Who Are Your Children’s Friends?

August 20, 2020

Making a decision is not the hardest part, the hardest part is living with the decisions you have made. Taking your children in the right direction, so they will know you never stop caring is such an important part of parenting. Most parents wonder who their children hang around with. Some parents even choose friends for their children due to trust issues or targeted peer influence. Parents can encourage their children to be doctors but the child might choose to be a dancer when they grow up, moving in a completely different direction. Life does not always follow the patterns we wish to predetermine for it. Here are some things to think about in relation to your children’s friends.

The Importance of Knowing Your Children’s Friends

    • Get to understand our children better

We can tell a lot about a person by the company they keep, but bear in mind that judging a book by its cover is not advisable. Friendships take on new meaning and importance as your child grows. Close friendships involve intense feelings, learning how to trust, learning to criticise with honesty, and feeling secure outside of the family. Sometimes children share more things that are considered sensitive to parents with their close friends. With more friends and a wider range of interests and activities, your child may begin to spend less time at home and sharing things with their parents.

    • Strong friends’ influence 

Your children’s companions will affect them, emphatically and adversely. It is imperative to know their identity so you may enable your children to explore and observe who they make friends with and the decisions they have made. For kids and teens, it’s usually very important to their sense of belonging and acceptance that they adopt some of the beliefs and behaviours of their friendship group. Peer pressure can be subtle and kids may express it through dressing, talking or behaving in a way that their friends think is acceptable.

    • To protect our children

 With the increasing use and development of “Social Media”, something “unnatural” has intervened and changed the terms of reference and engagement rules for everyone. Most parents are lost in the new social cyber world of an online playground of social networks, chats, applications, SMS and texting, emails, chat rooms, blogs, etc.

Accordingly, you are no longer able to physically hear or see your children’s friends, interactions and behaviours and to be able to provide advice and guidance as to appropriate and acceptable behaviour. You are no longer able to sense dangers that await children as in the “real” world. This gives a greater reason as to why knowing your children has to be the utmost importance to parents. 

Things You Can Do to Know Your Children’s Friends

    • Being part of children’s daily activities

Some level of monitoring is not wrong as you are just being a caring parent. You may also meet their friends and their friends’ parents during school events or even Parent-Teacher Conferences. In this way, you will get a better chance to understand the other side of family relationships and characteristics, and the academic attitude of other children. Also, it will help you to develop relationships and, most importantly, trust. They even will help out by giving a heads up should there be anything wary that may evolve around your children. 

    • Communicate better with your children

Communication is the key for people to understand each other, especially with your children. You must engage with them by asking questions. Make sure it is a friendly conversation and know your barriers. We do not want to embarrass our children in front of their friends and make them feel uncomfortable and awkward. Be a parent who loves to participate, but avoid becoming a security guard.

    • Encourage activities that can help your children to gain friends such as activities below:
      • Encourage children to join school activities such as sports or music clubs
      • Invite our children’s friends to join their birthday party
      • Organise a playdate with other parents
      • Organise a family day
      • Hold an open house
      • Hold a group study 
      • Allow sleepovers

Keep in mind that each child and family is different so you may need to try different ways of putting these strategies in place. It may take some trial and error to figure out what works for your family. Talk to a friend, counsellor or support person if you need more help. Also, schools can assist through the existence of the Student Council, Prefects, and Sports Leaders who are ready to contribute and go that extra mile just like what we have in Matrix Global Schools.

Mr Azzmeer is a Music teacher and the Head of Pastoral at Matrix International School. He has a Bachelor Degree in Music Performance and was involved in the Kuala Lumpur International Jazz and Arts Festival in 2012 and 2014. For the past 10 years, he has taught music to a wide range of students in many parts of Malaysia.