Ep. 52 – Tyler, Age 12: Friend‘s parents don’t like him

Winning over adults

Kids Ask Dr. Friendtastic
Kids Ask Dr. Friendtastic
Ep. 52 – Tyler, Age 12: Friend‘s parents don’t like him
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Scroll down for DISCUSSION QUESTIONS & TRANSCRIPT

Think About It Questions

  • Have you ever tried to change how someone (kid or adult) views you? What happened? Why do you think reputations can be hard to change? 
  • Why is it a good idea to try to get along well with your friends’ parents? 
  • What are some ways that kids can show they are being respectful toward adults?
  • Which of your friends do your grown-ups like the most? Why?
  • When you make a mistake, why do you think it’s important to think honestly about what you did wrong? (Hint: What does that enable you to do?)

Transcript

Welcome! I’m Dr. Eileen Kennedy-Moore, also known as Dr. Friendtastic. I’m an author and clinical psychologist based in Princeton, NJ.

Let’s listen to today’s question:

Hi, my name is Tyler. I'm 12 years old. And how do I make my friend’s parents like me? Because they don't.

Hi, Tyler. Thanks for your question! This is a tricky one. On the one hand, getting along well with a friend’s parents is important because it makes it easier to get together with that friend. On the other hand, we can’t control what other people think, and reputations can be hard to change. 

But let’s think about what you can do. Your first job is to figure out what might have happened to give your friend’s parents a bad impression of you. It’s possible that the parents just have a general dislike of “kids like you,” whatever that means, but my guess is that maybe you made a mistake. 

We all make mistakes sometimes. The important thing is what happens next.

Now, there are two kinds of mistakes that tend to bother a friend’s parents. The first type of mistake is doing something that the parents find disrespectful of them or their home. Maybe you joked about something they didn’t find funny. Maybe you didn’t listen or talked back when they asked you to do something. Maybe you broke something or made a mess that made them think, “Oh, he’s trashing our stuff!” 

Or, maybe what they saw as disrespectful was really just a mismatch between how your family does things and how their family does things. For instance, at your home, maybe it’s fine to open the fridge and just see what’s there, but doing the same thing at someone else’s home could come across as rude and intrusive. 

The other kind of mistake that can get a friend’s parents riled is if you did something that hurt their child. If you got their child in trouble, they might think you’re a bad influence. If you upset your friend, they might think you’re unkind. 

If you have no idea why the parents dislike you, you may want to ask your friend what the problem is and what you could do differently.

Thinking about what you did wrong is uncomfortable. You might feel guilty or embarrassed, but honestly trying to imagine things from the parents’ point of view is an important step toward getting along better with them. If you can figure out what you did wrong, that means you can be in charge of trying to make things right. 

A sincere apology is often the fastest way to repair a relationship. Even if it’s been awhile since the mistake, a sincere apology can signal a fresh start.

You may want to try a written apology because that can hold extra weight with adults, and it can be an easier way to get your point across. Say, “I’m sorry for…” then say exactly what you did. No excuses. Next, say what you’re going to do to make things right. If you broke something, you could offer to fix or replace it. Or, you could say, “From now on, I’ll be careful to…” whatever it is you’re going to do. 

Whether or not you apologize, the most important thing to do is to move forward in positive ways. Avoid doing the things that bother them and try to be extra polite to the parents and extra kind to your friend. 

Your friend’s parents probably won’t change their mind about you right away, but over time, if you’re consistently kind and polite, you might be able to ease their concerns. And if you don’t, at least you’ll know that you tried to do the right thing.

This has been Kids Ask Dr. Friendtastic. If you have a question about making and keeping friends that you’d like me to answer, go to DrFriendtastic.com, and click on the podcast tab to see how to submit your question. 

Do you want to learn even more about friendship? Check out my funny and practical books for kids: Growing Friendships: A Kids’ Guide to Making and Keeping Friends, and my new book, Growing Feelings: A Kids’ Guide to Dealing with Emotions About Friends and Other Kids. They’re available through your library or wherever you buy books.

OR find them on your favorite podcast platform!