Children don’t come equipped with a manual, and neither does becoming a parent. For the most part, excellent communication gets you through hard times and helps to prevent disaster.
One dilemma that tends to get in the way of most parents centers around the friends your child gets involved with. Many times, kids make great choices, but sometimes the friend choices your daughter makes are not great. And, for some unknown reason, your daughter cannot get away from these types of friends. These friends are what I talk about as “toxic friends.” My two daughters have both been in situations with this type of friends; even though it was brief, it wasn’t as short as it may have been if I been more aware.
If you give a relationship time, it will usually play itself out. With toxic friends, though, that is not always true — so intervention is needed. Before you can step in, you need to know what you are getting into. To you as a caregiver, the toxic friend may appear like the friendly kid next door, yet, they say horrid things when no adult is around, and they make your child feel incompetent if they tell
Ten signs that your daughter may have a toxic friend
- If your daughter becomes obsessed with pleasing this friend, there is a good chance the power balance has shifted, and your daughter is being used.
- If your daughter’s friend treats her parent or any adult with disdain, pay attention. This is not a positive sign, but one that they have issues with authority.
- Your daughter’s new friend doesn’t abide by your daughter’s rules. For example, if you tell your daughter no communicating after 9 p.m. and this friend won’t stop calling or texting, saying rules are stupid or for little kids, this is not a friendship you want to nurture.
- Your daughter is teased or belittled in any way by this friend.
- The friend tries to get your daughter to act rude or disobedient at school.
- The friend wants to have secrets all the time.
- Your daughter’s friend is not polite in public. All children make mistakes, but if you notice this friend is a brat in general, can you imagine what’s going on at their house?
- Your daughter’s friend picks on “lesser people” or has a bully attitude.
- Your daughter’s new friend has angry outbursts.
- Your daughter begins acting out, swearing, and reacting belligerently or indignantly (unless someone is showing her that behavior at home).
It is much more helpful if you can stop these relationships from ever forming instead of trying to separate them up once they form a bond. To end these toxic relationships, you will have to make your daughter see the light and understand what is happening. Your daughter also needs to know she is supported by you, as these types of friends often have power over your daughter with other friends. It is always recommended to work on changing the family dynamics so your daughter will become increasingly difficult for her toxic friend to control.
Here are a few suggestions that may help:
- Start by inviting the toxic friend to your house for supper (even better – invite her parents too). Usually, you don’t need to do much more than this; the whole situation can become very clear to your daughter.
- Talk to your daughter about their toxic friend’s behavior only. Try not to attack her friend, but say what you see and why it is unappealing. Be honest and firm with your observations.
- Structure of your daughter’s life as much as possible. Your daughter will need an excuse at times and if they can say, “My parents will ground me forever or take my car away if I do that,” it helps her save face.
- Set limits. Keep your daughter’s curfew and follow through with consequences. If your daughter begins suffering for her toxic friend, she may wake up sooner rather than later, asking why she likes this person who gets them into trouble.
- Many times your daughter will choose to hang out with someone you don’t like as a form of rebellion. If anger, depression, or acting out starts to become issues, be proactive and start counseling for your daughter and for you. Toxic friends have the predilection to transform a formerly harmonious family into a chaotic one relatively quickly.
The tween/teenage years are very short-lived, but the decisions made have direct consequences for your child. Talk with your child; know where they are, who their associates are, and who the parents of those kids are. Social media has many advantages but also plenty of dangers. Toxic people come up with poisonous ways to utilize social media. Self-esteem is fragile in the tween and teen years; one toxic relationship can destroy your child’s self-esteem for years to come.