By: Gene Roehlkepartain, Guest Blogger
As our kids grow up, we recognize that friends play bigger and bigger roles in their lives. They become romantic partners; they help teens develop social skills, try new activities, and provide them with lots of support and encouragement. Through their friends, kids figure out a lot about themselves and who they are becoming. Yet, young people who have trouble forming positive friendship relationships can struggle in many areas of their life.
On the other hand, we worry that our kids’ friends aren’t always good influences. They may isolate, tease, or bully each other. They may also promote attitudes and behaviors that we don’t like. And they can put a lot of pressure on each other to be sexually active, to use alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs, and to engage in other risky behaviors.
Even though we can’t (and shouldn’t) control kids’ relationships, moms, dads, and other parenting adults actually have a lot of influence their kids’ friendship choices and the quality of those relationships, including romantic relationships. Through both your modeling and your actions, you can guide your teens toward the kinds of positive peer relationships that help them make better choices and grow up successfully.
Consider these tips to help you be a positive influence on your child.
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Eugene C. Roehlkepartain is Vice President of Research and Development at Search Institute, and creator of the 9 Parenting Strategies. Roehlkepartain is widely recognized as an expert in child, youth, and family development in community contexts. Particular areas of interest include family strengths, community supports for families and youth, spiritual development, service-learning, youth philanthropy, and linking youth development with financial literacy. Learn more about the 9 Parenting Strategies here.