My Teenage Child is Hanging Around a Bad Crowd

In a perfect world, our kids wouldn’t be exposed to dangerous people or situations until we decided they were ready (if ever). Unfortunately, this world is far from perfect, and we can’t monitor what our kids are doing all the time. Our children are free to choose their friends, and it can be easy to get in with the wrong crowd. Fortunately, there are still things that you, as a parent, can do to get your child to see things your way without locking them in their rooms all night.

So What If I Don’t Like My Child’s Friends

First of all, it’s important to evaluate why you have become wary of your teen’s friends. Are they rude? Do you not approve of how they dress? Do you suspect that they may be up to no good? It’s important to realize that your first impression of your child’s new friends could be wrong, or based on personal biases that may be wrong. Even a teen who comes off as rude or unlikeable isn’t necessarily a bad person. When the friends’ values don’t fall in line with your family’s, however, your fears are legitimate. If you feel that your teen’s new friends may get them into trouble or inspire reckless behavior, then it’s time to (very carefully) take action.

What Can I Do?

First, it’s important to remember not to criticize your child’s friends outright. More often than not, this will just unite them against you, and that’s a bad place to be. It’s also probably a bad idea to forbid your child to hang out with these friends — for the same reason. So, what can you do?

  • Make sure your teen knows the rules and the consequences
  • Set a curfew
  • On weekends, make sure they ask whether they can go out (rather than just disappearing)
  • Find out where they’ll be and with whom
  • Get contact info (preferably a cell phone number) for the other children’s parents
  • Be sure your teen doesn’t view going out as a right. They should know to ask permission, and they should know that you might say “no”

State the behaviors of which you disapprove and why. Be careful not to directly criticize your child’s new friends, but explain the behaviors that you find troubling. For example, you disapprove of going out on school nights because it’s more difficult to be alert at school the next day. Try to use a solid set of guidelines to protect your child from harmful relationships.

This May Be Worse Than I Thought

If your child strongly resists the rules that you’ve established, there’s a pretty good chance that the problem runs deeper than just experimenting with different groups of friends. If you can’t seem to be able to get the situation under control, it may be time to seek out professional help. Talk with teachers and guidance counselors. If necessary, arrange a meeting with a psychologist and have your child talk to a psychologist.

At Outback, we specialize in identifying the problem at its very root. By removing the adolescent from his or her comfort zone, we are able to get them to look within to see the real reason that they’ve chosen friends who fly against the values taught by their parents. Once the problem has been identified at its root, it’s possible to focus on healing and getting back on track to a happy, healthy path.


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