Almost all parents want their children to make friends. However, not every one of their children’s friends may fit the parental template of the ideal friend. What should parents do in such situations?
By Arun Sharma
“I would rather walk with a friend in the dark, than alone in the light.”
― Helen Keller
A child learns to make friends only after he has mastered certain social skills like sharing, empathy, initiating a conversation and so on. However, while the art of developing friendship comes easily to a child, choosing the right friend requires a certain level of intellectual maturity that children don’t possess. As a result, parents, sometimes take it upon themselves to judge whether they should allow their child to remain friends with a particular child or not. And, once parents label their child’s relationship with his friend as undesirable, they can’t resist the urge to interfere between them.
The problem with this approach is that most children don’t take their parents’ advice in the right spirit. They begin looking at their parents’ counsel as attempts to curb their independence and choice.
To prevent such feelings from arising in your child, let’s look at situations in your child’s friendships when you should intervene and when you shouldn’t do so.
When your child’s friend –
Friendship is very important for children, as it helps them grow up into emotionally healthy adults. And, when it comes to their role in their children's friendships, it is important for parents to know their children's peer group. They should never directly involve in their children's decisions in making friends. They can provide timely inputs from their perspective; however, they cannot force their views on their children regarding forming or maintaining friendships. They can play the role of mentors or coaches and help children develop the ability to establish and nurture friendships. They should also make sure their children do not become victims of peer pressure. Only a cordial and democratic relationship with their children can help parents in playing this role effectively.
- Rachna Sabu, Psychologist and Educator, Mumbai
An article, ‘9 Bad Influences on Your Child (or You)’ by Jennifer Bleyer in Real Simple quotes Timothy Verduin, Clinical Assistant Professor of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at the New York University School of Medicine. According to Timothy Verduin, “If you want kids who are resilient, you can’t isolate them from social pathogens. Think about the long view, that you’re training them to handle less-than-ideal people and solve their own problems.”
So, while you encourage your child to make friends, also teach him those skills that would help him make good choices. Not only would this prevent your interference, but would also allow your child to lead an independent social life.
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