DEAR KELLY: My parents don’t approve of my new best friend’s mom, and I have no idea why. I became best friends with Sarah earlier this year. My mom still wants to me to hang out with my old friends from middle school, and I don’t want to. We have nothing in common anymore and it’s awkward.
My mom says it’s not OK I spend so much time at Sarah’s house. If it was a mom she liked and a girl she liked, it wouldn’t be a problem. My old best friend Paige and I practically lived at each other’s houses during middle school and my parents like Paige’s parents. Now that my mom doesn’t like Sarah’s mom, it’s a totally different story. When I ask my mom why she doesn’t like Sarah’s mom, all she says is that, “I’ve heard things about her and I don’t approve.” She won’t tell me what. I think she’s heard lies and rumors from other moms. Tracy is like the nicest, coolest mom and all the kids love her. It’s not like she lets us party and get wild. She doesn’t. Tracy has rules and everyone follows them. She’s just different than Mom and her friends.
How do I get my parents to not be so mad every time I want to hang out at Sarah’s? If I get good grades and don’t do drugs or smoke, shouldn’t my parents completely trust me and know that if Tracy was letting us do bad things, or “inappropriate things” like my mom says, I would call my parents and come home? I don’t want my parents to come between us if they won’t let me hang with her on the weekends. I told my mom she was the problem and not Tracy, and that didn’t go over very well. Please help.
Who’s The Problem?
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DEAR PROBLEM: Finger pointing and figuring out who the problem is won’t help, and is a big waste of energy. Worry more about how to solve the problem than trying to place the blame.
Start by talking with your mom about what you have observed at Tracy’s house. Share Tracy’s rules with your mom and tell her how she doesn’t let kids get wild and crazy over there. Talk to her about your plan to call home if there ever is anything over there that makes you uncomfortable and identify what those things would be. Don’t do this to change your mom’s mind about Tracy, but rather to build confidence in her that you can handle getting out of situations that could put you in a weird place.
Have your parents gotten to know Sarah very well? Maybe you start with that before you try and get her to like Tracy. How does Sarah behave at your house? Does she interact with your parents and follow your house rules? What kind of student is she? Do you have more of an attitude when Sarah is around, or do you act respectful to your parents? The big question is do your parents see Sarah as a positive influence in your life, or a negative one?
Invite Sarah over for dinner. Let your parents get to know her and spend time around her. Perhaps they will learn more about her, her mom and her life by talking with her.
Once your parents get to know Sarah, they may warm up to Tracy. Big emphasis on “may.” Since you don’t know what your mom has heard about Tracy, they may never warm up if they don’t think she shares similar house rules or beliefs in appropriate behavior for teenagers. As your parents, they have the right to set boundaries for you when it comes to personal safety. If they don’t feel like you are safe or in a positive environment when you go to Sarah’s, then they are within their parental duties to tell you that you can’t go over there.
Telling your mom that she is the problem is a bad approach. Change your tune if you ever want her to become open to Sarah and Tracy. Perhaps you girls invite the moms to coffee and let your mom get to know Tracy. Don’t push it or force them to be friends, just ask them to get to know each other a little better.
Your parents love you and are doing what they feel is right. Start by having your parents get to know Sarah, then her mom. If they still have red flags and won’t let you go over there, tell Sarah that for the time being you guys will need to hang at your house and don’t make too big of a fight over this.
Write to Kelly Richardson at Teen Talk, The Sacramento Bee, P.O. Box 15880, Sacramento, CA 95852, or email krichardson@ sacbee.com.