Wednesday 13 March 2024

Letting teenagers make their own choices about friends!

Parenting teenagers can be a rollercoaster ride and one of the most challenging aspects is allowing them to make their own choices, especially when it comes to friendships. I know as a parent I want to give them the freedom to make their own choices but at the same time I worry about the choices that they are making especially when it comes to friendships.

I feel that I have been lucky with my girls as yes they have made some questionable choices when it comes to the people they choose to call friends but when things are heading in the wrong direction my girls know wrong from right and mostly stop the friendships in their tracks.

person wearing beaded bracelets and bracelet

Teenagers are at an age where peer influence is incredibly powerful. They look up to their friends and sometimes want to be like them which can be positive in some cases but it can also lead to negative consequences when their friends make poor choices. Just after Ellie started college she started vaping, because all of her friends did. She had an awful cough and it took us finding a vape in her bedroom to find out what was going on. Amazingly to her as soon as she stopped vaping over the Christmas holidays her cough vanished. She realised vaping was bad for her health and she doesn't have to do something just because her friends are doing it. 

A while ago Ellie had a friend who just seemed like a wrong'un. I knew that, Stu knew it but Ellie couldn't see it until she did. It all came to a head when the person said she wasn't allowed to hang out with her friends and had to stay with them. Ellie wasn't having that, she is fiercely independent and knows her own mind and could see this person was controlling, thankfully she told them where to go!

In today's digital word it's easier than ever for our kids to connect with people online, some of whom may not have the best intentions. Online friends can become real life friends, and it's challenging to know who these individuals really are. I worry about who my girls speak to online. I have one rule, especially for Ellie that everyone she is friends with online and has on her social media accounts have to be people that she knows in real life. It is hard for me to back this up as I have online friends, who I class as real friends who I have never met in real life. In the past my girls have spoken to people online who weren't who they claimed to be, they are defiantly more careful now, lesson learned!

One of my girls had a friend who I wasn't keen on but I let things go and just watched on while this person made enough mistakes so that my girl could see that they were not a good person. Of course I had told my girl my concerns but at the time she just couldn't see it and wouldn't listen. It took time and a lot of me biting my tongue but I was there to wipe the tears and to pick up the pieces when things came to a head.

It's easy to jump to conclusions and pass judgment on our teenagers friends especially when they are not like the usual friends that they have had. Many times I have had to resist the urge to judge and and approach the situation with an open mind. One of Becky's friends who first came across as really loud, confident and a bit of a party girl, I thought she was trouble but she is actually absolutely lovely and not half as wild as I first thought. She likes her nanna naps, reads a lot and yes she likes to go out partying she spends a lot more time at home in front of the TV. At first I worried about her leading Becky astray, staying out all night but so far that hasn't happened and they've been good friends for over a year.

My girls have both had friendships in the past that they have just grown out of. They are still friends with people but they don't hang out with them like they used to. Becky was really good friends with a couple of people from college but they have gone off to do their own thing and now they rarely see each other or even speak like they used to. Becky did try but I mentioned to her that it was always her making the first move to chat or to arrange to meet up. It's just natural that as children grow into teenagers and then adults that friendships change which is sometimes hard to watch but it's a part of life.

Letting our teenagers make their own choices about friends can be a challenging and sometimes nerve wracking experience. While we want them to forge their own paths we also want to protect them from harm and steer them in the right direction. As parents we must trust that they will make good choices while also being there to provide support and guidance when needed.

Do you ever question your teen's friendship choices?


  1. What a great post! We can tell our kids our concerns, but they don't see them and don't listen, so we have to grit our teeth and wait for them to come around. It's tough to be a parent of a teenager.

  2. It can be a minefield, but it sounds like your girls are pretty good at making their own decisions. We've been especially lucky with my younger son's friends. He had the same friends all through school and they're still close now. He's also made some good friends at uni. My daughter has a lovely best friend and a small group of other friends. Her old friends turned nasty in year 9/ year 10, so she just left them behind! My eldest is really good at staying in touch with people - he has friends from primary school, both secondary schools and work! I always worry a bit when he stays out late drinking with them (usually about once or twice a month), but he's always OK.