I call still recall my disbelief when a dad at a parent presentation told me he had not yet met his 13-year-old son’s girlfriend of 3 months. I urged him to get to know this young lady pronto (and wanted to tell him that I thought dating in middle school at all was a bad idea). It seems that I could have also added, “and get to know her social network as well.”
A recent study showed that the friends of a teen’s significant other are more influential with regard to alcohol use that the teen’s own friends or boyfriend/girlfriend. My mind flashed back to the point at which I began to get drunk at parties in high school. It was when I was with my new boyfriend and his friends. When that boyfriend exited the picture (replaced by one who was not a drinker), my drunken episodes ceased. Similarly, when another date used pot, I did as well. Parents, it’s not enough to know your teen’s date; you need to know about their friend-group as well. Asking questions (“So have you made new friends now that you’re dating Alexa? Tell me about them….”) is a good start.