Growing up, we befriended some people who made our lives difficult and toxic. We had to learn those lessons the hard way but as a parent, we always want to safeguard and protect our children from friendships and relationships that are unhealthy and perhaps abusive as well.
Oftentimes children are unaware of the distinction between a friend and a frenemy, and it is our responsibility to help them find the companionship that is nurturing and healthy. And as a parent of a teen daughter herself, we asked Devina Kaur, author of Too Fat, Too Loud, Too Ambitious and a motivational speaker to share some of the brilliant tips that she has utilized with her daughter that have helped them strengthen their bond and for her daughter to find the right companions in life.
1. Know Your Children & Their Friends
As a parent, we know our children like no other but as they grow up, they have aspects of life that we don’t know everything about. We have to learn to allow our children to have more emotional intelligence so that they can be empowered to make their own decisions. Take time to observe their behaviour and activities when they’re at home with you and your family. Observe if there’s any change in how they behave and act around their friends. You can organise sleepovers and invite their friends to spend the night in your home. This will allow you to care for your children and their friends, and look for signs of unhealthy or harmful friendships. If you find anything alarming, remember to open up when the time arises to discuss it with your children.
2. Create A Safe Space To Talk
Out of fear of judgement or fear of anger, it can happen that your children would be unwilling to talk with you about their lives and friendships with you but remember not to get discouraged by it. You can calmly start a conversation with your children and encourage them to open up about their feelings, especially how they feel around their friends. If they talk about their concerns and insecurities, you can offer your kind advice to them and make them feel safe. Refrain from scolding or starting an argument with them. When they find you open and non-judgemental, they’ll start seeking help from you more often and you’ll be constantly involved in their lives to help them with challenging situations. If they feel reluctant to talk to you, you can ask their cousins or other trusted family members to talk to them.
3. Allow Your Child To Be Decisive
As a parent, we can offer our advice to our kids but we can’t force our decisions on them. You can show your support, give them facts from a non-judgmental position, and tell them positive as well as negative things about their friends and the positivity they shall bring to each other’s lives. Give them the space to be more decisive about their lives and empower them with the importance of making the right decisions.
4. Encourage Individuality
As parents, we should encourage our children to be kind towards themselves and others while encouraging their individuality. In unhealthy friendships and relationships, we often undermine our individuality and start questioning our choices and preferences. An unhealthy relationship will affect your child’s personality and make them insecure and indecisive about themselves. If you feel that your child is showing signs of insecurity and under-confidence, it might be because of their friends. Discuss with your children the importance of mutual respect and trust in a relationship and encourage them to apply the same in their friendships.
Parents want nothing but the best for their children and getting them hurt or miserable affects them just the same. Since they can’t and shouldn’t impose their opinions on kids, parents can instead teach their children about safe, empowering, and healthy friendships from their own experiences. The signs that we notice in our children can be subtle and not alarming at first but to protect them and make them aware is our responsibility and the responsible thing to do. Safety starts at home and once we make them comfortable and safe with us, they’ll become better and more mindful about their friendships in the future.