Monday, May 26, 2008

The problems you can get into when talking to Teens.

We have some friends who have a boy who is 14 or 15. He's a very bright and usually polite young man. His Mom and Dad are divorced. Dad Married a woman with young children, and he adopted them. I think they are 4,5,7 and 8. Mom has 2 kids with her new husband, they are 1 and 2 now.

I've heard rumors that the Teen can be really cruel to his younger siblings. He says mean things, teases them, pushes them down etc. I think he is feeling displaced. He was an only child for a long time, and now he has to share the attention of his parents, who seem to spend much more time and energy with the little ones than they do with the Teen. Ive heard Teen talking about some of the things he does to his brothers and sisters, like stepping on their feet, calling them names, and throwing Lego's at them.

Anyway, we were at a BBQ with Teen, his Dad, Step-Mom and siblings, There were other friends there as well, but none of them were close in age to Teen, leaving Teen pretty much on his own. Eventually Teen started talking to some of the younger people there, they tried to include him in their conversations and tried to be friendly with him. I think they were feeling sorry for him. Eventually Teen started to ask some rather personal questions, he kept pushing for answers even when they didn't want to talk about it. (He asked them how old they were when they had sex for the first time. And about doing drugs. For example.) 2 of the young men thought they would use their experiences to illustrate what not to do. They honestly answered his questions, and told him how they had thought, at the time, that doing those things was cool. They told him that they later regretted what they had done, and knew that they had been wrong. After that Teen and his family went home.

A few days later we heard how the Dad and Step-Mom were very upset with the 2 young men for some of the things Teen said they had told him. He said that they wouldn't stop talking about sex and drugs even when he asked them to. He misrepresented how the subject came up and didn't mention that the young men had told him how much they regretted what they had done when they were younger. His parents wouldn't listen to people who told them the whole story.

We also found out that he had told his parents that Howard had threatened him. Which I suppose was partially correct, Howard did tell him that if he ever saw him throwing rocks at The Boy again he would drag him kicking and screaming to his parents and suggest a rather drastic punishment. Probably not a good thing to say, but Howard had just seen Teen throw a rock that narrowly missed The Boy's Head and was understandably quite angry about it.

This family won't talk to anyone directly involved with the things they have problems with, they won't listen to anyone telling them what they had seen and heard. They are choosing to totally believe their son.

I feel badly for the 2 young men, they were wrong to talk to him about the things they did, they are feeling guilty over the whole thing. One of them says he is going to lie if asked such questions in the future. He feels badly that he will purposely lie to someone, but feels that it may cause less trouble. (I think that talking frankly with a young person you don't know well, is probably not a good idea. Not because I think that young Teens will lie, but because you don't know their maturity level and it may be more than they can handle. Of course I don't think a 14 or 15 year old should be asking adults questions about sex and drugs either, at least not at a back yard party.)

I'm actually rather proud of Howard. He's changed quite a bit since becoming a Daddy. Before The Boy he would have grabbed the Teen and at least shaken him, no warnings given. If the person had been older than 18 he would probably have started a fight. Now he will give warnings if appropriate by his standards. (which usually means someone is young and probably just needs to learn or needs a reminder.) Or he will call the appropriate authorities to deal with the situation. The parents for someone 17 and younger, or the police for someone 18 and older, even though he would prefer not to talk to the police because of his own not so stellar background.) No one gets away with harming or threatening to harm The Boy while his Daddy is around.

So I guess the lesson here is not to talk to young people you don't know very well about things of a very personal nature. You can be friendly with them and talk to them about other things. Just be more careful than these 2 guys were. They were wrong, and they know it. And maybe Howard should have gone directly to the parents instead of talking to the Teen himself. I think he thought he was helping the Teen to keep out of trouble with his parents.

Anyway this has been bothering me for quite awhile, and I decided that I'd rather get it out than keep running through it in my head. Thanks for getting this far.

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