Ask the Experts—Questionable Friendships - MetroFamily Magazine
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Ask the Experts—Questionable Friendships

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This month’s question: My daughter has a friend that I believe is a horrible influence on her. How can I encourage her to seek out other friendships that would be more beneficial or supportive?

Devonne Carter, LCSW:

I would encourage you to keep your thoughts about your child’s friend to yourself. Some children will seek out friends you don’t want them to spend time with. When your child asks to spend time with her friends that you don’t approve of, just say ‘No.’ You don’t need to give her a reason, and I would encourage you not to justify anything. Try to schedule family time with people you feel would be a better influence on your daughter, people you want her to be friends with. If your family spends time with other families, your children will naturally gravitate toward those children even when you’re not around.

Devonne Carter, LCSW, is a Clinical Social Worker in private practice in Edmond. Contact her at 405-326-3923 or

Kristen Kuepker, M Ed.

When raising children, we hope that we have instilled a sense of character that will surface even when faced with difficult situations. If you think your daughter’s friend is not the best influence, try inviting her into your home, allowing the girls to hang out with your supervision. The other child may benefit from someone that is a good influence on her.
By supporting the friendship instead of condemning it, your daughter may be more apt to open up to you regarding struggles she is facing. Believe in your child and you give her the confidence to make the right decisions.

Kristen Kuepker, M Ed. is a Principal at Bryant Elementary, Moore Public Schools.

Donnie Van Curen M.A., LMFT:

If your daughter is 14 or older, recognize her ability to choose her friends. This isn’t to say that there are not repercussions for her choices, and there should be, but at some point she has to feel the freedom and responsibility to make her own decisions—otherwise she will not be prepared to live her own life down the road.
If you haven’t already, consider spending time with this friend. This may be difficult depending on the age of the girls, but find out what your daughter sees in this person. There may be something you have missed, either in the friend, or in your daughter and her role in the friendship. If anything, this will better prepare you for the next step.
Talk with your daughter. Explain the patterns or influences you see, and encourage her to be the leader in the relationship. This might be an optimum time to reflect on your own past and the relationships that affected you in a positive or negative way at her age. Also, take the time to encourage your daughter to have a wide variety of friendships instead of focusing on just one.

Donnie Van Curen M.A., LMFT is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist with Counseling 1820, LLC. Contact him at 405-823-4302 or

Tamara Walker, RN

Friendships are an important part of life but not all friendships are healthy or good for us. Start a conversation with your daughter about friendships in general by asking her what she likes about her friends. What qualities or character traits does she look for when deciding to be someone’s friend? What does she like about the friend in question? Why does she want to be friends with this person?

Understanding her reasons for the friendship may help you address your concerns about her friend’s behavior without putting her on the defensive. Teach her that a true friend will have her best interests at heart and would not want to lead her into trouble.
Sometimes its necessary for a parent to put an end to a child’s friendship with someone who is a bad influence. Ideally, try to convince your daughter to let go of the friendship on her own, after realizing it is not a healthy relationship. Then, she will have learned a valuable life lesson about choosing friends wisely in the future.

Tamara Walker RN is a talk show host and speaker in Edmond. Contact her at

Kevin Tutty, LCSW:

Social influences become more important than parental influence during the teenage years for many adolescents. The answer to this question would depend on the age of your daughter. If she is a preteen, you will definitely have more influence than if she is 15 or older. In either case, it can be counter-productive if you prohibit her from spending time with this friend; this could damage your relationship and reduce your level of influence with your daughter. How well do you know this friend’s parents? Try collaborating with your them about any concerns that you may share about your children’s behavior.

Kevin Tutty, LPC, is a Licensed Professional Counselor in private practice. Contact him at 405-431-6225.

Our readers respond:

  • A lot would depend on the age of your daughter. If you think she is old enough to understand, just sit her down and be honest with her about your concerns. If she isn’t old enough yet, then maybe limit her contact with that child and help her find activities to lead her to find new friends.
  • Why couldn’t you see if your daughter could be a good influence on the friend? It flows both ways. Perhaps you could find some supervised activities for your daughter and her friend to participate in. Also, it’s good for your daughter to expand her friendships. If you get your daughter into some activities, she’s sure to find other girls to relate to a bit differently. That would also take up some of the time spent with the first friend. If you force her to abandon her friend, it may backfire.
  • Things aren’t always what they seem; the child you may think is a bad influence might be a supportive friend, and you must consider that it could be your own child, other children in their group of friends or even just the two of them together that might come up with some poor choices. Spend time with your daughter and her friend and be supportive of positive choices. Young girls always benefit from a positive influence, so do your best to model positive behavior to the girls.

Thanks to Kami M., Juli S. and Rachel R. for your feedback.

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