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Moms Talk: Your Child's Social Scene

We want to hear your thoughts.

It's time to grab a cup of coffee and settle in as we start the conversation with this week's questions:

Today's topic:

Imagine this. Your son's newest friend is a big-time troublemaker and your daughter's best friend is obsessed with vampires at an age when Chia Pets should still amaze her. Or maybe your kids' friends are terrific, but their parents are the cause for concern.
 
The inspiration for this week's topic comes from a local mom of two school-aged children. She is perplexed on how much freedom to give her kids before putting her foot down and telling them who they may and may not choose as friends. It's a dilemma that worries parents of teenagers, too. So what's a parents to do?

The questions:

  • How far would you go to protect your kids from the influence of potentially-troublesome peers? 
  • Would you consider forbidding them to be friends with a certain child or teen? When and why?
  • Would you ever discourage your kids from befriending a child whose parents have very different family values than the ones you embrace?

Now take a look at what our Moms Council has to say. Here they are:

Beth Blanck is a Brewster mom whose son is 2 and a half years old. She writes a weekly column called  for Southeast-Brewster Patch and she is the head of the council.

Noreen Mahoney is Brewster mother of two boys. Aside from being active in the community, Noreen teaches improv workshops.

Tracy Dunne-Derrell is a Brewster mother of one. She is a middle school teacher and she is currently fighting a battle familiar to many parents: trying to get her 4-year-old daughter to sleep!

Suzanne Perucci has lived in the area for 20 years. She works for The Pampered Chef and is the mother of two teenagers.

If you would like to join the council, or if you have a suggestion for a topic, email Ashley.Tarr@patch.com.

Beth Blanck July 20, 2011 at 08:14 PM
I don't recall my parents getting between myself and the individuals I chose as friends but I do recall discussing with them certain behaviors friends would display, like yelling at their parents and showing disrespect. It was a way of us all staying on the same page that the behavior was wrong but I still remained friends with the person because it didn't really influence me. If I felt that my child's friendship was having a negative impact such as falling grades, bad behaviors or driving away other more appropriate friends I probably would step in and limit, as much as I could, the amount of out of school time spent with that person. I think this might work up until the teenage years after which maybe I would have to remove privileges since I probably couldn't prohibit the friendship. I would try not to punish a child for their parents bad choices but would most likely not allow my child at the house, maybe just have them to our house or just meet somewhere in between. I did get good grades and I wasn't in trouble but I did tend to gravitate towards kids who were somewhat rebellious themselves.
sabrina condon July 20, 2011 at 08:24 PM
When I was 6 or 7 I was forbidden to go to April's home. I was told it was b/c the house itself wasn't safe, but I suspect it's b/c the eldest daughter had died recently in a car crash and the 2 remaining children were still reeling from it. So much so that the baby brother tried to choke me. Regardless, I always snuck over to her house to play (why my parents didn't know my whereabouts at this age, I will never understand). When I was in junior high and forbidden to play with Aubrey. DSS was called repeatedly to her home. There was no running water, etc, etc. I always found a way to go out with her or play with her anyway. In high school it was Shannon. Same thing. Always found ways to hang out with each other. So banning doesn't work, IMO. I like Beth's idea on the friends coming to our house and the idea of discussing behaviors. Perhaps if my parents had been honest with me about WHY they didn't want me around those girls, i would have followed their wishes. And there's another side to this...what about kids you SHOULD ban from your child's life and don't realize it? My parents would push, push, push me towards 2 particular girls. Peggy's family (adults and children) was horrible to me....called me names, played tricks on me, grew pot in the fields, etc. I finally told my parents that they were not good people and that's why I refused to play with her anymore. I feel as though they should have picked up on these things, though.
Noreen Mahoney July 21, 2011 at 12:05 PM
As parents we would protect our children from anything we thought would be harmful to them. However, in parenting, as in most things in life, you need to have a balance and know when to pick your battles. As Sabrina noted, most kids will find a way to be with the peers they want to whether or not their parents approve. This will happen in dating, too. ( Romeo and Juliet) The more you forbid the fruit, the more tempting it becomes. So for my family, it becomes about discussion, honesty, and awareness of our approval or disapproval as parents. Right now my oldest is 17 and this has proved to be a tough age, as I knew it would be. I realize that forbidding him to hang out with teens that I know are making bad choices or who have less than responsible parents would be in vain. Teens, especially boys, are for the most part impervious to consequence, and would rather live for the moment and deal with the fallout later. Precisely why you never drop the ball at this age! However, knowing when to act on instinct and when to let it ride comes easier as they grow and you have to, at some point, trust that your child will make good decisions. Regarding parents that you do not approve of, this will never change! As they graduate and move out, they will be around families, friends, and coworkers who have very different values from what you have instilled. Then you must trust that the morals and internal fortitude you helped them develop from infancy will carry them through.

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