View Full Version : How are you navigating new friends?

04-13-2016, 05:38 PM
My DD is in 7th grade. I used to know ALL her friends and their families when she was in elementary school. Now she wants to go to someone's house---someone I've never met, certainly not her parents. Last year, she was okay with me telling her she can't go because I don't know the family, etc. Now, I'm starting to think maybe I should let the apron string slack off a bit. I "stalked" the other girl's Instagram account, :bag I plan on speaking to the parents before I drop DD off. Anything else I should do?

How are you navigating this unchartered waters? Any and all *kind* input appreciated.

Thank you!!!!

04-13-2016, 07:58 PM
It honestly hasn't been a concern of mine. He's in a k-8 school but his social group has expanded. I pretty much just drop him off and wave. When I collect him, I talk to the parents.

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04-13-2016, 08:11 PM
My DD is also in 7th grade. The school has 5 elementary schools that feed into it so there are quite a few new friends that we don't know. Honestly, I just trust that if there's an issue at a friends house she'll call me or tell me when I pick her up. I am not inherently suspicious of others, we live in a relatively small city and at her age I feel she has developed good judgement and is open with me. It really isn't feasible to get to know parents like it was when they were little. My kids have quite a bit of freedom (I'm one of the few parents I think on the BBB that don't have the internet on lockdown compared to all of my IRL friends who I feel are responsible, well educated parents and don't have restricted access to the internet for their kids). Trust your instincts, and also keep lines of communication open, and let her know she can always call you if she needs to come home (and she can always just tell the friend she isn't feeling well, cramps etc).

04-13-2016, 09:18 PM
DS1 is in 6th. I ask him about the friend, but that's about it. I give him our extra cell phone to take with him so he can call if needed. Otherwise, I trust he'll be fine or tell me afterwards what was weird or uncomfortable.

04-13-2016, 10:11 PM
I'm more cautious than many of you.

DS1 is very behind socially. It isn't so much that he's awkward, as he's terrible about managing himself in social situations. So I'm concerned that he'll engage in inappropriate behavior because he doesn't know how to say no correctly, or how to disagree or how not to turn it into something huge. He's 12 and in 6th grade and I'm sure some 6th graders would be just fine with a lot more independence but I would say DS1 is several years behind his peers in this one aspect. It is one reason that I'm looking into further neuropsych testing this year because I'm not sure that ADHD covers all of this social awkwardness.

The things I'm concerned about include exposure to drugs or alcohol, pornography, guns. I'm worried about kids engaging in cyber bullying. Yes, I might sound paranoid but kids in 7th grade did similar things (based on our tech level, lol) when I was that age 30 years ago so I'm under no illusions that it doesn't exist today.

I realize that at some point he'll need to have more freedom and independence and I'm fairly certain I'll be able to feel when that time comes. I do think that we need to teach our kids to be independent before they leave the house!

04-13-2016, 11:16 PM
This is happening with my DD, who is in sixth grade. I said no to a sleepover with a new friend in the fall because I have never met the family or the kid. Last week I did allow DD to go to another firl's house after school. I emailed the mom to make sure an adult would be there after school and then just tried to relax about it. It was fine. For now I plan to say no to sleepovers unless I know the parents well.

04-15-2016, 10:36 AM
I don't let DD have sleepovers with kids I have not met or where I don't know the parents. That is my main rule. I do trust my DD a lot in terms of friend choices. Middle school is a shift because the kids have newfound freedom and they start to break the rules and suddenly think it is cool to do so.

My DD is in 6th grade and still I find it important to check in with parents about plans.

04-17-2016, 03:25 PM
I think it's a good question, and the answer may seem illogical. Rationally, if you are concerned about parents/families/environments you don't know at younger ages, logically, you should hold the same standards at older ages. But the reality is, you can't. You just don't have the same closeness to peer groups and fellow school families at older grades as you did in elementary school, and your kids are naturally and appropriately meeting new people and expanding their world.

So, tips to help manage that:

1. I try to make sure I am involved at one end of pick up or dropoff, and I am likely to try and go to the door, meet the parents, eyeball the house. It's not much, but it's something. I'm not 100%, but I try.
2. A neighbor asked me if I knew the family of a new girl at school who had invited her daughter (and mine) for a sleepover, and I could answer her questions. So you can recruit known friends to see if they can give some information about new families. A lot of times, this is nothing more than "They seem like my kind of people" (which can be meaningless) but at least it's something.
3. I sometimes have DH do a pickup or dropoff if I have otherwise been solely involved in the communication. I do this so the other family knows both parents are involved and so that the dad might see the other dad face-to-face, and in what I hope is a sign that this is a not an easy child or family to prey on. I have no idea if this is nonsense or valid, but I do it.
4. A tip from a coworker who has older teenagers... be the one who picks up your child and friends after a party or dance. That's when the kids will be excited, talking, and reviewing the evening, and if you listen in the background, you'll learn the most about peer relationships and what is going on in your child's environment.
5. Chaperone your older kid's school events. I have only done this once so far, but it helped me start to know some names and faces of kids (and a few other chaperones) at the new school my daughter is at.
6. Re-iterate the key messages you want to get across to your kids: call me if you are uncomfortable, say you need to use the phone if you don't have a cell phone with you/charged/whatever, you dont' have to be friends with someone you don't like, you can create distance by XYZ, I don't want you at houses when parents aren't there/at coed parties, etc. Whatevver your core messages are.

DD2 was just at a sleepover last night of a family I know pretty well; we carpool every week and she's been to sleepovers there before. They are a very casual family and there was no clear pickup time from the party, and I ended up arriving for pickup over an hour after I think the other guests had been picked up. DD2 seemed very tired, both physically and emotionally from the birthday girl who is a very over-the-top, often irritating girl. DD1 had clearly had enough, and it affected her all day Saturday. I keep wondering why DD1 didn't call me, and I realize I have to clearly go over with her that she can always do that, I would have come quicker, and that she does not have to be at the mercy of something pre-arranged if someone or something is bothering her a lot.

04-17-2016, 04:28 PM
Reading this five minutes after a new friend was picked up from swimming at our house. 6th grade girls. Agree it's no longer realistic to know the parents and around here everyone seems to be comfortable with that. I do reiterate periodically that DD can always text to be picked up earlier. Easier than calling as no one will know she asked.

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04-19-2016, 12:31 AM
A lot of great advice here. Thank you ladies!!! :bowdown: