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Best Friend, or Worst?
Q: My husband and I are having a serious problem with my eleven-year-old son. Up until this year he had been on the honor roll at his school. This year the best grade he has received has been a "C". He has one friend that we feel is influencing him negatively. The first time my son's grades dropped we grounded him and took away all of his privileges including any contact with this boy. My son's grades started to go back up and he seemed to be interested in school again. When we allowed him to have contact with his friend, we started seeing the downward pattern. His friend is not a rude or aggressive child, but he doesn't seem to have any positive influences in his life. Should my husband and I have my son give up his friendship with this boy permanently?
A: Talk with your son about what you have observed since the friendship resumed. If your son wants to continue the friendship with the other boy, give him one week to show his previous effort with his school work. Let him know that if things do not improve, he will not be allowed to be friends with the boy.
If you feel that you can make a difference in the other boy's life, give it a try. Invite him to your home to spend time with you, or include him in a family outing. You could possibly be the positive influence that he needs.
You may believe that this is not your role and that your son should stop being friends with the other boy. If so, talk with the school counselor about your concerns. He may be able to work with the boy and his family to help them make some improvements in his situation.
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Barbara Potts has worked as an elementary school counselor for many years. She has a BA in psychology from Wake Forest University, and an M.Ed. in Guidance and Counseling from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.