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.

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58 thoughts on “Can I choose my child’s friends?

  1. Wonderful post, Deeps!!

    ‘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?’ – Absolutely! I do think that is the key.

    I have so much to say on this.. May be I should do a post on this ๐Ÿ™‚

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      1. Deeps, Saksh – will try and post tomorrow.. I have been having some similar( not exactly the same though) concerns.. Poohi’s friends are not naughty but some of them hav ideas, which I am not exactly happy with, you know..So I have had to explain to her why we might have different ideas, and can still be friends with people..

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  2. Deeps it all depends on how much confidence the child has on her parents,child should talk to the parents about everything what happened in the school and in her surroundings so that parents can guide the child.

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  3. Hmmmm……for now we have some influence on them, what about later…I’m already facing the later and its not quite in our hands u knw.
    I just let it go…..like give a ‘casual’ warning & point out a few inadequacies..very casually….and then after a few days get to know tht they did not get along and decided to part ๐Ÿ˜€

    D: See, that casual guidance helped, isnt it? This is all I meant! We cant control who they make friends with, Nance, but we can certainly advice them if we sense that they might get wrongly influenced by the company they keep.

    But I do worry about later……sometimes how much ever a steady or stable environment we give them they’ll tend to get attracted to the fast and ‘in’ crowd…it gets quite tricky then ๐Ÿ˜›

    Thought-provoking post Deeps and hawwwww…..I’m third ๐Ÿ˜ฎ

    D: Hawww! ๐Ÿ˜› ๐Ÿ˜›

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        1. Oh with great pleasure I can proudly say for once that you are very very wrong my dear Nancy! I did post a few days back and that makes me wonder if all of you, including Deeps, went ahead and deleted my blog from your reader? ๐Ÿ˜ฅ

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  4. Very well said, Deeps! My thoughts are echoed by Nancy, I too believe, at a younger age, we can still influence their choice of friends, but later is a bit of a catch 22 situation! But at all stages, parents should be aware of the child’s friend’s circle… and the right/wrong, good/bad has to be harped on!

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    1. “But at all stages, parents should be aware of the childโ€™s friendโ€™s circleโ€ฆ and the right/wrong, good/bad has to be harped on!” I agree, Shilpa! Goodness you and Nance are scaring me or what?? So I have much to look forward to in the coming years, eh?? ๐Ÿ˜‰ ๐Ÿ˜€

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    2. @Shilpa: I totally agree with you too!

      and I remember you doing a post on two teenage boys while you were taking a bus journey…you’d mentioned about the kind of talks and the way they were talking

      I remember Pratik’s comment to your post: not the exact verbatim but trying to write in the message here-

      Pratik were at a party where in the colleagues child demanded a pepsi looking at elders glasses..to which the kid’s father made him understood that how pepsi and the likes are not his drink right now but milk and the likes….

      I think the Pratik’s colleague handled the situation quiet well..he could sternly told his son to go away and that he will not get pepsi..instead he chose to logically tell him the difference of the drinks…I think the handling part also matters a lot along with the right values !

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      1. This pepsi incident reminds me…….my kids are free to eat anything except Pepsi & chewing gum. Initially it was not questioned but now they point out to me all the kids in the foodcourts[and there soooo many :-(] who are happily having Pepsi & they give me such dirty looks like I’m their wicked step-mother or something ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

        I stick to my guns and tell them they can have it after 18 yrs and they beg me to reduce it to 16 yrs :-D. Honestly I know they have it sooner than that but I keep hoping that atleast some of what I keep telling them makes an impression somewhere.

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        1. Yup I get that very same wicked witch look when I refuse cola and chewing gum ๐Ÿ˜ฆ What is worse is when the mom’s of other “it’s-cool-to-chew-gum &-drink-cola” kids, try to make me see reason in front of the already “I hate you mom for denying me err stuffs” son of mine ๐Ÿ˜ฅ

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  5. so true @ picking up the wrong actions/habits faster than the right ones

    and I think there lies the whole mantra…teaching the child to differentiate the right from the wrong…if this goes well in the head I think the life is set.. ๐Ÿ™‚

    Give you an example: Husby’s family never has seen anyone smoke/drink in many a generations..so the same values were passed to these two brothers…when Husby went to the college his entire gang of friends started smoking / drinking,not on regular basis but for fun, and always insisted on husby to join them…but the values that he got from his parents…he has till date not touched a glass of drink or a butt of cigarette, not even in the name of tasting / trying!

    D: That is so heartening and wonderful to know, Nu! Values do go a long way in shaping a person, no doubt. And your hubby is a perfect example ๐Ÿ™‚

    so the point is values play a very important role in children’s life also one thing that I feel is the initial years like till the age of 6-7 years..are very crucial…you teach them whatever you want to by then cause later they start taking in from the world too and if they are not equipped with the right amount of family values then there might a tough task for parent’s to change their direction…you know what i mean?

