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Ask Rosalind 2008

August 2008 Q. My 15-year-old daughter has older friends who drive, and she wants to go out with them on the weekends. What do you think?

A. I wish we lived in a world where we would tell our kids "Don't drive with your friends," and they'd always abide by our rules. But I wouldn't be much of an advice columnist if I believed that. So what to do? Make your guidelines clear: "You can get a ride from your friends after practice but not to or from a party. If someone is driving and talking on her cell phone or changing songs on her iPod, tell her to stop talking or volunteer to look for the song. And I know you know this, but the second you get in the car, your seat belt is on."

Q. How can I talk my 12-year-old daughter into attending a neighborhood pool party? She's refusing to go because her friends are more developed than she is.

A. Can we give her a break just this once and let her skip the party? It's not like there won't be a slew of other situations like it in her future. I think 12 is such a tender time, when girls are constantly comparing themselves with one another. When you add bathing suits, boys, and a pool party to the mix, it's that much worse. Instead of forcing her to go, give her credit for talking to you about her feelings and let her stay home.

Q. My grandson is almost 14 years old and has a best friend who doesn't let him have any other friends. Is there anything we can do?

A. When adults come to me with questions like this one, I need to know how they're getting their information. If your concerns are based on direct observation of the teen or he has approached you for advice, that's one thing. But if the info is from a secondhand source, go back to your grandson before you proceed. As the grandmother, you're in a unique position to give comfort and advice because you love him to death while being one step removed. First, ask him to list his friendship must-haves -- the characteristics he values most, like trust, loyalty, and honesty. Now have him describe his friend and compare his experiences with his requirements. If they align, then he's in good shape. If they don't, he needs to think about why he's in a friendship that goes against his needs and he has to decide what he wants to do about it. Throughout, you are his guide, posing questions and helping him develop thoughtful answers. Keep in mind he may not end an unhealthy friendship immediately after a single conversation with you. But having ongoing interactions like this empowers kids to make healthy decisions.

Rosalind Recommends

I'm always encouraging parents of every faith to show their kids how their religious values translate into everyday life, which is why I'm a fan of the new magazine KidSpirit. It was created by and for 11- to 15-year-olds of all traditions. It challenges them to use spiritual concepts to examine their culture. View sample articles and subscribe at www.kidspiritmagazine.com.

Originally published in the August 2008 issue of Family Circle magazine.

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