Friends mean the world to teenagers. Their social life, which they are connected to 24/7 with their mobile devices, can sometimes seem like the only thing they care about. As a parent, you need to do what you can to be connected to this friendship circle so that you can know what your teens are up to and what social influences are in their life. Below you’ll find the top tips for keeping track of your teen’s social life.
Keep conversations open and honest.
Talk to your teenager, if they will let you, about who they hang out with. Even if all you know is a name or two, you’ll still know more than many other parents. You can use this information to learn more on your own about these kids and whether or not they are a good influence on your teenager.
Invite friends into your home.
Can you invite your teen’s friends over for dinner? This can give you the chance to build a relationship with the friends and also to see for yourself what type of person they are. If the invitation is refused or your teen is not willing to have his friends in your home, you may be right to suspect a problem.
Be prepared for defiance.
If you notice that your teen has friendships that are not healthy, your first inclination may be to issue an outright ultimatum. Be cautious about this avenue, however. If you tell your teen, “You cannot hang out with so-and-so,” chances are they will balk and will find even more ways to hang out with the undesirable companion. Instead, if the friendship seems dangerous, take the time to talk to your teenager about your concerns.
If possible, give them some space afterwards and let them conclude on their own that the friendship is not a healthy one. If your teen is not in immediate danger from the friendship, you may consider giving them time and letting them learn from experience. A toxic friend will soon make life miserable for your teen, and this is a life lesson that is worth learning early. If there is danger, such as gang involvement, drug use, or bullying, then you may have to step in and set that ultimatum. Just be prepared for a battle if you do.
If you feel it’s necessary, get your child’s Facebook information and access to their cell phone, and check into these venues. See what kind of communication occurs between your teen and their friends. You may be surprised at the information you find out. If your child knows you will be checking, he may be more cautious about whom he chats with in these venues.
Be extremely cautious with this, however. If you snoop into your teen’s correspondence without them knowing and they find out about it, you run the risk of causing a serious rift in your relationship with your son or daughter. Teens value their privacy and individuality, and if you disrespect that need for space and privacy, it could take a very, very long time for you to repair your relationship with your teen. If you must snoop, consider simply doing it openly. And if you decide to do it in secret, make sure you’re absolutely certain that your teen won’t catch on.
Seek help when necessary.
Remember, in the end, you are still the parent, but friendships are one thing that can be very hard to control. Do what you can to help your teen make wise decisions, and be there for the child when friendships go south. Also, recognize your teen’s ability to make their own decisions, and allow them to learn some life lessons on their own. In this way, you can try to build a stronger relationship with your teen, all while keeping tabs on the influence other kids are having on him as well.
If your teen is surrounded by negative influences or if they possess an outright defiant personality, then perhaps it’s time for you to seek help from an outside source. Boarding schools are a great alternative to military-style schools, as certain boarding schools employ a more balanced approach to helping teens. At some boarding schools, students are rehabilitated through a time-tested and individualized program consisting of both discipline and reward. Students receive the love and guidance they need to transition from a troubled teen into an emotionally, intellectually, and spiritually healthy young adult.