Parents dilemma: Your teen's best friend is not the best companion
For the most part, my teen has made great choices when it comes to his choice of friends. They all seem to have common interests and a desire to stay out of trouble. I had recently noticed my son mentioning a new friend named Jay. He has talked about how Jay recently moved here from another state and that he seems cool. As time has gone by one, my son has been mentioning him more and more. At times it looks like Jay is all he talks about.
I have also noticed that my son has started to change his clothing, styles, hair, and even the responses I get when I ask him questions. I wouldn’t say that the reactions are disrespectful but more nonchalant as if he is telling me to relax all the time. As a teen parent, I realize that this is a time when he is trying to find himself and discover what he likes. I can’t help but feel a little concerned, though, that Jay is taking over my teen.
All of my fears recently came to fruition when I got a call from my son’s school. The principal informed me that my son had gotten detention for skipping a class. He explained that he and Jay had been missing from their math class and found them outside in the parking lot. I couldn’t believe that I heard this. I was so angry at him and found myself blaming his friend for this new behavior.
I went to pick my son up from detention and was prepared to pounce on him about how he can no longer hang out with Jay. The longer I sat there waiting, though, I began to remember what I had gone through as a teen when my parents demanded that I stopped doing something. I decided that this may not be the best approach.
When my son got into the car, he wouldn’t even make eye contact. After a few minutes of silence, I realized that he was not going to start the conversation.
I started by telling my son how disappointed I was in the choices that he had made. I asked him what he has been thinking. Tim began to tell me about how he hated his math class and that he and Jay decided that they would not go today. I calmly explained to my son that his behavior was unacceptable and that there would be consequences for his choices. I talked to him about my concerns about Jay and the behaviors I have noticed since he began hanging out with him. I voiced my concerns about his friend and the choices that they were making together.
Once we were home, I took my son’s phone and had already cleared the electronics from his room. I explained to him that he is smart and a good kid. I told him that I wanted him to think about his decision to skip class and how much it was influenced by his friend Jay. I asked him to think about the friends he wanted to have and his ability to make the right decisions when presented with bad choices. I hope that my son can see that he can make choices for himself that he knows are right despite being presented with poor choices from a friend.