Like so many other things parents desire for their children, helping your child build healthy relationships with friends starts with parents and caregivers. Model for your child the right way to order relationships: Every relationship should encourage and challenge us to grow in holiness. To do so, friendships should be rooted in love and respect for the other person as a child of God and, when possible, a shared desire to live according to God’s Will.
Encourage your child to participate in activities they enjoy. This is a great way to meet new people who share their interests. Providing opportunities for your child to make friends in more than one setting can be especially helpful if he or she has a disagreement with someone, so they still have other peers to connect with.
As a parent, you want the best for your child. You want them to be happy and healthy, and you want them to have good friends. But what if your child is struggling to make friends? Or what if they seem to be getting into trouble with one person or group?
First, talk to your child about the meaning of friendship to help them understand what makes a good friend and how to be a good friend. Naturally, they may feel strongly for their close friends, but understanding and setting boundaries helps protect these relationships from disorder/disruption. Having a heart-to-heart conversation with your child about what makes a good friend can open the door for asking him or her if a particular person or group is treating others the way a good friend should treat people.
In some cases, the best course of action after having a heart-to-heart conversation may be to give your child space to work through their issues with their friends without your intervention. If your child is being physically, verbally, or spiritually abused, contact the proper authorities immediately.
If you're still concerned about your child's friendships, talk to their doctor, a priest/pastoral caretaker, or a mental health care professional. They can offer additional support and guidance.
Want to learn more?
Learn more about Fruitful Conversations
Learn more about Bullying
Learn more about Modeling Behaviors
Learn more about Sexual Education