How Involved Should You Be in Your Middle Schoolers Friendships?

Updated on September 30, 2017
S.C. asks from New York, NY
7 answers

12 year old boy, good instincts & solid friendships. One elementary school friend ( in my opinion) is not a loyal friend. How do I guide without being intrusive?

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M.G.

answers from Portland on

I have learned to just listen, listen, listen. That's what the counsellor I saw (a few times) suggested. Let them figure it out on their own, and just be supportive.

Sometimes I don't agree with what they decide and then there's a bit of fall out - but that's life. They need to learn this stuff on their own.

The only thing I do say is - I talk about consequences. I remind them of what makes a good friend. I try to use examples as learning moments. We had a boy say some nasty remarks about my son one time - and we just said "Would I real friend say stuff like that? Is it true?" nope ... so then I remind them to focus on the kids who are good friends.

I nudge slightly too - I will suggest they do things with other buds, I encourage the more positive friendships. That's worked for us. I don't want to focus on the friend with the problems or drama - because we don't want to get tangled up in that. If they are busy with other pals, that helps.

There was a boy back when my son was about 11/12 who I felt was taking advantage of my son, who was a bit of a people pleaser at that age. I just didn't make it easy to have the boy over here. I wasn't obvious about it - and my son still got hurt a bit in the end, when he figured out this neighbor kid was using him for his rink, etc. We did talk about it afterwards, and I'm not into bashing other kids - we just said that it wasn't a good fit. That other friends were a better fit at this point in time.

My kids are now able to do this on their own - so this approach worked for us pretty well.

6 moms found this helpful
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A.D.

answers from Minneapolis on

You haven't given enough detail for us to really understand your concern about this friend. But if as you say your son has good instincts and solid friendships, I wouldn't say a word about the one less than loyal friend, unless your son initiates a conversation on the topic. Just listen when if and when he wants to talk. Maybe ask a few gentle questions about his feelings about whatever the situation is, and be supportive as he comes to his own conclusions. Trust that he will figure it out as that person shows their true colors. Or maybe that old friend is just going through a rough period and may mature into a very decent person. Don't facilitate burning bridges. I have to keep reminding myself that as a parent, I'm not privy to all the details on the ins and outs of my kids' peer relationships. Looking back over the years, sometimes I can now see that I've been wrong about certain people or situations so I think it's often better not to be overly involved

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E.B.

answers from Honolulu on

Not at all.

Unless the concern is that the friend is using drugs or stealing or shoplifting.

The focus must be on your own child. Concentrate on teaching your own child about what makes a good friend, how he can develop good qualities within himself, how to use good judgment, and how to be strong enough to say no when confronted with something he knows is wrong.

You simply can't manage all the friendships your child will have. The best thing is to create good characteristics in your own child, by teaching, demonstrating, and encouraging.

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H.M.

answers from Dallas on

I know it's hard when the start middle school with friends and fitting in. But just yesterday you said that he will get mad at you and curs at you. Not complete his assignments and only worried about his social life. Sounds to me like he does not have the good instincts that you are saying he does. If he's acting that way at home with you he may act the same way with his friends. Or picking the wrong ones to be around. Sounds to me like you need to be intrusive at this point.

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B.C.

answers from Norfolk on

Mostly you keep him busy with activities so you know who he's spending time with.
With teens especially having a lot of idle time on their hands can lead to all kinds of trouble.
You don't know everyone he's friends with at school and you don't meet friends parents as often as you did in elementary school.
They're not done growing at 12 and even bright kids can make some bad decisions and get in with a bad crowd.
Some kids start dating at 12.
Some of our sons friends did this and things were all lovey dovey up until the inevitable break up - and then the spite and drama goes on forever.
Our son saw what his friends went through and he's like "You do this for fun?".
Our son wasn't allowed to date till he was 16 and then when he could - he didn't want to.

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L.U.

answers from Seattle on

I do not get involved with my children's friends. (my boys are in high school and middle school, daughter is in 1st grade)
I would give opinions if they are asked for. I will step in if there is bullying or if I see something dangerous. But, other then that? It's up to my kids!

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C.B.

answers from San Francisco on

Leave it alone! I guarantee you, if you get involved, you will make things worse. You should not be involved in his friendships other than to know who his friends are and you should not be pals with his friends. They are his friends. Be as much involved in those friendships as he is in your friendships.

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