Show me your friends…

My son has reached the end of his primary school career and is starting high school next year. I remember our excitement on his first day at school and soon we’ll be sharing a similar experience with even more enthusiasm.

During his orientation at his new high school a few days ago we were informed that our kids will be going through some drastic changes over the next few years and we will hardly recognize the children we see today. There will be some experimentation, crossing boundaries, peer pressure and some downright disobedience and then some that we can expect. Had anyone told me this a year ago I would not have believe it. My son has been every mothers dream child and I used to joke with my friends and say that if he ever stepped out of line, even in the smallest way, I’d fall flat on my back.

Well I spent the most of this year on my back. My son turned into a typical teenage boy overnight. Had I not been given the opportunity to stay home I surely would have missed it. Even though I’m a very observant person by nature I know that my eyes would have missed it. The changes were subtle but it was frequent enough to set the alarm bells ringing. He’d become more outspoken and the boundary crossing as well as some disobedience started simultaneously. It took some arguments, reprimands and punishment to get him back on track. Ok maybe it wasn’t the sum total of all of my efforts to get a break through, but the fact that I actually sat him down (when I managed to calm down) and I explained the effects (in layman’s teen terms) of him acting out. Thankfully we came to an agreement and I’ve got my son back. He has also gained a mom who has accepted the fact that he’s entering the next phase of his life. One who is willing to work with him to reach his goals in life, all while trying to be more understanding. It’s gonna be difficult but I made a promise so I’ll have to back it up.

That bit covered, I noticed that his friends were all going through some metamorphosis too. The way they dress and the places they frequent when they’re not hanging out and filling out his room with XBox battles. Sadly the places they frequent are no longer the park in our road, but a shop front in the next road. Amongst their other friends are some pretty scaly kids. Now don’t get me wrong. In no way am I judging anyone’s kids but when I see what some of them are up to I need to keep in mind that I have a responsibility of showing my kids right from wrong and teaching them to be healthy individuals on all levels and not just physical health. The decisions are ultimately theirs to make I hope they would do so wisely.

Yesterday I had the ‘Show me your friends and I’ll tell you who you are’ chat with my son and explained how society labels people based on their associations with certain people and their friends. No matter how good a person you are, the moment you mix with some bad friends people will associate you as such. When you think of chain stores or football clubs you associate them with the attributes their brand consists of. The good ones always stand out and get lots of support while the ones with bad reputations gets remembered as the place, club or person you don’t want to support and they automatically get shunned. My son is one of those muso types so he could relate it to Chris Brown and his career path. Once a successful singer and an idol to many youngsters but ever since he got all tattooed and looks like a gangster in most of his videos some of his fans have lost interest. I’m not sure of the statistics of it all, but my kids have lost interest in his music and that’s enough for me to be able to illustrate the saying of ‘show me your friends’.

Having said this, I am a firm believer of not judging a book by it’s cover but we need to realise that our kids are easily influenced and when it comes to them we need to be vigilant and cover all bases. The best books I’ve read didn’t have the best covers and the worst of them always had the most enticing covers. It’s a bit touch and go with friends too. Sometimes you can’t rely on first reading a few pages to discover that it’s not the book for you and that is true for friendships and relationships. What I do know for sure is that I don’t want my son hanging out at a shop front regardless of whether he is one of the good kids.

Let’s hope that my son makes the right decision with minimal intervention from my side on that front.


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