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If your parents don’t like your friends

Teen girl with bleached hair and makeup.

It can be common for parents/guardians and teens to run into conflict about friendships. Parents/guardians sometimes worry that their teen is hanging out with the wrong crowd.

What are some reasons parents/guardians give for not liking their teen’s friends?
What can a teen do if her parents/guardians don’t like her friend(s)?
Can you explain how a social worker might help in this situation?
How can my friends get along better with my parents?
What if my parents forbid me from seeing a friend?

What are some reasons parents/guardians give for not liking their teen’s friends? arrow top

Parents/guardians may be concerned about things like drugs, alcohol, sex, skipping school, missing curfew, body piercings, or tattoos. Some parents/guardians may think body piercings and tattoos are signs of other behaviors, like drinking or smoking.

It can be common for parents/guardians and teens to run into conflict about friendships. Parents/guardians sometimes worry that their teen is hanging out with the wrong crowd.

What can a teen do if her parents/guardians don’t like her friend(s)? arrow top

It depends on the type of relationship the teen has with her parents/guardians.

Some parents/guardians and teens can talk to each other and work through problems. Both parties trust each other and they know that they can work through things. In this case, the teen can sit down and talk with her parents/guardians and try to work things out.

Sometimes, the relationship is already strained. In this case, it can be helpful to bring in an outside person to help resolve things or mediate. This could be a school counselor, school social worker, clergy member, family doctor, therapist, mentor, coach, or favorite aunt.

Can you explain how a social worker might help in this situation? arrow top

Sure. Let’s say Sue is having problems with her parents because they don’t like her friend Mary Jean. Sue has a good relationship with her school social worker, so she tells her what’s going on. The social worker may help Sue clarify her thinking, so she sounds as thoughtful and reasonable as possible when she talks to her parents. Or he or she may help Sue think through how to present her ideas and have Sue role play talking to her parents. Or the social worker may bring Sue and her parents together and serve as a mediator.

Source: This advice comes from Frederic Reamer, PhD, professor of social work at Rhode Island College, Providence.

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Social worker.What is a social worker?
A social worker is a professional who helps people through tough times in their lives.

What is a mediator? 
A mediator is an outside person who helps people work through fights.

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How can my friends get along better with my parents? arrow top

If you want your parents to like your friends, it might help for them to get to know one another. Encourage your friends to say ‘Hello, how are you?’ to your parents when they come over. Arrange for your friends to eat dinner at your house so that your parents and friends can talk. Even if your best friend looks scary on the outside — perhaps she has facial piercings? — if your parents and your friend talk, your parents may discover she’s an interesting and creative person.

Set a good example when you meet your friends’ parents by looking the adults in the eye and speaking politely.

What if my parents forbid me from seeing a friend? arrow top

Your parents may be trying to protect you. They are probably trying to keep you safe. While it may be hard to understand, remember that your parents have many years of experience and can see things differently from you. Try talking to your parents about their concerns. They may not change their minds, but being honest with one another is the best option.

For more tips on talking with your parents, read Talking to Your Parents — Or Other Adults.

 

Content last reviewed September 22, 2009
Page last updated October 31, 2013

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office on Women's Health.

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