Stop judging my friends
By CECILIA A. TUCKER
© St. Petersburg Times
published March 11, 2002
First of two parts
I am so frustrated with the way my parents and other adults judge my friends. My parents lecture me all the time about some of the friends I choose. When my parents and other adults in my life discuss my friends, they seem to work together trying to destroy any friendship I have figured out a way to make. What gives them the right to choose my friends anyway?
Why do they think they have the perfect criteria for deciding which person is or is not going to be successful in life? Funny, huh? It appears to me some adults have not always done so well in choosing the people in their lives, either. Otherwise, I think there would be fewer divorces and less conflict overall in the adult world.
The really bad news, though, is that while I am not in charge of their choices, they seem to think it is their right to give me advice about the people in my life. I know parents and other adults want me to learn from their mistakes but, frankly, I would rather learn from my own mistakes.
It doesn't seem to matter to them that the world I live in is very different from the one they grew up in. I don't have a neighborhood where everyone knows each other and we are all friendly. I know a few people on my block, but that doesn't mean I see them as people I could or would count on if I were in trouble. It is not that I think they don't care; I just don't know them very well.
I don't hang out with other people my age who live near my house because people seem to move frequently, so why bother? Truthfully, the other teenagers in my neighborhood are not people I choose to hang with because they bore me! I am not interested in talking to them, going to their houses or even trying to find things we may have in common. Often we don't even go to the same school, so why would I want to be friends with someone I will only see a few hours each week?
I see my friends at school five days a week, and it makes sense they will be the people I hang out with and they will have the greatest influence on me. I don't see my parents choosing neighborhood friends, either. They usually make friends with people at work or in activities they are involved in.
This seems to be where the conflict between us gets out of control. My parents can't meet all the friends I have, and so they don't know what kind of home life and values my friends have. Can't my parents just trust me? Can't they trust their parenting skills enough to believe they have raised a responsible person? I guess not!
Just because they hear bad things about some of my friends doesn't mean all of us are doing bad things. Why do my parents only think the "bad" will rub off onto the "good" kids? Is there ever a time the "good" teenagers influence the "bad" ones? I guess my parents believe there is little chance of that, because this subject is what the majority of our fights are about.
We argue a lot about my friends. I wish they weren't such an issue with my parents! Why does it have to be this way?
Next: Trust me to choose my own friends.
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IT! (Private thoughts of the Indomitable Teen) is written by Cecilia Tucker under the editorial guidance of a panel of teenagers (in exchange for pizza and volunteer hours). Tucker is a licensed marriage and family therapist at the Counseling Center for New Direction in Seminole. Comments are welcome. You may write c/o: IT!, Xpress, the Times, P.O. Box 1121, St. Petersburg, FL 33731, or e-mail Floridian@sptimes.com. If you are interested in being on the teen editorial panel, please contact Cecilia Tucker at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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