Teenagers Hanging Around With A Bad Crowd

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    Is there anything that a parent could do about teenage boys hanging around with boys that are at risk, apart from locking them in the house. A friend came to me for advice after going to their rav but did not get the proper guidance and I am not sure what I should tell her. Any advice?


    There is always a reason why teenagers move in that direction and it is usually because THAT crowd accepts them while the crowd their parents want them to be with for some reason is not as accepting or understanding. The crowd they are moving towards is offering them something they are in need of at the moment. So there is something going on with them right now.

    Ask your friend what changes she has seen in her son lately. Ask her what is going on with him lately. Tell her to find out from his teachers, friends and Rebbeim quietly if they noticed any changes or if there is something she should know.


    Getting him interested in a particular subject/hobby etc that can take his time (and perhaps now hang out with a better crowd) without telling him to stop seeing the other boys… just letting it naturally happen…


    Invite all the teens over for games & food.

    Take them all to pizza, bowling, etc.

    You (or your friend) might actually understand why your friend’s child is missing in their life that they feel the need to hang out.


    Invite them to your house. There is a limited amount of trouble they could get into with your supervision.

    Listen to your children. Talk to them. Find out why they like these particular kids.

    The boys may not actually be bad, just misunderstood.


    Give them something equally as exciting to do. Take him out to a ballgame, arcades, etc.


    When a child matures from childhood to teenage years, the parents’ job changes from management to sales. You can no longer force them to do the right thing, you have to convince them to want to do the right thing.

    Not knowing the exact situation, it’s very difficult to give specific advice. But as a general rule, you don’t want to force issues — doing so will only drive the teen further away. You may not be able to convince the teen to dump his friends, but you might be able to influence him not to take on their worst habits. You have to hope that he’s learned enough to resist peer pressure to do things that are very wrong.

    Let’s face it — there are things that every teen will do that parents don’t agree with. You have to learn to pick and choose your battles. If you fight your teen over every little issue, not only will your teen resent it, but s/he will not be able to distinguish between the stuff that you are willing to negotiate on and the stuff that is simply over the line. You have to give your teen the ability to explore and find his own identity — even if it means some rebellion. All teens do it and it’s perfectly normal.

    Bottom line: don’t lock him in the house and don’t forbid him from seeing his friends — it won’t work and will probably make matters worse. Instead, try working with him to make him know what’s important to you (and by important, I don’t mean every issue — I mean the REALLY important issues). And, above all else, make sure that you keep open lines of communication so that your teen always feels comfortable coming to you — no matter how much trouble s/he may be in.

    The Wolf (parent of three current teens)


    Suggest the parents spend time with the boy. This applies to both father and mother, but should be done separately, as not all activities are suitable for the parents as a pair (mom may like mall outings, father may like eating out.

    On the subject of eating out, don’t suggest places that he is likely to be seen by his friends. Splurge for a $35-50 meal and take him to a place that shows him he is worth it. (I did it, and it opened my kid like a book.)

    And the worst thing you can say to a kid like this is “think about what people will say when they see you with friends like that.”

    Instead, focus on “will these friends help you achieve the goals you have for yourself?” This builds his self esteem, which is most likely not great right now.

    And remember: they are not “bad kids”; they are kids doing bad things. Big difference, and it should be stressed.


    I have teenage boys in high school and hear all kind of stories about different crowds (from them). And, no, it’s not a loshon hora. Boruch Hashem, we enjoy open relationship and they know I will not judge them (or their friends) whatever they would tell me. They actually occasionally come to me for an advise on how to deal with this or that social, spiritual or other issue – the fact that many parents find hard to believe.

    Now, we all want to be the authoritative figure in our children’s lives. What we don’t realize is that we don’t have to distance ourselves from them to achieve this result. We are already in a position of power as we were since their birth. As we will be until they will be able to provide for themselves.

    My advice to your friend is to BEFRIEND her son, show her willingness to be his best friend. Only from a position of trust she can hope to help him. As his friend she should find it easy to ask him, what is it that he likes about these boys, what do they do when they “hang around,” listen without judging (and remember, judging can be in your facial expression, not only in words) explain to him why she considers these kids to be “at-risk,” openly discuss the fact that his choice of friends bothers her.

    This advice is general. I would need to know much more about the family, the age (or is it ages) of the boy (boys) to say something concrete.



