It Has To Do With Friends

Peer pressure and friends – it’s a combination that can be good or bad. I remember my best friend from those elementary grade years. We played together, sat by each other at school, rode the school bus, and had a great time at sleepovers. If one of us wanted to do something, so did the other. Fortunately we both grew up in families with similar values. Our parents knew eahappy-childrench other and saw that us kids had fun – but within their guidance and supervision.

Parents, get to know your kids’ friends. Make your house the inviting place for everyone to hang out. Then be visible and interact with the kids. Note how your own child responds to others. Is he a leader or is she a follower? Do the kids seems to get along well or are there troublemakers?  Talk to the other kids’ parents whenever you get a chance.

You can gently steer your child to friends you see as positive influences. Arrange play dates or have the whole family over for a BBQ. Enroll your child in clubs or activities with children who you think could be good friends. As children grow, parents have less and less influence over this part of their child’s life. Be cautious about pushing too hard on getting rid of friends you think are a bad influence. Kids will often rebel and do just the opposite of what you want.

That good friend from my early years – well, as we entered high school, our interests changed and so did our friendship. I found new friends and new experiences. Happily these friends never pressured me into doing anything I didn’t want to.

So parents, keep tabs on your kids’ friends. Know what is going on. It’s a key piece of peer pressure.

Donna Donald

Donna Donald

Donna Donald is a Human Sciences specialist for Iowa State University Extension and Outreach who has spent her career working with families across the lifespan. She believes families are defined by function as well as form. Donna entered parenthood as a stepmother to three daughters and loves being a grandmother of seven young adults.

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BFF

BFF – do you have one? I see kids of all ages using this notation. And at the time they really are sure it’s true. I had a best friend all through my grade school years. Then in high school we quickly drifted apart and I found new groups of friends. Some stayed with me through college. Three are still a part of my life. As an adult I’ve accumulated many more friends. Some I consider BFFs.

The point is – friends move in and out of our lives. Sometimes as parents we get upset over the friends our children choose. But unless something dangerous is going on, trust your child’s choice in friends. Your son or daughter will pick friends who have shared interests – for example sports or music. Maybe they will be in a club together. Then as interests change, the friends may change too.

As a parent it’s hard to watch this friendship dance. But if you are patient, most of the time the kids will handle things on their own. They learn the “give and take” of friendship and how to work out problems.

One thing you can do is encourage a wide network of friends and provide opportunities for kids to be together. Then stand back and watch the magic of BFFs unfold.

Does anyone want to share a friendship story?

Donna Donald

Donna Donald

Donna Donald is a Human Sciences specialist for Iowa State University Extension and Outreach who has spent her career working with families across the lifespan. She believes families are defined by function as well as form. Donna entered parenthood as a stepmother to three daughters and loves being a grandmother of seven young adults.

More Posts

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