and let his new friend's mom or dad know that you see that the boys have started hanging out together so you just wanted to say hello and exchange some basic information such as your phone number, email address, in addition to perhaps finding out what their expectations are regarding curfews, sleepovers, and entertainment. Share your rules and views. Invite the friends' parents to contact you with any questions or concerns regarding anything that crops up in regards to behavior or to clarify arrangements for their activities. Doing so will add to your impressions of your child's friends. It will also help you know where your child is, whom he is with, and how (or if) he is being supervised when he's not at home.
And if you meet resistance from a parent about exchanging this type of information, this can serve as a red flag. It can tell you that you need to pay extra attention to the new friendship.
Tip #5: Bond During Meals
Most kids enjoy a delicious snack or a hearty homecooked meal (even if they don't admit it). Getting to know your kid’s friends can sometimes be a little easier when you do so over a yummy treat. I happen to be one of those moms who loves to bake and create snacks and meals centered around the season.
Right now it’s apple-picking time in my home state of Rhode Island, so I’ve been making things like apple crisps, turnovers, and caramel-dipped apples. This is the perfect way to casually get to know your childrens' new friends or, in Mighty Mommy'd case, my son’s new football teammates. Nothing gets kids talking and like a few dozen cupcakes wolfed down after the big game.
Even better is when one of my kids has a friend over for dinner. Not only do they get to sit down and break bread with a family of 10, it gives all of us a chance to get to know this new person in our child's life. My own kids always a dinner invitation to their friends' houses—it’s a nice experience for everyone involved to see how other families share meals and do other things together.
How do you connect with your child’s friends? Share your thoughts in the comment section or post your ideas on the Mighty Mommy Facebook page. You can also connect with me on Twitter @MightyMommy or e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org. And please visit my family-friendly boards at Pinterest.com/MightyMommyQDT.
Friendships are an extremely important part of our kid’s lives, so taking the time to get to know your child’s new and old friends better will help bridge the gap into their social world. Have a great week and until next time---Happy Parenting!