By Ron Huxley, LMFT
Peer Grading is a parenting tool that parents use to grade their child’s friends to protect them from negative influences. As children mature they become more other-centered versus parent-centered. They are more heavily influenced by the peer group and its culture than that of their parents. The believe that parents cannot understand what they are experiencing as teens and pre-teens. If some ways this is true. Today’s adolescent experiences more “adult-like” influences and decisions then most parents did when they were their child’s age. Today’s adolescent is faced with making decisions around sex, drugs, and antisocial behavior much earlier then ever before. But, parents also have a better perspective on right and wrong then do their children, regardless of what their child might believe.
This tool is used primarily as a protection for children. It is not meant to be a judgmental instrument to increase the parent-child gap. It may be necessary for parents to not disclose this tool to their children simply because they might misconstrue what parents are trying to do. Parents are simply looking at their child’s peers to determine how powerful and how positive or negative an influence that child is to their own child. An “A” grade would include peers who demonstrates behavior consistent with parents own set of values and behaviors. They are children that parents have a lot of knowledge about and have observed their behavior in a lot of diverse situations. They have shown that they do well in school, respect adults, participate in their community, and resist negative influences themselves. Consequently, they are peers with whom parents allow their children to have a lot of freedom and less supervision when with them. “B” grade peers are children with whom parents have little knowledge about. They appear to solid children with good social values and appropriate behavior but have not been observed acting in many different situations. Consequently, parents allow less freedom and provide more supervision than “A” grade children. “C” grade peers are children with whom parents have never or rarely observed their values and behaviors or parents are a little unsure about their type of influence on their children. More interaction, under parental supervision is necessary. “D” grade peers are children who have demonstrated a negative influence on a parent’s child and with whom their child is allowed little, if any interaction, unless closely supervised. “F” grade peers are children with whom parents do not allow any interaction with what-so-ever. These are peers who have openly displayed antisocial behavior and are engaging in behavior that is not consistent with parents own values.
It is important to remember that these grades are not life long brands. A child’s peers can change grades after they have demonstrated more appropriate social behavior. They can also drop in grades based on their decisions and actions. The higher the grade the less supervision and the more freedom a parent’s allows their child to have with him or her. It may be insightful for parents to ask themselves: “How would other parents grade my child as a peer?” Additionally, peer grading has nothing to do with a peers race or economic background. While they might affect opportunities, they have nothing to do with values or behaviors. It is simply a tool to help parents protect their child from negative influences by controlling the amount and type of interaction with other children who may have a negative impact on their own children.
Ron Huxley is a licensed child and family therapist and the founder of thewww.parentingtoolbox.com and www.angertoolbox.com websites. Get a “Parents Guide to Surviving the Holidays” ebook now or join one of his many newsletters athttp://parentingtoolbox.com/join.html