Your Child's Toxic Friendships
by Mary Jo Rapini, MEd, LPC
Kids don't come with a manual and neither does parenting. For the most part, good communication gets you through the rough times and helps to divert disaster.
One dilemma that tends to stymie most parents centers around the friends your child chooses. Most of the time, kids make great choices, but sometimes the friends that choose your child are not great choices. And, for some unknown reason, your child cannot get away from these types of friends. These friends are what I refer to as "toxic friends." My two daughters both experienced situations with these types of friends; even though it was brief, it wasn't as brief as it could have been had I been more aware.
If you give a situation time, it will usually work itself out. With toxic friends, however, that is not always true -- so an intervention is necessary. Before you can intervene, you need to know what you are looking for. To you as a parent, the toxic friend may appear like the nice kid next door, yet, they say nasty things when no adult is around, and they make your child feel incompetent if they tell their parent.
|Here are a few more signs that your child may be involved with a toxic friend:|
|It is much better if you can prevent these relationships from forming rather than trying to break them up once they have bonded. To end these types of relationships, you need to have your child see the light and understand what is happening. Your child also needs to know they are supported by you, as these types of friends often have power over your child with other friends. It is always advised to work on changing the family dynamics so your child will become more and more difficult for his or her toxic friend to control.|
|Here are a few suggestions that may help: |
The tween/teenage years are relatively short, but the decisions made have dire consequences for your child. Engage with your child; know where they are, who their friends are, and who the parents of those friends are. Social networking has many advantages, but also many dangers. Toxic people think of toxic ways to use social networking. Self-esteem is fragile in the tween/teen years; one toxic relationship can destroy your child's self esteem for years to come.