Knowing the differences between a good friend and a bad one may come easy for us as adults. Teaching those differences to our kids however when they’re in those crucial years of trying times during middle school and high school may not be as easy. Friendships can also shift over time. With maturity also comes different expectations of friends. Expectations of what your child thinks he/she is deserving of.
There we go again with that underlying meaning of self-worth and what we think we’re deserving of when it comes to relationships. Self-worth has much to do with the friends your children choose, who they allow to be in their lives, and those friends who your kids think are deserving of their friendship.
The first step in any discussion you have with them is establishing what kind of person and friend your child really is. It’s a great conversation starter and it opens the line of communication because it gets them to really think about their own personality and character traits. Then ask them the simple question, “what kind of qualities do you look for in a friend?” Discuss the types of friends your son or daughter hangs out with. There are many different categories and levels of friendship. Are their friends respectful and trustworthy? Or, are they manipulative, cunning, or the gossip type where they go running to the next friend saying “did you hear…?” Then there are the part time, fair-weather friends - the ones who are only there for your child when no one else is around. The competitive or jealous friends are sadly the ones who always try to one up another friend. Mostly out of insecurity, some friends tend to judge, compare and tear down others out of the need to make themselves look better.
Having these conversations with your kids is not overstepping your boundaries at all as a parent. It’s being a good parent who takes interest in these trying times for them. They may not admit it, but they need us now more than ever. This could also be a rude awakening for your child and an opportune time for them to figure out the toxic friends, the ones who don’t do them any good and who don’t enhance their life in any way. If they can truly get to a place in their life where they understand the value in themselves, how worthy they are of healthy, trusting relationships, then they’re definitely on the right path. Saying goodbye to those toxic friendships will not only feel liberating for your kids, but it will make room for strong, positive connections that they’re so deserving of.