During the transition from girlhood to adolescence, teens find themselves in and out of many friendship groups. Sometimes friendships are formed from being in the same club or sports team; other times friendships emerge as girls explore new identities. Teens are trying to figure out a lot of things during adolescence. One of the most important questions girls are exploring is simply “Who am I?” In pursuit of an answer to this question, girls may experiment with friend groups, clothing styles, interests and more. Many parents worry when watching their young teen begin this process of identity exploration, uncertain about the implications of all these new choices and influences. What do you do when you see your teen enter into friendships that you have reservations about?
The Los Angeles Times offers parents a starting guide for understanding their teen’s friendships and what to do if you are unsure about them. Independence-seeking and developing an identity separate from one's family is an important part of adolescence, and friendship groups are a key part of this process. Perhaps nothing seems more important to a teen than her friendships. When parents are concerned about a particular friendship or friend group, guidance and dialogue are often much more effective than attempting to end a friendship. Setting reasonable guidelines for when, where and how social interactions take place help you set parameters around friendships without infringing on your teen's desire to foster new relationships.
Collaborating with your teen to monitor emerging friendships allows you to stay involved and informed while granting your teen increasing autonomy to make her own choices in social relationships, which is a skill she will need as she grows up in our social world.