Can I choose my child’s friends?

I am asking this in response to a similar question posed by R’s Mom. The concerns that she has raised are what I have had many a number of times as a mother myself.

While I do understand her point when she says that one cant control the friends one’s child makes, but what I do believe is that we, as parents can surely guide our children towards choosing the right friends.

Why I believe so is because I feel growing children are very vulnerable and innocent and if we dont keep an eye on who they befriend or who not, theres a chance of them swaying towards keeping the wrong company. Now I agree I cant be with my child, watch over her 24/7 but I surely can observe her behaviour, talk to her ANd make her talk, right? Yes I give her the right values, R & I always make sure that we behave ourselves in front of her as well just as we expect her to behave herself in front of us and everybody else. But. Many a times what I have observed as a mother of a 5year old is how a child has a tendency to pick the wrong actions or words much faster than the right ones. So if I can teach her how to differentiate between a good behaviour and a bad behaviour I can certainly help her make the right circle of friends, right? Thats the logic I apply when I observe who Namnam makes friends with or who she gets negatively influenced by. Yes she has every right to make the friends she wants, but I’d like to help her know if the friends she makes are genuinely right for her or no for the simple reason that at an age that she is, I feel that she needs that guidance from me.

I had this experience, last year- something that I have blogged about here– with one of Namnam’s classmates from her previous kindegarten who had been having a bit of a wrong influence on her.And it was only when I discussed the issue with her teacher that my concern could get settled. Of course, the fact that she came and told me and we could talk about it made a world of a difference to me in addressing that issue.

In a similar instance in the recent past, when a boisterous 5year old from our compound began to corner Namnam and exclude her from playing with other kids, even going to the extent of yelling ‘I hate you’ everytime Namnam came around to play, I adviced her, pretty sternly, that unless the girl said sorry, she was not to play with her or be her friend. Because quite honestly I felt ‘hate’ was too strong a word for a 5 year old to take in..atleast not yet. Thankfully Namnam took the right message out of it and stopped playing with her altogether. I’m glad she went ahead and made friends with other kids, not necessarily her age, some older and some of whom even younger than her, but far more sensitive and forthcoming. No I’m not saying that I chose those friends for her, but I’d like to believe that I helped her get an idea about who she would rather be happy being friends with.

I dont know if I have the right answer to the ques RM posed, but I do have an answer that seems to have worked well till now. And I hope it does so in future too, at least till the time Namnam is big enough to make her own choice.