Bad influence friends

What can you do if your child is hanging around with bad influences?

Q: My 13-year-old daughter has started hanging out with a girl who is trouble with a capital T. This girl’s lifestyle and lack of supervision are not in tune with how we have raised our children — at 12, she has already been brought home drunk by the police. Unfortunately, the more I protest, the more my daughter proclaims this girl is her “good friend” and I can’t choose whom she spends time with. What can I do?

A: Your daughter knows how you feel about her friend, so there’s no point in repeating that. And, anyway, this is about your child’s behaviour, not her friend’s. If your daughter breaks any of your family rules when she is with her friend, you can impose a logical consequence: She isn’t allowed to be with the friend for a day or so.

Meanwhile, allow her to invite the friend to visit at your home and share a meal with your family. In this setting, your daughter may see how this girl doesn’t fit for her, and the friendship may die a natural death. On the other hand, the friend may find the structure of your home reassuring and actually change her behaviour to meet your expectations. Either way, you have acknowledged your daughter’s choice of friends while protecting your family rules and expectations.