Am I Too Picky With Who My Teen is Friends With?

We try our best not to be biased. But here are signs that we may be when it comes to who our teens are friends with.

We want our teens to grow up with good friends. As parents, it’s good to have a standard. We don’t want our kids hanging out with the “wrong crowd” or bad influences. But sometimes, our prejudices and biases show even based on looks. Although not explicitly, Filipinos can be quite discriminating. From skin color to language, we treat our teen’s friends differently based on our standards.

Why are we picky about who our teen becomes friends with?

“It’s not about what you can do. It’s about who you know” or “May kilala siya kasi.” — many of us are aware of this harsh reality. It’s why we have all these networking events and the sort. While we do have the genuine desire to build a connection, there’s also a sense of pragmatism in networking. We become friends with CEOs because, who knows? As mompreneurs, we see them as a potential investor. As regular moms, we see them as people who can pull strings.

We apply the same concept to our teens. When our teens become friends with someone who doesn’t reach our standards, we forcibly wear a horseshoe in our mouths to offer at least some decency and hospitality.

How We Normally Judge Our Teen’s Friends

We usually judge our teen’s friends based on the following criteria: (even if we don’t explicitly say it!)

  • How they greet us – Do they just say “hi” or “hello”? Or do they actually say “Good morning/afternoon/evening?” To many of us, which greeting they use matters.
  • Use of “po” – Some of us are quite strict with the use of “po“. Other families however find it unnecessary and prefer a simple “Good morning/afternoon/evening”.
  • Addressing us with “ma’am/sir” – Yes, it sounds corporate but some families do judge with that. Calling them “tita/tito/auntie/uncle” straight away sounds rude to some because they think the teen is being “too familiar” with them.
  • Their sense of fashion – We’ve gone to Greenhills and Divisoria tiangges enough times to spot from a mile away what a genuine LV bag is from a fake knock-off. To us, it’s a sign of financial status.
  • Their manner of speech – Taglish may be widely accepted but a lot still see speaking Taglish as a “lack of intelligence and mastery of both languages”. But even straight Filipino speakers and straight English speakers have their discrimination, too.
  • Skin color – We say we’re not racist but many Filipinos still have hateful views of those with dark skin.

Unfortunately, these are what affect our first impressions. And you know what they say, “First impressions stick.”

Our Criteria are not Fool-Proof

While it does weed out some of the bad influences, our calls about our teen’s friends aren’t always right. Being rich doesn’t mean they have a good moral compass. Their skin color doesn’t measure their wisdom and intelligence. And their way of dressing doesn’t always reflect their true financial status and who they know. Class, etiquette, and breeding are not based on looks but on how they carry what they have.

How can we get rid of our discrimination?

It’s hard but eventually learning more about our teens’ friends does lessen our discrimination. While their friends may have some quirks here and there, it’s better to judge how happy and healthy your teen is. Some signs to take note of would be a change of routine, their responses, and even their grades might be good measures. Every member in your teen’s barkada has a role and stereotype that helps each member grow.

Trust in our teen to make the friends they need

Trusting our teen to make the right friends or the ones who will help them is part of the process of letting go. It may be difficult to acknowledge that they’re growing up but it’s part of life. It’s this part that makes parenting a teen so dreadful because we’re wondering if we taught them well enough to live and survive. We have to accept that our role in our teen’s life will need to change. But that’ll be a story left for another time.

Handling teens and their friends?

The “Mom” Friend: Every Mom’s Favorite In Their Teens’ Barkada
How To Stop Our Gamer Kids’ and Teens’ Rage
Why Parenting A Teen Sometimes Feels Like A Fight For Control

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