Can Grampa or parents choose their kids' friends? Nope!
Countless examples of this principle abound. But what can you do? Quite a bit, actually.
CAUTION: Experts say the training process must occur between the ages of 3 and 5. The worst time to begin to teach kids and gramkids is AFTER they've brought home someone you have concerns about.
The Prophet Joseph Smith taught, "I teach them correct principles, and they govern themselves” (quoted by John Taylor, Millennial Star, 15 Nov. 1851, p. 339"
"By chosing the Lord first, choosing your friends become easier." Elder Ronald Rasband in an LDS Church wide fireside given at BYU March 7, 2010 talked about mentoring and receiving mentoring by the friends you choose. (See and/or listen to the whole talk) This link will become active as soon as BYU Speeches makes it available.
Are some kids weeds?
When our Sally was working her way through seventh grade, she brought home a new friend. Gramma Rosie got them both involved in baking cookies. During that first visit we found out this little gal was a latch key kid. Her single mother didn't get home til late and she had a lot of time to cruise the nearby mall.
This girl was clever and even by seventh grade she "knew a few things." Sally, who has long since moved past this experience called her mother and told her that her new friend wanted to take Sally along on a trip to the mall. Rosie gave permission, with a word about being careful and honest. (She had a mother's intuition about this new friend long before she found out the whole story)
An hour later Sally was back home with quite a story to tell. The new friend had learned to specialize in "five finger discounts." She had turned her free time waiting for her mom to finally get home into free stuff--ear rings, cosmetics and the odd scarf or glittering top. She bragged to Sally that she never got caught.
Too much free time. Not enough appropriate busy. Too little structure. Poor single Mom who couldn't supervise and provide structure, working to just keep a roof over their heads. Sad, eh? and To Sally's credit she felt way uncomfortable. She spoke her mind and told her new found thief.
My dear Rosie asked Sally if she wanted to continue "hangin' with this little lady?"
Sally thought a minute and a minute more. She hadn't had to make a decision like this before. Then she began to talk through the decision with her mom as coach! (That's the way it's done)
Lynn Stevens, master real estate sales trainer, practitioner and national speaker said this: "When you get the prospect to talk through a decision and make it, they're buying. You're not selling. That's the best way. Grampas take heed. Asking a good question gently and waiting for an answer will draw a trusting gramchild out, if they're old enough to make a good decision.
Eventually Sally decided on her own to cool their friendship. Still say hi at school, but avoid co-conspiracies at the mall.
Later I asked Rosie, "Are some kids weeds?" It got her thinking, but in this case she thought Sally made a great choice!
Little Lessons where the Rubber meets the Road
The founder of Boys Town, Father Flanagan once said, "There is no such thing as a bad boy!" (or girl) It all depends on how much time and patience you as their leader are willing to spend, and of course so many other things.
On the other hand, I recall a little Primary lesson by Lorna Harrison in the Laramie, Wyoming ward where I grew up. Her message was unforgettable. Said she to all of us on little chairs, "If you drop a glove into the mud, the glove gets muddy, the mud doesn't get glovey."
These little sayings at just the right age, long before unloved tweens or teens glom onto your precious little relative, will plant the seeds for a good discussion. The good news is the first confrontation usually comes with parents. You as Gramparents will likely catch your youngster on the rebound. This is when that time honored principle of Grampa joining forces with the child against the parents comes into play.
No need for shouting matches, Grampa. Engage your little loved ones early, teach them correct principles about the value of wonderful friendship with little stories and sayings like these, Then settle back to see those seeds bloom when they meet a challenge. JRH