We had a really good talk with our boys last night - mostly Colin and Liam - about friends. We talked about how friends influence your attitude, how friends need to follow our house rules, how limits on time with the same person is a good thing and probably a few other things.
I wasn't surprised that my boys listened. What surprised me a little was the level of freedom, and even relief, they seemed to feel when they realized that they were free (and even mandated) to confront their friends on poor and wrong behavior. They seemed to feel even more empowered when I told them that they could bring the discussion or issue to me if they had not been able to figure it out on their own. Once they felt free to talk about issues with their friends, we got a good teaching moment(s) about gossip and they even began to understand that gossip wrong, hurtful and never productive.
I LOVE when I can have conversations with my kids that are real. Last night was a win . . . even if for no one else, for me.