Developing a Relationship of Trust With Your Adopted Kids Friends

Your child’s friend group can significantly influence their motivation, behavior, and sense of self. Teenage girls often face social pressures that can cause them to make friends with people they might otherwise avoid or choose not to interact with.

Teenagers with a history of trauma are at a higher risk of experiencing social abuse or harassment and peer pressure to participate in illegal or risk-taking behaviors. As a parent, you want your child to be safe, and monitoring their social circle can help you ensure they spend time with honest and trustworthy peers. Healthy friendships provide a stabilizing influence and space for your child to explore their growing sense of self, while unhealthy friendships can damage self-esteem and undermine positive mental health.

Your Child Needs Healthy Friendships

Teenagers need healthy friendships. According to the United States Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), “Adolescence is a period of rapid change — physically, emotionally, and socially — and relationships with friends play an important role in the lives of adolescents as they become increasingly independent, develop their own identity, and grapple with self-esteem.” Friendships that embrace and encourage individuality, diversity, and personal growth make it easier for your daughter to grow into a healthy, independent young woman.

Healthy friendships provide the following benefits:

  • A space outside the family unit where teens experience positive social interactions
  • An opportunity to learn and develop essential social skills
  • Improved verbal and nonverbal communication
  • A way to test setting and maintaining personal boundaries

Your daughter’s friend group will naturally increase, split, and change as they grow. You may not always approve of the people that they choose to spend time with. Keep an eye out for warning signs that a relationship might be less than healthy.

Recognizing Signs of Problematic Peers

Peer pressure is powerful. Researchers at the University of Michigan have found that the same part of the brain associated with physical pain gets triggered by social rejection. As children age, they face more opportunities to make or break good social standings. To avoid feeling rejected, teenagers might do things or make friends with people they might otherwise avoid.

It is essential to monitor your child’s friends and friendships. The Journal of Child and Family Studies reported that, overall, most mothers “were familiar with best friends, moderately informed about same-sex friends, and not informed at all about opposite-sex friends.” Familiarize yourself with who your child hangs out with by monitoring their interactions through the following:

  • Conversations with your child
  • Conversations with other parents or teachers
  • Observing friends’ behavior

You may want to have a conversation with your child about particular friends if you notice the following behaviors:

  • Secretive, antisocial, or risk-taking behaviors
  • Legal trouble or problems at school
  • The friend putting down or shaming your child
  • Violent or unusually aggressive behavior
  • Suspected or confirmed substance abuse
  • Rude, dismissive, or disrespectful behavior

Talking to Your Daughter About Your Concerns

Learning to set social boundaries and cutting ties with toxic friendships is never easy. You can help your child by talking to them about your concerns. Point out how their friend group can affect their current and future health. Your daughter will never learn about the harsher realities of life if you isolate her entirely from negative individuals. However, it is your responsibility to keep her physically and emotionally safe.

A conversation about your concerns regarding a friendship should not be judgmental of the friend. Instead of focusing on all the ways you see them as toxic, let your child know that you are worried about them and you care about them. Let them know your feelings about their friend and why you feel they might be in an unhealthy relationship. Then let your child have a chance to respond, give their point of view, and make their own decision about whether to continue the friendship.

Try Not to Forbid the Friendship

You can provide moral support and valuable advice for your child as they learn to set and maintain boundaries with people they consider friends. Today, teenagers face more social challenges than older generations. The prevalence of social media and technology can make it very difficult to control who your child spends time with. In addition, if you try to make them stop being friends with someone, they may go to even greater lengths to connect with them and engage in risk-taking or rebellious behaviors that put them in danger.

Instead of presenting an ultimatum and making them give up a friendship, monitor the situation closely without showing signs of distrust and make it clear that you are interested in your child’s well-being. Learn more about their friend and actively listen to what they say.

Sometimes children make questionable decisions with good intentions. Other times they may feel pressured to make choices they may otherwise choose against. Friend groups and interpersonal dynamics often change during a child’s teenage and young adult years. As a parent, your responsibility is to ensure that safe peers surround your child. If you notice your child hanging out with a new friend they rarely ever talk about, or if you notice a new friend exhibits maladaptive behaviors, then you might need to step in and speak to your daughter. Havenwood Academy encourages positive friendships and social bonds. We understand that healthy friendships are essential to teenage development and trauma recovery. To learn more about our program, call our office today at (435) 586-2500. Every child deserves to have access to high-quality mental health treatment. We can help parents find local, state, and county funding. 


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