During the teenage years kids' social lives begin to blossom and develop, often becoming the most important area of their lives.
The need for acceptance and belonging drives some young people into lives of moral compromise. Unfortunately, the desire to belong can sometimes be greater than the desire to live a life of non-compromise. Kids can view compromise as valuable if the end result is that their social group will accept them.
The priority of social development of adolescents is a good reason why parents should do whatever they can to get to know their teen's friends. Knowing your teen's friends will definitely provide insight into the morals and values that are influencing your son or daughter. In the process of getting to know your teen's friends, you will learn a lot about your own daughter or son as well.
Here are a few suggestions when it comes to getting to know your child's friends.
1. Never embarrass your kids in front of their friends. Doing so will lessen the likelihood that your kids will want to have their friends hang out when you are around.
2. Don't Act Like a Teenager. You're not one. Your kids know it. Their friends know it. Be friendly. Don't be overbearing when trying to get to know your child's friends. Be yourself.
3. Offer the Secret Ingredient for Friendship-Building. It's no secret that kids like to eat. And typically there's food around when we hang out with our friends. Take advantage of the food-friend connection by making sure you always have some "fun food" on hand when your kids bring their friends around.
4. Allow Kids to be "Kids." Sometimes teenagers just need to "let off a little steam." When they do, they might act a little weird at times. But as long as they're not doing anything illegal or immoral, just let them be. Don't constantly nag them about normal "kid" behaviors.
5. If space and resources allow, consider having a dedicated "kid-friendly" area in your home. It's a good idea to turn an unused room or space in your home into a "kid-friendly" area where your kids and their friends can hang out. This way, as a parent, you can pop in periodically, have some interaction with the group, and then pop back out again.