Doubts generally appear when parents notice changes in their teen. Parents start worrying that their teen's friendships, new or old, are a bad influence on their teen: “my child isn't the same. I don't recognize them anymore. Their friends don't seem to have the same values I taught my child. Everything was going fine at home before they became friends”.
The Importance of Friendship During Teenage Years
To become an adult, teenagers sometimes need to separate themselves a bit from their families. It's also pretty common for parents to feel powerless or suspicious during this time of separation. Since teens want to feel like they belong, and since the family doesn't fill that role anymore, their friends take a central role in their lives. This means that they can feel threatened when parents criticize or insult their friends. Teens also have a hard time if they are prevented from seeing those friends.
My Teen has Changed Because of Their New Friends; What Can I do?
- Show interest in their new friends.
- Tell them about your worries and talk about how you've seen certain changes in your teen's attitude, but without attacking their friends.
- Ask your teen if they want to invite their friends over.
- Ask them about what they like in these new friendships.
- Recognize the importance of their friends, all while talking to them about what's worrying you.
- Set limits with your teen about what is and isn't acceptable: “I've noticed that you and your friends accept this kind of behaviour, but we can't have that at home. What do you think about it?” (for example: lack of respect, insults, yelling, etc.).
- Trust your teen. A parent's greatest strength is probably the ability to trust their teen's ability to make the right choice, and especially, to set limits when needed. That way, a teen can feel like their parents trust their judgment and their abilities, which has a considerable impact on their assertiveness and feelings of self-control.