Child Development - Play, Friends, and Really Weird Friends
There's no perfect way to do it. Some parents don't pay enough attention to who their children choose as friends, and some pay a little too much attention. We either don't care who they play with, or are so controlling that no one is good enough for our kid. Both are examples of bad parenting. There are distinct stages of child development; play is one of them, and how the child learns to interact with others. This is how they learn social skills and how they form opinions about how to choose their friends later in life.
Of course, if your child is at the age where they are allowed to take off with their friends for part of the day, you might want to be cautious. You don't know what kind of home in which the other child lives. Meet the parents of as many of your child's friends as you can, or do not allow them to go over to anyone's house without first meeting the parents. This rule will alleviate a lot of doubt. If your child's friends are just "weird," too bad, I'll bet some of your friends are considered weird, too. Weird never hurt anyone-dangerous does. Learn to tell the difference, and the best way to do that is to meet the parents. Also, there is something very cool about being the house all the kids want to come to after school and on the weekends; you could be making a very big difference in some of these kids' lives-and you know where your kid is. This is parenting with love and logic.
You're going to have to let your child choose their own friends. If you met the parents and the home scene seemed too much for you, let them play together during school. They are going to do that anyway, so it's best to pick your battles. If you want to make a difference to a kid, invite them to your house. Perhaps the way you parent will make an impression on the "bad" kids that your child chooses. Another tip is to take them places and hang out with them (although do not make this obvious!) Exposing them to different environments and child development activities could help change the "weird" kid's thinking.
Again, during child development, play is very important part of learning social skills. Your child needs to be exposed to different kinds of people. Keep your eye on them for safety reasons, not to make judgments and you will do just fine.
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