Life Advice



Ask Amy: Friend wants to weigh in on troubled teen

Amy Dickinson, Tribune Content Agency on

Dear Amy: My friend and co-worker has a teenage son (age 15) who has unfortunately been in trouble for most of his life. This has gotten worse the older he gets. (I am not talking about small incidents either. There has been racism, violence, and other problems that are serious.)

He has been disciplined several times already at school, and now is currently attending the “alternative” school and has been kicked off both band and athletics, in which he excelled.

She seems to have rose-colored glasses on and does not seem to understand the severity of his actions, nor the recourse for them. She is also extremely hard-headed and must always be right (*sigh*).

She has asked my opinion several times and I have generally deferred, knowing it will upset her. Should I tell her what I think, or simply let it go? I confess it is hard to watch because no good can come from the path he is currently traveling down.

Your advice would be greatly appreciated.

— A Friend


Dear A: If you have personal or professional experience dealing with an extremely challenging teenager, then you should weigh in (when invited) supportively and share every ounce of expertise and commiseration you can.

In short, can you actually help her? If so, you should.

Merely stating your opinion about how badly her son is messing up (or highlighting the severity of his offenses so she’ll pay closer attention) might make you feel righteous — and right — but wouldn’t offer a pathway toward change.

The way you present your friend’s personality, I could imagine that there are ways her own temperament might have contributed to her son’s behavior. Again, offering an indictment of her personality or parenting style isn’t likely to inspire change.


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