I can’t stand my child’s friend

While some parents admit that they do not like the company their children keep, some keep their dislike private because they think that they could not choose whom their children play with.

So, smilingly they welcome the “naughty” child and try to bear those behaviours they dislike. But some mothers not only warn their children to desist from playing with the friend, they also look for every excuse to bar the child from their home.

One mother that I knew used to wonder openly if “that disobedient girl” was the only one her daughter chose to befriend among all the children in the school or their neighbourhood. Her complaint was that her daughter’s friend was disrespectful in her own home; “When you scold her, she makes faces at you and mimics your words, scornfully,” was her annoyance.

She was at her wits end because her nine-year-old girl has begun to copy this behaviour and sings her praises at home. But her discomfiture is that through the “naughty” girl’s influence, her quiet child had become more assertive and could stand up for herself. “I confess that I encouraged the friendship because of what I thought was a good influence, but it has come to a point where my own child would shout me down even before I put in a word. Now some people tell me that my daughter might be as troublesome to be attracted to the girl who all agree is naughty.”

A nine-year-old talk you down before you speak ? You should not allow this to continue, but we see them often, mothers of boys; boys especially-who stand by and watch as their sons play rough and talk tough. But you would not say that they are mothers who are happy that their children are getting out of hand; who wants a child who is described as disrespectful? Disrespect, as every mother should know, would not help you to make a desired relationship.

They are mothers who left the correction too late or they see their coarse children as future leaders who need to be forceful. But they find too late that they are wrong, because the young ones become unpopular before they grow up.

You can correct it but beating him is not the ideal. You will not get the desired result if you tell him to stop playing with someone he considers his best friend; he may listen this time, but it may not curb his attraction to troublesome friends.

However, you may congratulate yourself for having found out early that your child feels comfortable with the wrong company. If you know, you can guide him before he becomes a teenager.

But before you drive the friend from your home, tell him that you do not welcome children who are disrespectful in your home. Then try to see why your child likes him. It may be possible that his behaviour appeals to your child because he is still trying to figure out how to deal with people the right way. So is his behaviour good apart from what you think? Sometimes, other people’s children bring out a feeling of inadequacies on our part; their behaviour may make us to think that we may not be doing some things right as parents. But think of why you are sure that he is not a good influence on your child. Do not take this lightly because children who copy others without understanding the consequences get into serious trouble.

Some learn positive things like independence and how to do better at school through diligent study. But one friend could be both good and bad for your child, so it is up to you to know where to step in. Some children are attracted by material things, which you may not give out freely while they are his to take at home. If her friend has more pocket money and buys ice cream when he desires it, whereas it is an occasional treat in your house, he would see the sun shining out his eyes.

Discipline is another thing; if he can visit and stays till midnight but your son is scolded for missing lunch because of play, he will worship his rough friend.

However, if it is an issue of self-confidence, you would have to tread gently because at this phase, your child wants to depend on friends more than family. So gently teach your child that it is good to respect people. Have the friend visit you instead of your child going to him. Stress the importance of good behaviour.

But talk to your child to know why he is so close to that boy, of all the ones you know. Your talk may make him to understand the wrong things the friend is doing and he will know how to make a better choice next time.

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