Should You Screen Your Child’s Friends?

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While friendship are sacred, your are wise to know your kids' friends and to monitor their friendships from time to time to make sure all is well.

“Mom! Can Janie come over?”

And you’re like … why is she hanging around with Janie?!

But your daughter is changing, she’s reaching out and spreading her wings and as she does — your wonderful tween or teen — she’ll start gravitating to new friends, too. So should you or should you not screen her friends? It sounds awful at first, but think again: what kind of parent are you if you don’t realize the importance of your child’s friends in her life and what she’s learning from her relationships? If you don’t know a child that your child wants to have over, then by all means, have her over! It’s a great way to get to know them fast. And while you should always let your child choose her own friends, be aware of her behavior with the new friend … she should be happy and energized by the friendship, not moody or negatively altered, says author Fred Frankel in the book Friends Forever: How Parents Can Help Their Kids Make and Keep Good Friends.

Other Guideposts for Friendships

• Remember: don’t judge a kid by what they look like
• Don’t attack a friend of your child’s if you don’t like him or her for some reason
• Don’t forbid friendships — it will make your child hide them from you
• Make your home friend friendly!
• Set limits if you’re not comfortable with a friend. Set a few rules about where and how they can interact. In other words, keep the sleepovers at YOUR house.
• If you find it necessary to discourage a friendship, be supportive. Fill your child’s time with other things as you work toward helping her gravitate toward other more compatible friends.
• Remember: If you don’t like one of your child’s friends, or group of friends, don’t let your dislike of them hinder your relationship with your child, says Michele Borba, author of Nobody Likes Me, Everybody Hates Me: The Top 25 Friendship Problems and How to Solve Them (Wiley, 2005).
• Don’t talk badly about anyone, ever, in front of your child. If you do, you will stop your child from talking to you and from having a free and open dialogue with you.

Susan Swindell Day is the editor in chief of Nashville Parent and the mom of four amazing kids.

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