Rabbi Shmuley Boteach
What do you do if your teenager starts hanging out with new friends who bring with them bad influences? What if your child starts dating someone you don't approve of?

Rabbi Shmuley says friends and significant others who are bad influences can ruin your child's life. He shares suggestions on how you can take a stand against this problem:

  • Lay down the law. Sit your child down and give him reasons why you don't approve of the person he is spending time with, Rabbi Shmuley says.
  • Ask your child to stop. Don't force your child to stop seeing the person you don't approve of—instead, ask her to stop, Rabbi Shmuley says. Tell her why you don't like her new friend's values. "Leave it to be their decision based on your conversation," he says.
  • Allow your child to date in groups. Dating at 14 or 15 is way too young, Rabbi Shmuley says. Instead, allow your teen to hang out in a mixed-sex group. "They are doing things [with] boys and girls; they are getting all of the pleasures of being exposed to the opposite sex but without the privacy that makes you begin to feel very uncomfortable," he says.
  • Keep your child and his date at your home. Instead of allowing your teen to go out one-on-one on a date with someone you don't approve of, Rabbi Shmuley says every other date should take place in your home. "The person they are dating will begin to understand that you frown on their influence, and they will try to behave better because they are in your presence," he says.
  • Be a camp counselor. Offer your children good, healthy activities as an alternative to going out with the wrong crowd—such as "board game night." "If you simply tell him, 'You can't go out,' and [say], 'I am going to keep you at home and not giving you anything better to do,' you are not channeling all of his prodigious energy into a more valuable outlet," he says. "You are simply suppressing his energy [and] that is where you invite rebellion."

Today's Shmuleyism
"A parent is not a friend, and a friend is never a substitute for a parent."
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