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Let son's friendship evolve on its own

Mom needs to let friendship evolve on its own

Q: My 14-year-old son has befriended a boy who constantly texts his other friends while out with him. They met at boarding school and plan on being roommates next year. He lives 10 minutes away, so I have been encouraging the friendship because we recently moved here, and my son doesn't have many friends in the area. My son has been popular and never had any problems making friends in our old community.

We took this boy on vacation with us, and although it began well, by the last four days it was like having a boy in a phone booth vacationing with us. It upset me so much I told him that cell phones aren't allowed in our home. He hasn't been to our home since. His mom and I will be carpooling for a week to a camp, and I know it will sicken me when this boy texts the whole way. I believe this boy does it on purpose to make my son feel isolated, and even if that's not his motive I feel it is extremely rude. I have asked my son to discuss it with him, but he is unwilling to, even though it bothers him too. I would like to discuss it with his mom, but I don't know her that well and I fear it will backfire on me.

I was so happy to have this family in our lives for a few reasons: the obvious one is a nice friend for my son, but also because I have close friends of all races and love the diversity. However, I never had the opportunity to closely befriend anyone who is black. This family is, and we have a lot in common, but this issue is getting in the way.


A: To recap: You pushed a friendship on a son who has no trouble finding his own friends, because you wanted an emotional insurance policy (for him or for you, it's unclear), and because your diversity necklace needed a black pearl.

Here's what I suggest you do: Nothing. Given that your actions in this episode have included meddling, undermining your son's social confidence, and judging people by the color of their skin as opposed to the content of their character, I would say you've done enough.

Your fingerprints are all over this Frankenfriendship; you can't rule out that your encouragement is why your son is vacationing, camping, carpooling and rooming with a guy whose company he doesn't particularly enjoy.

Extract yourself, please, from the buddy-making business. You can't meddle back to health a relationship that was never healthy to begin with. What happens if you somehow manage to get the mother to stop the son from texting — will he then magically cease to be cruel, or rude, or uninterested, or whatever else the texting betrays him to be?

By extracting yourself, you allow the forces of nature, adolescence and personal choice to shape the outcome here.

Like all corrections, this one is bound to involve some pain, or at least awkwardness; in fact, it would be appropriate, before you "go," to apologize to your son for pushing this friendship. That way, you free him — without suggesting, advising or pushing a thing — to start doing as he sees fit.

Let son's friendship evolve on its own 08/07/08 [Last modified: Tuesday, November 2, 2010 10:33am]
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