As I talked with a good friend recently about our sons and their social lives, he quoted an old saying that rang so true: “Show me his friends and I’ll show you his future.”

Our sons will most certainly have a lot of friends over the course of their childhood and adolescence. But at some point he will develop a crew, a group of guys (and gals) with whom he spends a great deal of time. While the temptation may be to leave your son and his crew alone, it would be a good idea to spend a bit of time getting to know the kids he hangs out with.

Kids that are ambitious and hard working can inspire your son. Kids who are heading for trouble can take your son along with them. You don’t have to be a stalker, but talking to these friends and asking your son about them will give you a sense of who they are.

If you find that you dislike or have a bad feeling about one of his friends, it would NOT be a good idea to tell your son to end the friendship (unless you have actual knowledge that the friendship could be harmful to your son). Few things are more anxiety provoking and annoying for your son than knowing that his mom can’t stand his best friend. It doesn’t make him want to move away from his friend, it just makes him feel guilty about spending time with him.

Instead, try to talk with your son about this friend. Learn what your son likes about him. Try to figure out the source of your dislike, and consider whether hanging out with your son can be a good influence on this friend.

If your boy is young, you can subtly encourage him to make new friends by encouraging him to try new organized activities. If your son is a teenager, you may have to just stand down, grin and bear it when the friend is around, (unless you are certain this friend will put your son in harm’s way. Give your son room to make a few mistakes with making friends–it will help him learn valuable lessons about himself.

For more advice on this topic, see “Hate Your Kid’s Friend? Here’s What To Do” found here.