Friends with piercings
Gulp. My daughter’s new friend was not to my taste.

Some time ago, my then 16-year-old daughter had a new friend to stay for the weekend. The visitor was elaborately pierced (ears, tongue, eyebrow, navel) and had berserk hair. She stared unnervingly into my eyes as she asked me, ‘Can I smoke inside?’

On the Saturday afternoon I discovered some money was missing from my purse. Since my bag had been sitting on the kitchen counter for much of the day, I couldn’t pinpoint the thief. But I had my suspicions.
Which were strengthened later when my daughter mentioned, casually, that the visitor – let’s call her Chantal – seemed to ‘always have money’ but no visible means of getting it (she was a boarder at my kids’ school; her parents live in another province). Hm.

When my daughter and her new friend asked if they could go out that night my immediate response was to say no – and not only because I suspected the interloper would be spending ill-gotten gains for their evening’s entertainment.

My daughter was amazed. ‘Why not?’ she asked – a fair question, since it was a Saturday night and usually I give her a fair bit of latitude on the weekends.

I wanted to say, ‘Because I don’t like your new friend and I think she’s a bad influence and I’m worried she’ll get you into all sorts of trouble.’

But of course I couldn’t. So I said instead, ‘Because I’m your mother and I said so.’

My daughter stared at me in disbelief. ‘I told Chantal you were cool and now you’re just being a bitch!’ she shouted, and stormed off to her room.

Chantal gave me a nasty smirk and followed.

What do you do when your kids hook up with friends you don’t like? For teenagers, their choice of friends is very important: their friends reflect their burgeoning inner selves, tell other people who they are (or are trying to be), give them a sense of belonging.

As parents, do we have a right to ‘trim’ our kids’ friendship lists? If so, by how much? What are the criteria? And what if we’re just bringing our own bigotries to bear (if you’re white, is it okay with you for your daughter to have a black boyfriend? If you’re Muslim, would you be comfortable allowing your son to stay over for the weekend in a Christian household?)?

Incidentally, my daughter fell out with Chantal a few days later for reasons she’s never told me, and she’s never been mentioned again. Obviously, I like to think she made a sensible choice.

What have you done when your kids hooked up with friends you didn't like?

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Hail the non-nuclear family!


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