Joyce, “You can’t make your children like your friends’ children. You can encourage them to meet and play, but personalities and differences of opinion are paramount and can cause conflict. Even your hardest effort sometimes can’t change your child’s mind and you should respect this.” Tip 7
I recall my Mom giving me the advice Joyce highlights in tip #7, “You can’t make your children like your friends’ children.” Regrettably, I recall arguing with Michael about making friends, with the friends I wanted him to have. I sadly, went so far as to tell him he was being difficult, hard to get along with, too fussy even.
During those years my Mom advised, there could come I day I did not want Michael to have these friends, the friends I was, today, so fond of. She warned, I may not choose these friends for him tomorrow. As per my pattern, I did not listen. At times, I did believed Michael was hard to get along with, becoming critical of the high standards I imparted on him.
Again with another move, I encouraged him to go outside to play, “find some friends.” There were only a couple of children on the block, Michael did not want to play with them. How that angered me! How I pushed him! How wrong I was! Yet again, my Mom was right!
In the years to pass, I have been enlightened by some hard-earned wisdom: I cannot and should not choose Michael’s friends! He selected much better friends for himself, than the friends I was selecting for him.
Michael attempted to explain things to me, as did my Mother. Now Joyce is attempting to convey the same advice, and I have joined the cause! I realize, Michael knows best who he wants to befriend. He knows who he will gel with.
I now believe kids will gravitate to those who share their similarities in terms of activities, preferences, and most importantly values. Kids know more about the kids than an adult, much more than I.
I often hear parents complaining about their child’s peer group, particularly in the teen years. This is such a misnomer, a falsehood. In my experience, children will befriend to like-minded individuals. This happens in all stages, really. Believing your children are ‘acting-out’ because of their peer group, is an amateur mistake.
If your children are hanging around with sketchy peers, that is a sign of a deeper issue. If they are being influenced by sketchy peers, that too is a sign of a deeper issue.
If you raise your kids to know the values you hold, and the expectations you have, they will find peers with similar outlooks. If they hang with individuals doing drugs, it is because they also want to do drugs. The problem lies not with the peer group, but with your child’s interest and choices – in my humble opinion.
Today, I am very proud of Michael’s friendships. He has introduced me to some wonderful people over the years. Thankfully Michael was strong willed and highly resistant!