While traveling a few weeks ago, my husband and I stopped at a fast food joint to get a bite to eat. While sitting down eating our meal, I couldn’t help but notice the peculiar group sitting next to us. The group consisted of about six teenage boys and one middle aged woman. After picking up a few lines of their conversation I learned that the woman was mother to one of the teenage boys and the rest of the boys were his friends. What I found interesting was the way the boys and mother were talking. It was as if they were all friends with each other. It didn’t seem weird to any of them that a mom was hanging out with them. At first I thought to myself that this was a weird situation but after thinking about it, I realized that this wise mother was on to something.
When you know the people your child spends time with it can give you a unique window into who your child is. You may learn more about your child’s interests, communication skills, fears, and dreams. Befriending your child’s friends might also be beneficial because you can rest assured that you know what types of people are influencing your child.
Growing up, my parents would oftentimes sit down with me and my friends and have a conversation about just about anything. Later, after my friends had left, my parents would talk to me about each individual friend and ask questions about them, being careful not to be too intrusive.
While befriending our children’s friends can be very beneficial, there are certain things we need to be cautious about. Dr. Gwen Dewer writes about how parents need to be an authority figure first and foremost and then a friend. She says, “Parents can build close, personal relationships with their kids and still remain responsible adults. Not every friendship is based on sharing equal status.” The same is true when befriending other children. To them, you need to be a parental figure first, and then a friend.