Teenage Decision Making: Navigating Healthy or Unhealthy Relationships

Teenage Decision Making

Building healthy relationships can be difficult at any age, but teenage decision making can be more emotional than adults. Because they do not have life experiences, they tend to be more trusting. That being said, building and learning about relationships is an important part of a teen’s life. It is not always an easy thing to navigate, but it is a worthwhile thing to do because relationships can bring so many positive things into our lives.


Teenage decision making: navigating healthy or unhealthy relationships

cherylholt / Pixabay

However, not all relationships are positive. In fact, they could form a friendship that can turn rather toxic. One lesson your teen will need to learn is how to evaluate her (or his) relationships as healthy or unhealthy. It takes time and sometimes mistakes are made, but if you are there for your child and focus on your relationship with her, she will be more open to taking your advice in this matter. How do you guide your teen to a place where she can evaluate his own relationships?


Build a Strong Relationship between You and Your Teen

One of the best things you can do to help your teen find healthy friendships is to build a strong relationship with her. Be open and non-judgmental, always encouraging an atmosphere where she can be open and vulnerable with you. Be trustworthy with the information you are given, and try to look at the situation through unbiased lenses. This will give you better perspective by which to help your child assess the situation.


Give Personal Examples

Just as you encourage openness from your teen, be open with her. Without spilling all the gory details or betraying anyone’s confidence, talk about your own friendships and struggles you have had. Tell your child how you determined which relationships were healthy and unhealthy and what you did to correct any situations in need of change.


Talk about What Values and Characteristics to Look For in a Friend

Converse with your child about what kind of values a good friend would have. Talk about what would make a friendship healthy or unhealthy, and what a person needs to watch out for. Talk about positive characteristics such as loyalty and honesty. Ask your child whether they ever feel taken advantage of, or if they feel they are taking advantage of the other party. Explain that both people need to be in a healthy place for a relationship to remain healthy. Discuss warning signs that a relationship may be turning sour.


Be an Example of a Good Friend

Although as parents we need to maintain boundaries with our children, we should be nurturing a friendship by the teen years as well. You should try to a role model for those traits your child should be looking for in a friend. Be honest, kind, and trustworthy in every way toward them.


Be Accepting of the Friends They Choose

Our children may choose friends we get along with, or their friends may be our worst nightmare. Unless there is danger for your child to remain friends with someone, attempt to be open and accepting. Try not to peg any of your teen’s friends as a “bad apple” as this will only damage your relationship and push them closer toward the friend. Be the person your child can still feel comfortable talking about issues with.


When They Do Get Into a Toxic Friendship

That being said, there are times when a more intervention may be necessary. For example, my teen has been friends, off and on, with a fellow classmate (M) now for the past two years. However, every couple of months there is some sort of mishap. Unfortunately, it seems my daughter receives the brunt of the blame. I’m not saying she’s without blame, but it does take two, right?

The problem is, when there is a problem, M tends to yell at her on social media, you know, all CAPS yelling. Then M gets other “friends” involved, who also start bashing my daughter. Sadly, because my daughter has such low self-esteem, she takes the beating and then profusely apologizes, even though she’s not completely to blame.

My daughter and M actually just had another falling-out last week. Apparently, this was the reason my daughter claimed “ill” on Thursday and Friday. It was to avoid school. On Sunday, my daughter finally confessed about the recent conflict. Although, it was after I questioned a “YELL” on Snapchat from M. Unfortunately, they do have a class together and are in a study group for that class. Also, once again, someone else from their study group was drawn into the drama.


Teenage decision making - choosing friends that could be health or unhealthy relationships.

Anemone123 / Pixabay

The Lie

This all started over a lie, which I am not condoning, from my daughter. M sadly lost a pet last week. While M was out of school grieving, two of the kids from their study group asked my daughter whyM wasn’t at school. My daughter told them the truth. After the fact, M texted my daughter and told her not to tell anyone why she wasn’t at school. Instead of being honest, my daughter lied. Of course, she got busted.

My daughter has apologized over and over again. Although, at this point, I told her she needs to stop being so sorry. She made a mistake with lying. However, people make mistakes. She didn’t lie to deceive her, she lied because she was afraid of M getting mad at her…which she did anyway.

I advised her to stay away at this point. Last summer she was asked not talk to M all summer because she needed a “break”. If you have to work that hard at being a friend, or feel the need to lie so you don’t get in trouble, then is it really a genuine friendship? I would say not. You should never have to tip toe around a friend to that extreme. People make mistakes, they should be forgiven.

All teens will deal with relationships of some type. Learning to navigate relationships is not easy for our children, or for us, but it is a part of growing up that our child cannot skip. Be the best support your teen could hope for as they walk through this stage of their life, and they will always be thankful for your unwavering support.

How do you handle teenage drama?



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About the Author

I am a work from home mom who dearly loves her 15-year-old daughter, 11-year-old boy/girl twins, and husband. I love my life and feel very blessed by what God has provided for me.


  1. Desiree Lopez says

    Luckily I’ve been able to keep the lines of communication open with my teen girls. I think that can be so important to making sure they come to me when something in a friendship seems not quite right. This way I can help them make good decisions for themselves.

  2. The thing I try to really stress is the guilt by association issue. Even if you aren’t doing something bad if those you hang out with do, you are guilty too. Also who you choose to hang out with is a reflection of who you are.

  3. It’s so important to keep the lines of communication open with your kids so that when problems occur, they’re not afraid to talk to you. I’m so glad I don’t have to deal with this any more, but totally feel for those in the trenches.

  4. I found that having open communication on a daily basis led to discussion during those tense moments as well. The teenage years are tough!

  5. I’m begin to navigate the teen waters, and I can already tell it’s going to be tough. I appreciate the guidance you’ve shared. With young children, I could essentially “weed out” toxic friends. But now that they’re older, they need to make their own decisions.

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