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I don't want my teen to see my former friend Add to ...

A reader writes: I ended a 15-year friendship when the friend seriously overstepped boundaries after my marriage breakup. Now she continues to contact my teenage daughter, even inviting her on holiday. I’ve written requesting that she contact me first to avoid awkwardness, but now she’s become close friends with my ex and gets to my child that way. I recognize it’s a teenager’s prerogative to have her own friends, but I find the situation odd and uncomfortable. What can I do?

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Talk to your daughter

Yes, teens should have a choice of friends, but an adult going out of her way to take vacations with a teenager – while bypassing the mother’s wishes – sounds a bit off. Putting aside your own issues, ask yourself: Is she is a positive role model? Then talk to your daughter. No need to share unnecessary details, but she needs to know why you have concerns.

Randa Doche, Oromocto, N.B.

Back off

This person sounds like she was a very good friend who is now simply concerned about the emotional well being of your daughter. Unless you feel your child is at risk, you should back off and try to understand why you feel so threatened. Your ex-spouse is permitted to use his judgment about the situation, if he has custody rights.

Linda King, Ladysmith, B.C.

Leave it be

Unless you have reason to believe your daughter is at risk, do nothing. You seem to impute a sinister motive to your former friend, but she has known your daughter for much of her life, and they clearly have an attachment. Your daughter is already going through the loss of divorce, and should not be obliged to also give up what may be an important relationship, simply to save you discomfort.

Cait Beattie, Les Cèdres, Que.

The final word

When I was a teenager, I befriended the wife of the local imam. She was black, American and so cool – everything my mom wasn’t. I could tell her anything and I did – boys, relationships, my future. My mother just stirred the curry and was oblivious to the incredible role this woman played in my life. Culturally, my mother wasn’t equipped to understand my adolescent angst.

Here’s the best advice I have ever received about raising kids: There will be a time in our children’s lives when they need to talk to someone else. This is a good thing. Cait’s probably right about the critical role your ex-friend is currently playing in your child’s life. Divorce is traumatic and kids need to talk to people who are not their parents – because sometimes parents are the very people they need to talk about.

I understand Ronda’s concern, but parental disapproval can fuel a teenager’s rebellion. So trust your ex-spouse’s judgment, as Linda suggests. It’s his daughter too, and I doubt your friend will be allowed to take her on vacation to see the prison barracks in North Korea.

And as much as this is going to kill you, don’t disparage your friend in front of your daughter. No name calling, especially those that rhyme with witch. Not unless you want your friend to replace you entirely.

Don’t forget, you’ll always be the mother. By the time I had a husband and children, my mom and I had common territory again. She helped me through the most difficult years of early motherhood. Who knew how fiercely one could bond over projectile vomit and a husband’s incomprehensible love of electronic gadgets?

And guess whose teenage daughters are going on a cruise to Alaska without their lame mother? But I’m not worried. Sooner or later, one of them will run out of money, and that’s when all kids come back.

Zarqa Nawaz is the creator of Little Mosque on the Prairie.

Next week’s question

A reader writes: My partner and I have a child in elementary school. I concentrated on my career while he was a stay-at-home dad for years, working part-time once our child was in kindergarten. But while he agreed to find full-time work once our child was in school full time, he hasn’t. He’s also poor at following through on parenting decisions we make. Yet he is attentive and loving and does most of the housework. Maybe I should just be satisfied and stop wanting an equal partner who contributes financially, but I worry my son will learn the path of least resistance too. Is this a mountain or molehill?

Let’s hear from you

If you would like to participate, e-mail us at grouptherapy@globeandmail.com. All questions are published anonymously, but we will include your name and hometown if we use your response (it will be edited).

 
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