Sons friend a bad influence

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Renz
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Sons friend a bad influence

Postby Renz » Mon Feb 20, 2023 1:00 am

Hi
I am looking for some advice to do with my 14 year old son. He has a group of very good friends who come over to the house often and all of whom are friendly and I know a few of their parents. He also has another couple of friends who I don't know so well and that he sometimes hangs out with. One of these boys I don't trust - I don't want to go into details but I have overheard a couple of conversations with him and my son and the boy was talking about drinking. I have raised this with my son and he says his friend was just joking but I don't believe it. Anyway I don't want my son hanging out with him but I am afraid that if I say that my son will do the opposite or just lie about who he is going out with. Any suggestions how to handle this?
Many thanks
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Commonality
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Re: Sons friend a bad influence

Postby Commonality » Mon Feb 27, 2023 11:03 am

This sounds really tricky. Do you know the boy’s family or have a way of meeting them? I think I would set up a really frank chat with your son, because ultimately as you say he has enough agency that you can’t use force or control, and so it has to come from his own decision-making. Don’t let it be a casual chat either that he can walk away from or that can get interrupted- take him out for a meal or a drive and tell him you want to speak to him about something that’s concerning you. He’s at that critical age (I know we can call a lot of ages ‘a key age’!) where he’s stepping into adulthood and choosing who he wants to be and I think if you set out for him your concerns for him to consider for himself that might help. Alongside describing your awareness that as you describe, he could just lie and do as he pleases, because he has increasing autonomy now, so you’re approaching him to consider his own choices. Talk through drinking too and how you see a healthy, careful introduction to alcohol might work over the next few years of his life as he reaches 18. He needs you as an ally and to see that you want to respect and support him to become the adult he’s going to be and meant to be.
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Gina_Gee
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Re: Sons friend a bad influence

Postby Gina_Gee » Mon Feb 27, 2023 11:38 am

Hi,

My eldest son turned 14 a while ago and since last summer I have been navigating my way through these sorts of challenges!  My advice would be not to tell your son he can't hang out with this boy, that could backfire for all the reasons you have mentioned.  Not only that, the harsh reality is (in my experience) it seems that alcohol does come into the mix around this age, perhaps not to a concerning level, but it appears to be a thing some of them are 'trying out'.  I have also been surprised to discover that it's not only the ones who are a bad influence, but also some of the lovely, sensible kids.  So the influence of your son being subjected to alcohol could possibly come from somewhere else at some stage anyway.

I have a fairly open relationship with my son, I'm not so naïve to think he tells me everything but there was an occasion where he had alcohol and subsequently opened up enough for me to get a clear understanding of how much of this sort of thing is going on.  He is a very sociable boy and when he is not busy with school and sport he tends to spend lot of time hanging out with friends, I allow him the freedom to go out but keep a close eye on him (we use life360) and he always has to tell me who he is with and where he is going, he knows that this is also for his own safety and that if anything happens to him, his phone dies or gets stolen (we know this is a problem in London), etc. it's absolutely vital that I know where he has been and with whom (of course this is also so that I can keep a check on who he is hanging out with).

That said, he does have a friend who appears to be what some might call a particularly bad influence and although we haven't said he can't hang out with him, I am always on high alert when he is with this friend and have, on occasion, not allowed him to go out when I know it's that crowd of boys. 

I think the best way forward is to ensure you have an open dialogue about drinking and making the right choices, etc. Try to ensure he is sensible and aware of the dangers associated with drinking when they don't have the maturity to deal with it (never mind the health aspects and the fact that it is just illegal - but these are 'rules' which sometimes they don't seem to care so much about, so it's important to make them understand all the other reasons too!).

Also, don't be afraid to bring it up with other parents who you are friends with so that you can collectively keep a check on things. I have found it very reassuring speaking to the parents of the boys who I know quite well (this is how I discovered that the subject of alcohol was entering into other conversations and broader friend groups). It also helps that my son knows that us and many of his friends' parents all feel the same way and that we are all on the same page!

I don't meant to alarm you by being so direct about the topic, I am just sharing my own experience with you. We all have a different way of parenting and I'm sure you will do what is right for your family.

Best of luck!
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Needcoffeenow
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Re: Sons friend a bad influence

Postby Needcoffeenow » Mon Feb 27, 2023 3:59 pm

I agree with the previous posters and would just add, having gone through this with three children, that it is worth taking the time to explain in a kind and supportive way how various types of drink can affect you. When there was an incident with one of my younger son’s friends swigging vodka for a dare (ended up in hospital) there was much hand-wringing from parents but at the same time a realisation that the kids really didn’t seem to realise how to assess the impact of different types of alcohol, that spirits were much stronger than wine, wine stronger than lager etc and what would be unsafe quantities etc. This will also give you an opportunity to show you understand the temptation and are living in the real world but also that you care.
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loopidoo
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Re: Sons friend a bad influence

Postby loopidoo » Mon Feb 27, 2023 4:33 pm

hi
Agree. Apart from the usual repeating stuff (as its a teenager) , I think you either step back now that you have said something, dealing with any difficulties as they arise (not as you think they might) or, you approach the conversation differently (as per last poster) which could seem helpful rather than judgmental.
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waltzer
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Re: Sons friend a bad influence

Postby waltzer » Mon Feb 27, 2023 4:51 pm

A very wise friend warned me against driving conversations about alcohol underground and I am so glad that I took her advice. They are going to experiment, best they do it knowing that they can call you if it all goes wrong v thinking that they will be in too much trouble if they do call you, that can go very wrong. Also, send them on a first aid course for teenagers, it will help them be prepared if they need to be and at some stage they will need to be prepared. 

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Renz
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Re: Sons friend a bad influence

Postby Renz » Fri Mar 10, 2023 6:30 pm

Thank you so much to you all. All of your responses have been so helpful for me.

@Gina_Gee - my son sounds very similar to yours and we have the same approach. I too am on high alert if I know he is going out with this boy. I would think my son probably has tried alcohol although he hasn't admitted it and as you say it is around this that they will experiment with it. I certainly did at that age!

I took the opportunity have an open conversation with him last week as he was going to a 'mini party' last weekend. I explained that if there was alcohol there he should make his own choices etc , I explained the different effects of different alcohol and how it can make us feel and gave some of my own experiences as an older teenager. I also reminded him that I am always here if anything went wrong and that he should never worry he is in trouble and to just call me. He was happy to listen to me which was good. I am glad I have approached it and intend to continue to be open about this.

Thanks so much everyone!!
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eb949013
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Re: Sons friend a bad influence

Postby eb949013 » Wed Mar 15, 2023 12:37 pm

It's so difficult, as they say 'you can't choose their friends' but I think its the right call to have had an open discussion with him. It seems the harsher the foot comes down the more kids want to push against you.

Sometimes these situations can be a blessing - have seen a lot of overly sheltered kids get to an independent age and 'over indulge' (to put it nicely) because they've been raised in a no discussion environment. 
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