Have you ever met someone that you just know you are going to be friends with? I call those “Soul Friends” – meaning people that are meant to be in your life. They challenge me to be better, hold me accountable for my actions, tell me the truth when I need to hear it, and usually end up being lifelong confidants.

We tend to adapt to the people we are around.

With our kids, other factors are at play. Often the gravitational pull towards another teen isn’t about positivity. Peer pressure plays a huge part on the teen social scene.

Our teens are in their most vulnerable years. As they struggle with their identities it’s natural for them to look up to kids who seem powerful, or lose themselves in dating relationships or BFFs to the point you barely recognize your child anymore. And it’s all normal. That’s why we don’t often question the crews our kids run with, but we should.

Think back to your teen years. Who did you spend the most time with? What kind of impact did they have on your life?

One of my mentors in my early teen years would constantly tell me “show me your friends, and I’ll show you your future.” We tend to adapt to the people we are around.  

I met my best friend, Angie, the day before my 14th Birthday. She’s my go-to when life is challenging. She never fails to encourage and believe in me. I know that her friendship has shaped part of who I am. She makes me want to be more positive and full of joy.  

I challenge each of us to teach our kids to be intentional about who they spend their time with. I am talking about their inner circle, the people in their squad.

Let’s support our kids in spending the majority of their time with people who encourage them, support them, and most of all, help them move towards the best version of themselves.

And for those who don’t serve that purpose, we can teach them how to put up boundaries around unhealthy or just unedifying relationships, and teach them how to get away from destructive people.

Here are a few suggestions that show our teens how to look for the people they want to surround themselves with:

1. Be Intentional

It may be awkward, but most things worth doing feel a little uncomfortable at first. Scope out the students in the lunchroom, in class, or on your team that are kind to others, responsible, generous—whatever qualities you want to have in your own life—and ask them to sit with you, come over to study, or grab ice cream after school. Be intentional and take initiative to find the relationships that click on a deeper level than mere acquaintances.   

2. Create Healthy Boundaries

When we teach our kids how to set healthy boundaries at a young age, they will have a sense of strong self worth in their peer groups. Help your kids identify what is ok and not ok with them. Explore who is trustworthy and who can’t keep something personal private. Support them if they need to end a relationship that crosses the line.

For more specific tips on boundaries, let’s talk!  Schedule a Coaching Session

3. If It’s Destructive, Let It Go

If someone is disrespecting you, sharing personal information with the whole world, or talking about you behind your back, it’s time to cut it off! If it won’t cause more drama, you might consider telling them why you won’t be friends with them so they can learn the consequences of hurtful actions if it won’t. Delete their numbers, stop following and block them from social media if need be. It’s all too easy to go back to unhealthy relationships, especially if it’s a dating relationship, so make it as hard as you can for them to reach you, as well as for you to reach them.   

Now What?
3 Possible Action Steps:

1. Think through your child’s group of friends and identify the positive and negative influences. Then sit down with your child and draw three concentric circles. In the inner circle, write the names of your closest friends and family – those who make up your safe space. In the middle circle, write the names of people you spend time with but don’t share your darkest secrets. In the outer circle people, write the names of school friends, sports friends, people you hang with but don’t necessarily trust. Talk about staying vigilant of these boundaries to protect your heart and feelings.

2. Have an open and ongoing dialogue about intentionally creating healthy relationships. Assess in three months to see if your child’s relationships are healthier.

3. Check out “Life Code” by Dr. Phil for some really accessible and helpful boundary setting tips.

 

Let’s Talk:

What do you think about being involved in your child’s friends? Do you think it’s ok to help them choose their friends?

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