Can Parents Choose Their Children's Friends?

The choice of friends is an extremely personal one that children should be allowed to make. However, the involvement of parents is also of great importance.
Can Parents Choose Their Children's Friends?

Last update: 17 July, 2021

Friendships have a great influence throughout our life cycle, but they’re especially important during childhood and adolescence. Friends accompany us as we grow up and have an important influence on our self-esteem and the way we see the world. For this reason, many parents may be tempted to choose their children’s friends in order to spare them possible suffering.

Having the wrong friends during school years can hurt children and young people. It can make them feel rejected and inadequate, or even be a bad influence pushing them towards wrong decisions.

All of this is true and, therefore, it’s legitimate, as parents, to feel a certain fear of our children’s social life and to want it to be as satisfactory as possible. However, in no case will it be positive for adults to make such a personal decision and deprive children of the right to choose with whom they share the time.

Children cultivating the value of friendship.

Parents shouldn’t choose their children’s friends

It’s likely that, during the journey of motherhood, you’ll have certain preferences about the type of people you’d like your child to hang out with.

It’s also possible that at various times you may have doubts about your child’s choice of friends. However, criticizing and judging those people who are so important to your child at a certain time will only drive a wedge between the two of you.

Likewise, remember that overprotection generates serious consequences in our children, such as insecurity, lack of confidence, and low self-esteem. And, without a doubt, deciding for them what their friendships should be is overprotection.

However, as parents, our role is fundamental and crucial in this matter, even if in an indirect way. Indeed, there’s much we can do to ensure that our children enjoy healthy and happy social relationships.

How can you help your child enjoy healthy friendships?

Below, we’ll discuss some of the strategies you can use to help children enjoy healthy friendships.

Teach your child what a good friend is

Since children or teenagers are the ones who’ll decide who they want to surround themselves with, it’s important to teach them what makes a good friend. We have to convey that a friend is someone who loves us, respects us, accompanies us during good and bad times, with whom we have fun, and whom we can trust.

However, words aren’t enough: our children won’t do what we tell them, but what they see us do. So let them observe your own relationships and the healthy, loving way you and your friends relate to each other. Try to surround yourself with the kind of people you’d like your children to surround themselves with; show them with your own example the value of friendship.

Parents shouldn’t choose their children’s friends: build self-esteem

Likewise, pay attention to the way you treat and address your children. Children learn in the family how much they’re worth and how they should be treated. That’s why they’ll expect the same from others as they received at home. So, make sure you love, respect, accept and support them so they grow up knowing that this is what they deserve in all areas of their life.

Friends sitting on the grass after playing.

Parents shouldn’t choose their children’s friends: listen and advise

Your children may experience conflicts with friends at times and come to you for advice. In those moments, try to remember that it’s much more valuable for you to help them analyze the situation and find solutions on their own, rather than telling them what to do.

Especially if the friend they’ve been having problems with isn’t a friend you like, try to be impartial. Don’t judge or purposely try to boycott the friendship. Just help your children think about it.

Choosing friends is a personal task

Finally, you’ll have to gather courage and patience and allow your children to walk their own paths and learn from their setbacks. Be there for them, support them and offer your advice whenever they need it. But ultimately, let them decide and trust that you’ve passed on to them the values necessary to make good decisions.

Children who feel loved and self-confident, who have been given opportunities to meet different kinds of people, will know how to choose those who fit their personality and ideals.

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