Saturday, December 13, 2014

The one with the mom who needs to "let go"

Dear Dad,

I need some male/dad perspective. Lets start by saying I was raised without a father, so I really don't know what that family dynamic looks like. I am the mother of a 16 year old boy and I am having a hard time finding the line between letting him fix his own problems and stepping in myself. It was only him and me for the first 10 years of his life. Enter step-dad, who loves him dearly. My son has experienced his first big blow up with his close buddy over, you guessed it, a girl. He has two very close buddies and one of them broke up with the girlfriend because, from what I understand, he doesn't think she should talk to ANY other males while they date. My son is also her friend (no interest beyond friendship). His buddy thinks he should stop all communication with the girl, and by my son not doing that, he must be interested in her. Keep in mind we live in a small town and the entire sophomore class consists of 55 students. My son wants to maintain his friendship with both people, also believing his buddy is wrong for demanding she not have friendships with other boys. Step-dad is telling him, literally, "bro's before ho's." And I think I messed up and got involved by calling one of the boys' moms. What on earth is the appropriate action by a mother in these situations. I'm not a helicopter mom, but sometimes, I do act like a bird on shoulder wanting to make sure his world is perfect......Help.......

Dear 'Time to Let Go':

My three girls are still quite young (ten, six and six), so I can't offer you advice from experience; however, I can offer based off my first impression, and my experience as a once-16 year old boy. 

At some point every parent needs to "let go" a bit and allow their children to fall and figure out how to get back up. I have had personal experience with this a few times already, and ultimately stepped in (there were some kids bullying my oldest, and I ultimately had to involve the school.  All involved ended becoming good friends, and it was a great overall learning experience). I worried that I overstepped a boundary, but due to the situation and her age (she was 8) I know I made the right call. But at what point do I let her fend for herself?

I think this was a good opportunity where you could have let go a bit. I think you crossed a line by calling the mother of a 16 year old boy to try to fix '16 year old drama'.  I, with that being said, completely understand why you made that call, 'Time to let go'. 

I hope one day when I am in your shoes, I take my own advice, but know from experience I have not when faced with what you were faced with. I think back to the drama from when I was 16, and if my mom were to call anyone over any of  it--especially in a small town where word-of-mouth spreads like wildfire? I am sorry to say I think you were in the wrong. 

My advice is to talk to your son and apologize for over stepping a boundary. Explain to him that he is your heart/soul and you were only trying to protect him. I think he will appreciate your honesty, and also see that you are empowering him as a young man to fix his own problems, and he may gain a new respect for you by you acknowledging that you are a human being, imperfect, and make mistakes.

I would take it a step further and (if you agree with me) tell him his step father was wrong to say "bros before hos." Males and females can have platonic friendships (though I agree with anyone who says there will probably be some type of attraction on one side or another). Your son's friend sounds like a bit of a controlling an confused kid.  His own insecurities cost him a relationship and possibly a friendship. I applaud your son for standing up for what is "right," and agree with your son. This is not your son's issue, the girl's issue, and certainly not your  issue. This is the insecure boy's issue. I hope he learns his lesson. I hope you have a dialogue with your son to help him come to this conclusion on his own. 

Good luck to you!
Parents/Grandparents of teens:   what has been your experience with when to let go and when to allow your children to fight their own battles?   

As part of this advice column, I encourage readers to use the comment section to have a conversation on the subjects that are presented for 'Dear Dad.'  I will be around all day to be part of the conversation.  What are everyone's thoughts? 

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