    D: “the initial years like till the age of 6-7 years..are very crucial…”Absolutely! I feel so too, these are the formative years when you can guide your children, teach them what you want them to learn ๐Ÿ™‚

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  6. Well… I think what you say makes perfect sense Deeps. ๐Ÿ™‚
    Hate as part of a 5 yr old’s vocabulary is too strong!!

    D: So strong a word, isnt it? ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

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  7. I wish someone had a magic potion which could make me turn into whatever age the boy is, at my will….err so that I can be his best friend and guide him ๐Ÿ˜ณ

    D: saksh, why do you need a magic potion? You already are a child at heart and I’m sure Saman has the bestest friend in his Mom ๐Ÿ™‚

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            1. Saksh, before you’re rewarded with a magic potion, let me give you a heads up.. “Apple-nursery is giving a crash course for its Mac users!” Go to them and learn how to handle your key-board first! :mrgreen:

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  8. Friends just happen.You cannot choose them ๐Ÿ™‚

    D: You can, in my opinion, Bratu. If I think a certain person is not a very good influence on me, I can choose to disassociate from that person. And I feel I can advice the same to my child also. I cant control who she befriends, but i can help her guage if the friends she makes are the right ones for her:)

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    1. I think CB has a point. Deeps u r thinking fr ur perspective as in older & wiser. A child doesnt think sooo much, he or she may be desperate for company, want to be liked by his peers and so if somebody who is popular in class shows some attention they are so gratified….and will be ready to do anything.

      Just yesterday Nikita was saying something about some project between 2 grps in her class. And they needed building blocks but nobody had them. Nikita offered to get hers for them. Immediately the 2 leaders fought to get her in their group and she was sooo pleased. She chose the group where the grp leader was a 1st ranker.

      I sooo wanted to tell her…they were fighting bcoz thye wanted her blocks but then kept quiet thinking maybe once she gets into the group they’ll understand what she is like and then accept her which wd make her very happy.
      In this case I’m happy for her bcoz the groups were doing something constructive and she’s hanging around with children who are into studies. But my thinking is not her thinking…….she’s happy to be in there bcoz they are popular kids, etc, etc.

      err…..I’m not sure where I’m leading with all this…..I guess just trying to say tht our perspective may not necessarily be the child’s perspective.

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      1. nahiiiiii…..how could you Nance….sobs…how could you? say that the Brat is right?? ๐Ÿ˜ฅ There is a written rule in the Etiquette of Blogging that says, I quote “In no circumstances, however righteous it seems, shall thou agree to anyone who sports bleeding fangs in his DP. If you do agree with his views, you shall make sure you don’t publicly announce your approval and instead make a separate comment way way below his comment” :mrgreen:

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        1. Oh u r just plain jealous coz she found my comment very intelligent and the fact tht i got a POINT and you didnt !! *Doing the chammak challo jig at yakshi*

          Ooh and look she even gave me a new name although i would prefer ppl calling me by my full name… The Count Bratula…Muhahaha! ๐Ÿ˜ˆ

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          1. @ Sakshi……I didnt know I breached ๐Ÿ˜ฎ unwritten blogging laws when I agreed with Count Bratula[please note CB: I wrote ur FULL name]…..I beg to be pardoned as I wasnt aware of the etiquette followed in wordpress circles.
            Will a comment[or two] on your new post help my case :-P?????

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            1. Nancy-kochey, you may have defend your case right here for we may have to wait for the New Year to dawn for Saksh’s new post to come up, you see! Do you NOT KNOW Saksh yet?? And now her sangati has started to make me go on a blog-sanyas every now and then :mrgreen: ๐Ÿ˜›

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  9. โ€˜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? – Loved that..

    thanks Deeps…that you pointed out two incidents for Namnam gave me a lot of insight…I think what you did was correct….even if we cant choose friends..we can definitely guide them

    D: Welcome here R’s Mom :). I’m glad you could understand my point of view :).

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  10. what we inculcate as values in the little ones, they always help in all the spheres in life..and then communication is the key, we must always know the children’s friends and try to know their families too…we may not choose, but advise we can.certainly…

    D: I agree with what you, Renu. Communication is a very important key to raising a secure child.

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  11. Hi Deeps, A post which carries the concern of many of us, sometimes it really bothers me when children even though so small (my youngerone is not 4 yet) are bullied by children their age or even smaller, somehow I am at a wits end about this issue, it really really bothers me. Inspite of we telling the children about right and wrong, the children are at such a young age that when play beckons they just go ahead and forget what we said and again such things happen…
    take care
    rekha

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  12. Hi Deeps ! this is one problem that we parents are definitely more sensitive towards , because to some extent it is out of our bounds of control . All other behaviour can be policed and checked , because most of it reflects what is happening at home. But making friends …… is something that is left purely on a child . And I am sruprised that this post has come at the very time, I have been thinking on it too. Recently , my son has made friends with an older boy in the bus , who seems to be influencing him a lot. The boy may not be meaning any harm intentionally but my son tries to imitate his actions, which are not exactly approved by me ! But the question comes how to make him understand the things which are not acceptable to the adults, whereas it may seem very exciting to a 6 year old child ? Like pushing around kids, bringing expensive stuff to school and showing off etc etc. i tried making him understand why these things are not good , but he still doesn’t understand how does that make the boy unfit to be his friend ? Finally i had to literally order him to be away from this boy. But i am afraid this might confuse the child and also he might think i am being over restrictive .

