Bad friendships in adolescence. This is an issue that usually torments parents but that for the most part, for teenagers turns out to be an exaggeration or overprotection. Parents have endless experiences that allow them to identify some characteristics that they do not want in their children’s friends, however, they do not know how they can transmit them. In this post, we will talk about those types of friendships and how to help or provide tools to children to avoid interactions that are harmful to them.
Bad friendships in adolescence What are they?
Let’s start by analyzing What is a bad friendship? to begin with, giving a connotation of good or bad to things will only cause children to move away from our advice, this because we are giving a moral burden to things and we are not remembering that although they grew up under our rules and teachings, they do not have our same thought and much less move under the totality of our values. That is, we ignore their moral context and experiences.
The best way to approach them is to think from their context, ask and understand why it is good or bad for them, and what it gives them. I’m not saying stop advising, but rather than together you find out the characteristics, objectively, that is within those interactions so that you can start to see how functional that link is.
So let’s think about it like this. Let’s make an analogy. Let’s imagine that you are very afraid of swimming pools, everything that has to do with swimming because as a child you almost had an incident in which you were about to drown. From that event, you did not touch the water again for any reason. Your son grew up and at school, he had to take swimming lessons. It is so good that now it is the sport he loves the most, although the first classes also had a small incident, he learned the best tools and techniques to achieve it, in turn now not only swims in swimming pools but in the sea, small streams, etc. You have learned to identify in which places you may be in certain danger, which will require you a specific physical condition, etc. What is bad or dangerous for you, for him may not be. None are right or wrong. Both ways of seeing that same event are valid because they work for them. It keeps you safe not to enter the water and to him to know techniques because he enters it. We can not prevent him from having contact with water, but we will be calmer because he has all the knowledge about self-care.
In other words, we can rescue from this example: we can’t control what they do, but we can give them tools. We must put ourselves in their shoes and from their experiences let them build their own parameters of friendship; these should make them feel comfortable and allow them to create “healthy” or functional interactions.
How to remove bad friendships from my son or daughter?
As we already mentioned, we will not call them bad, rather, not very functional in the lives of our teenagers. Friendships are part of a choice, so the fact that they move away or stay it’s up to your child and not you, but giving them tools to improve their Social skills will help them a lot to mould their choices into a type of friendship that gives them pleasant experiences and bonds where you sit quiet, as well as respected. Here are some points we recommend you work with:
Beware of example
Sometimes we don’t realize it and we are the main model for our children. If we usually lie to our friends, for them it will be normal and they will see it as part of their life. If we joke about hurtful things, although they cause laughter at the moment, we give the message that violence is valid in the interaction. That real and funny friendships will laugh at aspects of you, leading you perhaps to think that defending your rights makes you an unwanted friend or spoiler. These types of confusing messages can lead you to establish behaviours that make you feel confused over time.
Fear of loneliness and rejection
Talking about this topic can be a bit imposing or uncomfortable, but it is important. Let’s not talk about fear but about loneliness as such, considering the benefits it can bring. Knowing what you think about people who are not surrounded by friendships, makes thinking more flexible, that is, giving many possible answers so that loneliness is no longer the worst of fates, where it is understood as part of life, as well as rejection.
Thinking of rejection is not something that condemns you, but allows you to identify what you want and what you don’t; who you want to be with and why. Analyze what characteristics or elements had that moment in which he was not elected in a party, was ignored in a talk, got angry with him, etc., and let’s leave in the background the question “What is wrong with me?” Instead, give these situations a structure that will allow you to understand what you can modify and what is not in your hands. In turn, decide what you want to modify and what you don’t; think about what consequences it might have, making you think about how comfortable you will be in that group if you modify something to interact with them; whether you really like it features or not, even look at other options. Open that panorama together.
Teach him to set limits on whoever and when necessary
This step is an element that cannot be missed. However, it can be hard for you, as it is a skill that you will have to apply to everyone; family, acquaintances, friends, strangers, etc. It’s about putting on the table what things really bother you, thinking about why and getting down to work within those limits. Setting limits means not allowing anyone to pass over their rights but in turn, not to pass over the rights of the other. Everything should be directed towards respect.
This element will allow you to visualize with whom it is easier for you to live, that is, who has this culture of respect, of care for the other. This is usually difficult because the first thought that can come to his head is “and if I am left alone”, but once you manage to break the fear of loneliness this new idea is established, I am not alone, I look for and create links with people more in line with me. Teach him that setting boundaries are a symbol of self-love and love for others. Although it is something that not all people are willing to do or respect, as it is a commitment.
Definition of friendship and its characteristics in adolescence
Discuss and evaluate what both desired and undesirable consequences your concept of friendship can have. This way you can continue to outline what you want from a friendship, visualize the people with whom you will build close ties and with whom you will not, as well as understand the consequences that your decisions will have.
Example: “Friendships never criticize and support unconditionally no matter what.”
Pros: If you find people under this same ideal, you will surround yourself with people with patient listening, who will not bother you since they will not upset you, they will be unconditional before anything, so you will experience very rarely loneliness.
Cons: It may not be so easy to express in this type of relationship when something bothers you or you disagree. If you are wrong in the ideal of friendship that your friend has, he may express it differently, so you will feel that you give everything and he nothing, coming to disappoint you. You can get into very difficult situations for the other or even you get to affect your friendships if you take them to unconditional, etc.
It is there that the talk can become a whole philosophical analysis, follow the line of the talk and build new questions, following the example, you can ask: What is unconditional? How far would you go or would you want them to go for you? What else happens? etc.
These points that we recommend can help your child become more critical about his ideals and above all that he is careful about what he is building with the people around him, as well as the possible consequences of it. All this without imposing a value judgment that will immediately cut off the opportunity to advise or guide you. We hope that these tips will help you in this incredible stage of your child, adolescence
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