Rabbi Shmuley believes it's your responsibility to monitor who your child is friends with and to step in if you think your child has a "bad" friend—someone who is controlling, doesn't share your family's core values and is changing your child's attitude and behavior for the worse. Rabbi Shmuley talks about what you can do as a parent to guide your child if you determine he's spending too much time with a bad friend.
- Talk to your child. Remind him that people shouldn't have so much power over him that they change who he is, Rabbi Shmuley says.
- Limit the amount of time your child can spend with the bad friend. Also, don't hesitate to cut your child off from the friend entirely if you think it's necessary, Rabbi Shmuley says. "If you think they're bad together, that's it."
- Don't cave. Anticipate that your child isn't going to be happy about this. "But you have to bear with it," Rabbi Shmuley says. "They're going to complain, but you have to get through that time."
- Be prepared for a confrontation. If the bad friend's parent gets involved, Rabbi Shmuley says to calmly explain that it's both your child and theirs who don't interact well together and that you'd rather they don't spend time together anymore.
- Give your child a positive replacement. Help your child find new and better friends through after-school activities or by introducing him to other circles of people, Rabbi Shmuley says.
- Encourage your children to spend more time with their family. "They might complain, but down the road, they'll be glad they're close to their brothers and sisters," says Rabbi Shmuley. "Friends move away, but siblings will be there for you forever."
"After parents, friends are the most important influence on our children's lives. It's therefore incumbent upon us to make sure our children aren't being negatively influenced by so-called 'friends.' We have to negate the toxicity that can come from bad friends by ensuring that our kids are with children we approve of, whose parents also safeguard the influences that enter their lives."