A friend is one of the nicest things you can have, and one of the best things you can be.
As parents we want our teen to have friends, to have someone to go to the game with or to hang out with and watch movies. However, as a parent we also want our teen to be a good friend. Part of parenting is having the conversation with your teen on what makes a good friend. What are the qualities of a good friend? That is a great first question to ask your teen.
A friend is someone who is there for us and whom we’re there for in return. Teen friendships have their ups and downs, but your teen needs to understand what makes a good friend. A good friend is one that can be trusted. It is important to discuss trust in friendships and what building trust means in a friendship. Trust in friendship means different things to different people, but I feel there are a few constants to teen friendships and relationships as a whole. One of the important aspects of trust for teens is that their friends stand up for them when they’re not around. It is about limiting the gossip of your friend and not letting it happen when you are part of the conversation. Gossip and drama is all fun and intriguing for everyone until you are the focus of the gossip and drama. Teens have shared that it is important to know that your friend has your back, and if they don’t then they are not a good friend. That seems to be the foundation of trust.
Teens have also shared that spilling secrets is a big deal. They feel that a friend never shares a secret with other people. The question I have is, when can and should a teen share another secret and with whom? This is another great conversation to have with your teen, and it focuses on the values of your teen. Teens struggle with confidences shared with them and if they should share them. Should a teen tell an adult if their friend is going to sneak out to go to a party? Or should the teen tell if their friend cheats on a homework assignment? Which one does your teen discuss with their friend and which one requires adult intervention? As a parent, we all have our thoughts on what to do but your teen is trying to decide how to be trustworthy and yet do what they think is right. Parenting is tough and having these conversations before your teen is in that situation gives your teen permission to talk to you about any situation and you can offer the best advice or step in and help your teen navigate the situation so that no harm comes to their friend.
Being a teen is difficult, the social rules are complex and failure to follow is catastrophic in the eyes of your teen. Create an environment where you talk about trust, what makes a good friend, that your teen can share anything, and that together you will navigate the situation with thoughtful discussion. We want our teens to trust us as a parent and to gain critical thinking skills to assess a situation and decide on a course of action that is safe for everyone.
A great resource for your teen is our book on Teen Friendship available on Amazon, One Friend? Two Friends? Good Friend? Bad Friend?