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My parents are trying to break up my friendship

QUESTION: My parents hate my best friend. They’ve limited me from seeing her and won’t let me be with her between classes or after school. This year we’re in Year 11 and my parents have told the teachers to separate us if they see us together. The more they do this the more I love my friend. She always makes me very happy, she makes me laugh and she’s super talented. We just sit and hold hands, nothing more. I’ve tried to tell them but they won’t listen. What can I do?

ANSWER: Year 11 is a sort of no-man’s land. You’re 14 or 15, you can’t run your own life, you don’t really know where your future is headed, and teachers and parents have a lot of sway over your life decisions. However, you’re a thinking, feeling human being who can love and be in love. You can admire someone else for their talents and you can choose your friends. So, who is right?

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Your letter is sparse in details and I don’t know why your parents are so anti this friend.  It’s possible they are concerned that your love and friendship with this girl labels you somehow and they think you’re too young to have labels attached to you. It could be that they know something about your friend which has caused them genuine concern.

I think you have a right to know more but you might need to step up and be mature if you want to be treated as an intelligent, young adult who can be reasoned with.

Have you tried to talk rationally about all this to your parents? Are you certain your parents have asked the teachers to intervene? It seems unlikely in this day that teachers would take on such a role or be dictated to like this. Why don’t you ask the teachers directly? You could request a meeting between your parents and the teachers you believe are involved to try and get to the bottom of this matter.

Open communication and an absence of inflammatory statements, for example “my parents hate my best friend”, will strengthen your case and enable you to be taken seriously. A good tactic for your discussions is to listen first and try to take in what everyone is saying before you say your piece.

If all this fails, then bide your time. Remember this saying: The only way to have a friend is to be one. Keep smiling and being nice to your friend and you might have to let time sort this problem.

Mary-anne Scott has raised four boys and written three novels for young adults, all of which have been shortlisted for the NZ Book awards for children and young adults. She has a new novel due out in Feb 2020. 

As one of seven sisters, there aren’t many parenting problems she hasn’t talked over. Please note that Mary-anne is not a trained counsellor. Her advice is not intended to replace that of professional counsellor or psychologist.