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  13. Deeps, I think you are bang on when you say that kids pick up ‘wrong’ actions faster than the right ones. Therefore, as parents, I believe it is our duty to the kids, to help them choose friends correctly. However, I don’t think that is practical in the school setting. At home, we can control (to an extent) who they speak to or play with. But school is an entirely different matter. There, I guess the only thing we can do is listen to what our kids have to say, and advise them (yeah, boring as it sounds :-)) to stick with the good kids.

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  14. EXACTLY you see whatever we tell our kids how ever we teach them they are bound ot make mistakes.. and that is not a bad thing. they will learn from those .. but when we talk to them and explain to them THEN maybe they will not make SO MANY mistakes, if you know what i mean.

    Choosing a friend I doubt we can change that, I have had some good friends and some whome my parents hated , i did not bring them home .. you see these are some of the experiences that one learns .. who we think wrong may not actually be that bad .. its our view of them .. some bad people can actually be better friends to our kids.

    SO all i will say is Talk ot the little one, tell right from wrong and then let her make her own mind, kids are very clever these days and I am sure she will make a good decision.

    Talking helps a lot but choosing a friend for her I dont think it will work for long .. as you see she spends more time in school with them then home ..

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  15. My wife has a slight problem these days as my son is a cricket freak these days and keeps playing whole day with guys slightly older than his age and most of them are muslims… now she is worried his language is getting a mixture of hindi and gujarati and its not good …

    I dunno how much can you stop this…

    But we both do make a point that whenever he utters something wrong, we correct him, try to make him understand whats proper !

    Beyond that as they keep growing I am afraid our control over such choices is going to be thinner and thinner… !

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  16. Loved this post, Deeps. There is a certain limit to how much we can influence a child’s choice of friends, no matter how much we talk to them or make them understand. A young one might still listen and even if they do not understand, try and follow advice, but as they grow older life becomes more complicated, and that is why it is so so so essential that you constantly know what is happening.
    Sadly, not many parents (I speak as a teacher here ๐Ÿ™‚ ) influence or advice their child enough, and when we do point out, to both the influencer and influencee (forgive me for those coined words… ๐Ÿ™‚ ) both sets of parents immediately get on the defensive, however gently we try and convey the message. A lot of teachers are judgemental, but I speak here of those who earnestly and sincerely try to help.
    So, when I read this, and find such discernment, I am truly happy, and hope more parents would take this much of effort and make a difference in the young ones’ lives!
    Thank you Deeps ๐Ÿ™‚

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  17. What you did was right, Deeps. Well, at the tender age of 5, children should be children. We can guide them for some more years. Then, when they grow up, they will start making mistakes and learn from them. We can help them as much as we can, that is all. But we must try, anyway!

    Very good post, Deeps!

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  18. to answer your question…no, you cant and you shouldnt !!! how else will the child know whats the difference between good and bad ? ๐Ÿ™‚ ๐Ÿ™‚ and like Brat says, you dont make friends, they happen to you ! I have had good and bad friends, but I know my limits very well. I am surrounded by people who drink and smoke, but I can say proudly that I dont even drink tea and coffee ! ๐Ÿ™‚ ๐Ÿ™‚ You choose a friend for your child now; the child chooses the kind of people he/she wants you to interact with, in the future. so beware ! ๐Ÿ˜€ ๐Ÿ˜€ ๐Ÿ˜€

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  19. Sharing a friend’s comment that she shared on Facebook:

    Savitha Nair: good point !!!! only yday i faced the same prob… the girl whom nanni calls her friend slapped her…..god how i got annoyed! i asked her “baby y didnt u slap her back ” and her her answer” how can i … am a gud girl na … good girls dont hit others ” now u guys answer me …i only taught her not to hit others coz she is a gud girl .. but does it mean tat others r gonna hit my poor child !!!:(

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  20. Rekha, Manisha,Pals, Bik, Hitchy, Ushus, Sandhya, Vimmu, & Savi, thank you for sharing your thoughts on this post . From all of your comments the one thing that I gather is how important an aspect communication is while raising children. Nance, you raised a very interesting point about how parentโ€™s perspective need not always be the childโ€™s perspective. I understand it is easy to mould a younger child, but as he/she grows up. begin to form a mind of their own, it becomes difficult to convince him/her of what is right or wrong. And thats where communication comes in handy, the need to talk to your child constantly, listen to her/him, observe her/his behaviour. and advice her/him as and when the need arises.

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  21. Well, I see no harm in taking these decisions on behalf of children as long as they are not mature enough to take them on their own. The cases you talked of – bad influences, bad company – a 5 year old can hardly do anything to rectify the same. With time, when she realizes the subtle differences between right and wrong, she will make the right choices.

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