By Rachel Stein | email@example.com
The dilemma: Mom worries about her son, Jake, who befriends the social misfits of his school. Although her son is “normal,” peers are treating him as a pariah because he socializes with boys who don’t fit with their peer group.
Dear Jake’s Mom,
I was touched by the strength of your love for your son. Although all parents love their children (most of the time, anyway), your overpowering love inspired me. Every word of your narrative spoke volumes of warmth and caring. I advise you to take a step back. It is healthy for children to know they are capable of making their own decisions and handling the ensuing ramifications. It builds their confidence and self-esteem, the buzzwords of our generation.
Allow Jake to continue spreading his wings by choosing the friends he wants. And truthfully, does life have to be a popularity contest? As long as Jake has people to call his friends, does it matter if he and his group are viewed a little differently? Will that make him a less successful person in any aspect of his life?
Your earliest prayers, that he should achieve his potential, can yet be realized. I predict he will be a great husband, father and breadwinner even though during his teen years he isn’t hanging with the in group. He has the trademark characteristics of a successful person: compassion, sensitivity and love for others. So let go of the worries and take some deep breaths. And be proud of your golden-hearted child.
Wishing you many eight-hour nights of solid sleep,
A Fellow Mom
Dear Jake’s Mom,
Your concern regarding your son’s tendency to embrace and befriend the underdogs is valid. Perhaps he gravitates in that direction from insecurity and a strong desire to be needed. These are deep-rooted issues that need to be fleshed out and rechanneled in a healthy direction. Therapy or speaking to a mentor could give him an inner window as to why he is acting in this manner and whether there is something in his self-perception and resultant behavior that should be addressed and changed.
What can you do? Since this appears to be a neighborhood problem, can you enroll him in extra-curricular activities that these particular “Bens” don’t attend? Have you considered NCSY, the JCC, organized sports, music, art? There are unlimited options and outlets that combine healthy activities within a vibrant social framework. Hopefully, the friends he will meet in any of these situations can be brought home, balancing his relationships with the unfortunate pariahs.
Best of luck,
Dave, school basketball coach and fitness instructor
Dear Jake’s Mom,
If only all of us had such problems. What would you prefer, to have a sensitive, caring son who reaches out to the less fortunate or to be the parent of a bully? Get out of your box for a minute and think about what others endure. Do you know how many furious calls I’ve received over the years? From the day my Mikey started school, my phone began ringing and hasn’t stopped. Mikey is in the 10th grade. Irate parents and administrators don’t hesitate to inform me of my son’s latest misdemeanors, which run the gamut of verbal and physical aggression. Yes, we’ve been to every therapist in Atlanta, so please spare me.
My advice to you, Jake’s Mom, is to chillax, as my children say. Enjoy your sweet, sensitive child who looks out for the welfare of the downtrodden. And while you learn to enjoy a night’s sleep, I will continue tossing and turning, agonizing over my child, who appears not to own a conscience and relentlessly causes pain to others.
Will Mikey ever become an upstanding husband, father and productive part of the community? I hope and pray he will; miracles do happen. In addition to the crushing burden of raising a challenging child, know that it is embarrassing for me to appear in public.
Wearing the distinctive badge proclaiming to the world that I am Mikey’s Mom, I imbibe countless reproachful looks, angry comments and ostracism. People are quick to judge and assume it’s my fault for creating this monster. In my heart I know I’ve put forth massive efforts over the years, yet this child persists in his ways.
But don’t worry. As much as I’m tempted to give up because I’m tired from the struggle, I will persevere. After all, as long as there’s life, there’s hope.
Good luck to you, Jake’s Mom. Enjoy your son,