    This is what Rabbi Finkel here in Chicago reccomends in these situations. If the parents are ready to listen and make the neccesary adjustments, the parents should invite him to a discussion. Ask the following question, “We are concerned that you are good friends with a crowd that makes poor decisions. This is not something we advocated and brought you up with. We are all ears, please explain to us where did we go wrong?”

    If there was ever a relationship between the parents and teen, the teen’s verbal floodgates will open. Don’t get emotional, defensive, argue, tell him/her that they are stupid, etc., just listen and ask how the teen would reccomend to strengthen the parent-child relationship.

    From testimony of quite a few parents, this is sage advice. Giving speeches how much you love him/her and your door is always open, etc. are meaningless parenting class lines. Doing the above really shows that you love and care about the teen.

    Bracha Vehatzlachah to your friend and all those who go through this tzaar gidul bonim. Think about the abocve recommendation and let us hear how it went.


    This issue is quite rampant in all circles, yeshivish, chasidish, modern ortho. Really good kids who somehow hang around with not so good kids are quite bad influences. I have been approached for a shidduch for my daughter by several people, same boy. Good boy, I know him since he was born. Learns nicely. But after learning he hangs around with boys who are so far from learning and yiddishkeit. And it’s hurting his shidduch chances. I’m not the only one saying no. Everybody who hears his name says no. And everybody says, yes he learns well, yes he’s in yeshiva all day. But….


    It is always important to keep the lines of communication open. Sometimes kids will open up to a neighbor or a friends parent before they open up to their own. Kids tend to think their parents are “nuts” while their friend’s parents are cool and genius. That’s normal too.

    Never be afraid to say “I love you” to your child. Even if they make fun or throw their hands up that their too old, they need to hear it and they need your hugs. They take it with them and tuck them into their heart. They pull it out and envelope themselves in it whenever they feel insecure or are on shakey footing.

    Ask them about their day, ask them about their friends, don’t push just ask. Ask if they would like to invite their friends over or have a friend for Shabbos or dinner. Make sure you don’t JUDGE their friend, neither their appearance or their attitude. Especially if you don’t like their friend, ask if he would like to have that friend over again. You know the quote “keep your friends close and your enemies closer”. Get to know them, you will be surprised as to how much of an influence you can be on that child as well just by being polite and caring.

    That doesn’t mean that you have to break your rules for anyone. You can say “if you don’t mind please wash up before dinner”, or “Avi would be happy to lend you a kippah if you didn’t come with one”. If they give you an argument don’t push it too far. Just ask politely if they would do it out of respect for you. If they say they would rather not, you can say “I won’t push it, but please consider it.”


    In some cases kids are very naive and they TRY to help OTD but they are too young and inexperienced and they should really not get involved until they are married and have more training and knowledge under their belts. Even if they are been their done that kids. If that is the case they should be working under the supervision of trained professionals.


    What does being married have to do with anything?


    When one is married they have a sounding board in their wives. They have someone to talk things over with and they don’t become overly involved. They can’t devote too much time to the cause they have other responsibilities so they don’t get in over their heads and their wives can point those things out to them.

    Sister Bear

    She should keep on eye on her son and his new friends but should never tell him he’s not allowed to hang out with them cuz that will just make him resent her. The best way to get to know his friends is by inviting them to your house and you’ll probably see they are good kids who are confused.

    Also, like others said before why do you think he is hanging out with these kids and if its recent what caused it?

    Another thing, don’t be too overbearing and always asking him where he’s been and what he’s doing. Give him breathing room but support him. Be there for him cuz he’s probably going through a rough time.


    A lot of good advice has been given here. Aries had it on the nose, and GAW and others had good suggestions on inviting the boys to spend time at your home. The key is to make sure your own child does not feel disenfranchised. it is unfortunately very true that many groups of kids DO make others feel unwelcome, so the kid who is potentially gong to go OTD, will go where he or she DOES feel welcome. In my college years that meant kids were becoming Moonies.


    If you can find good friends that he can relate to, that will help. Some LD children don’t make it in Yeshiva, so they look elsewhere for something fulfilling, a real tragedy. Getting them into a good chevre is the positive step.


    “In my college years that meant kids were becoming Moonies. “

    Talk about a language barrier. You meant the Reverend’s cult. In my circles, a child becoming a “moonie” means they are frumming out and davening in Emunas Yisroel (for those of you not from Bklyn, Emunas Yisroel is a shul where there is NO talking and davening takes an extra 15-20 minutes longer than the speed machine places)

    I just thought it was a funny choice of words, and I have’nt heard it in ages

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