Ask the Experts
I do not like my daughter’s friends at all. We have tried to encourage her to get new friends, but she is reluctant to do so and always has excuses like "no one likes him," or "she’s too preppy," etc. Her current friends often get into trouble and a couple have even been suspended or expelled from school! Our child says she is not into drugs but frankly, I do not trust her completely. Can I or should I make my daughter change friends?
Dear Parent, are you feeling that you are caught between a rock and a hard place?
Here is the dilemma: you can’t make your daughter change friends, but experts say that choice of friends is the biggest predictor of drug use. If her friends are using, it is likely that she may use too.
I think your instinct to not trust your child completely is right. The fact that she is choosing friends in trouble shows that she feels she belongs with them in some way. School expulsion and suspension are often indicators of drug use.
Here’s what you can do:
Talk to your daughter and really make an effort to find out why she wants to be with these friends.Is she caught between the same rock and hard place as you? What is her dilemma with these kids? Why does she like them? What does she enjoy about them? How do they treat her?
Speak to the parents of your daughter’s friends. Are they supervising their children? Would they be able to keep your daughter safe when she is at their house? Children’s drug use is limited when parents insist on adult supervision during the after school hours and evenings on the weekends. This is a safety and prevention issue more than it is an issue about your daughter’s friends. She has a right to choose her friends, but you have a right to make sure she is supervised and safe.
Alison Birnbaum is a Licensed Certified Social Worker who is a parenting expert in the National Youth Anti-Drug Media Campaign. She has a private practice in New Canaan, CT.