As the parenting process nears the finish line, the single mom finds that she has less influence on the life of the teenager than the friends do. If the friends are welcome in the home, she has a better chance of finding out just what type of kids they really are. Unfortunately, the cost of keeping the refrigerator and snack cupboard will be escalated, but we have to remember that nothing in life is free.
Teenagers don’t talk about their friends. Well, they don’t gossip about their friends to mom, anyway. The single mom usually considers herself lucky if she is familiar with the names of her teenagers friends, let alone know anything about what type of influence the friend is having on her child. If your teen doesn’t bring friends around, maybe it’s time that you give them reasons to invite them over for a meal.
Don’t be surprised if the teen rejects the first attempt for you to meet friends. The teenager is going through a normal phase of having their own life. They are establishing their independence and their own identity. They may also be trying to avert any judgment of their friends by you.
You, as the parent, still have options. If your teen asks for permission to do something special with a friend, insist that you meet the friend before the special permission is given. Give your teen a date and time to invite the friend over for a meal, and ask for input on the menu. Eating together will give you an opportunity to learn a little bit about the friendship. It will also give your teenager a chance to learn a little more about the friend by seeing the person through your eyes.
Be careful about showing disapproval about the friend over the dinner. Afterward, unless you feel that the friend could be a dangerous influence on your teenager, refrain from making negative comments. This will only put your child into a position of having to defend the friend out of loyalty.
As your teenager and the friend realize that your home is an open and safe place for them, they will relax and give you an added glimpse into the life of the child you have raised. This may be one of the few opportunities you have to really get to know a teenager who responds to your questions with shrugs and grunts.