ChilliPepper asks: My son (17) has fallen in love with a beautiful young lady (also 17). She seems to be going through depression because of circumstances at home. Now her mom has forbidden her from seeing my son. This is breaking her heart as well as my son’s heart. My son is the only reliable solid in her life at the moment. She wants to run away from home and has even considered suicide. I don’t know what to say to my son to comfort him or what to do to help her.
Hi ChilliPepper –
What a terrifying situation! For all of you!
I’ll be honest with you – I don’t think there’s a perfect answer to this. I imagine you and your son would get into trouble for helping her run away, and her suicidal feelings make it dangerous for her to stay home.
But I do know what I can recommend. And I’ll warn you, it’s very very hard.
I’d suggest you reach out to the girl’s mother.
Ask her to lunch, or even just talk on a phone. Because there’s something here that none of us knows: what it is that bothers her about your son. And until we find that out, nothing can improve.
Now maybe she’s just a traditionalist who believes that her daughter shouldn’t be dating anyone. Or maybe there’s something specific about your son that she doesn’t like. Whatever her reasoning is, though, she’s feeling quite alone about this. Her daughter is miserable about it, and I assume no one else is there.
So can you befriend her? Can you approach her and say “Hi. We should meet and talk about this, because our kids are going through a terrible time, and we, as parents, need to figure out how to help them.” Don’t tell her you think she’s wrong to keep them separated (yet). Make her feel you’re on her side – two parents trying to get their children through a difficult time.
And if you can do that, and you can actually connect, then work your way as delicately as you can to finding out what it is she doesn’t want.
Then, if she just doesn’t want her daughter dating yet, maybe you can arrange for the two to be able to hang out as friends till she’s older.
And if she’s intolerant about something about your son (religion, race, one of those things), then you can discuss it with her, and help at least improve communication between everyone about it.
And then, if there’s something else – let’s say she caught your son and her daughter doing something you haven’t heard about! – you can promise to punish your son (even if you don’t think it was all that bad), and make sure he promises to not do that again (while she lives at home, or till she’s older, or whatever else it is that the mother wants).
See, at the moment, this situation is impossible, which is probably why the daughter is so depressed. I can’t guarantee that your reaching out can fix it, but it’s the best thing I can think of.
And even if it doesn’t work, that girl will know that a grown-up woman did all she could to help her. And that alone might be enough for her to feel hopeful and self-confident enough to get through this difficult time.
And your son? Oh if he’s got his head screwed on right, he’ll thank you for this forever!!
Best of Luck With This!!!