Parents Worry About Daughter’s Fast Friends

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(The Vancouver Sun, December 2000)

Q: Our fourteen year old daughter has started hanging out with a group of teens my husband and I disapprove of. They are fast kids, not into scholastics, and we suspect are sexually experimenting. She used to be active in sports, hard-working, and career-oriented. Help

Teresa and Saleema: Sounds like you’ve raised a good kid, and you’re not alone in your concerns. Many parents are anxious about the people their teen is hanging out with. And rightfully so–adolescence is a time of developing a sense of self-identity and peers play a pivotal role in this. We also hear from teens how critical it is to them that their parents trust their judgement when it comes to choosing their friends. The good news is that a group of friends can’t erase the strong values and beliefs you have instilled in your daughter. Have you had an opportunity to discuss with her the exact concerns you have with this new group of friends? When you do, make sure she gets equal airtime to respond to your point of view. Find out if your assumptions about these people are accurate. If they are and your daughter is at risk, for example, of being pressured into promiscuous behavior, you have a right to take a stand. Perhaps it is also worthwhile to ask her why she has lost interest in her favorite activities. Has she outgrown them? Are there other sports she’d prefer? Keeping her busy with something she enjoys is an excellent idea. Bottom line, you, as a parent, have a right to protect your daughter from harmful influences. But beware of engaging in a power struggle with your daughter about her new friends, as it may make these people more attractive to her. And don’t forget to let her know all the ways you do trust her.