Family

Daughter being led astray by friends

Dear Diane, My 12-year-old daughter has got very matey with a girl who I can only describe as rough, and I’m worried she’s being led astray.
Daughter being led astray by friends - two teenage girls on a laptop

Dear Diane,

My 12-year-old daughter has got very matey with a girl who I can only describe as rough, and I’m worried she’s being led astray. This girl dyes her hair, wears her school uniform skirt as short as she possibly can and seems to really enjoy pushing the teacher’s buttons – I know this because the teacher has told me so previously. I don’t want my daughter to get into the “wrong” crowd, but every time I mention it, it seems to have the reverse effect and she stands up for her friend. How can I put a stop to it without being heavy-handed?

Pam, by email

Dear Pam,

As our children head towards puberty and being teenagers, they move developmentally from their family being all-important to the increasing importance of  their peer group. It’s at this stage that they start to grapple with the difference between their family’s values and the values of different members of their peer group. Any negative comment that you make about your daughter’s friend is likely to send her further into her pal’s camp. If you cannot restrain yourself, begin with the phrase “I am worried that…” and state the (short-term) outcome that worries you. The advantage is that, if your fears turn out to be incorrect and things turn out well, you are in a position to say, “I am so glad that I was wrong”. If your dire prediction comes true, never say “I told you so”. Rather understand that the next time you say “I am worried that…” you will have much more credibility! Make her friend welcome in your home and try to include her in family meals. I have found this often shows up the differences very clearly without your having to say a word. It also means that you are prepared to give your daughter’s friend a “chance” which can only enhance your relationship with her. What’s more, for the time being, you know where they are.

Diane Levy provides expert answers to your parenting queries. Send your questions to: [email protected].Diane’s parenting books are available in book shops.

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