How to help my son "break up" with his best friend

HarrietJames's profile thumbnail
HiiiThis a really interesting post and I have been thinking about my reply for a while. I can empathise with the other boy being a bit of an underdog and not being as popular. Here’s the thing, it’s wonderful they live next door to each other as there is a friendship there. But. At the end of the day, he is not your sons' responsibility... it’s life, people grow apart... I’m not friends with my first best friend, I honestly I only know their name as I asked my mum... If the mum is making you feel guilty or like awkward, be frank... It’s okay to say “My son has made other friends too! He doesn’t like your son any less but they are just drifting. You son is a wonderful boy and has been a fantastic friend to my son. They will always be friends...” then maybe say some of my points above. Honesty is the best policy. No point beating around the bush🙂 The neighbour will make new friends in no time. I do want to emphasise again, the neighbour is not your sons' responsibility, you know this too😊 it’s going to be okay😊 good luck!! I’m keen to know how it goes 🙌🏻 I hope this has, if anything, just given you reassurance on what you already know. The neighbours' mother should really be encouraging her son to let his friend have some space and know that he will make new soon friends too! She should also ask her son to find out why the other boys are being nasty (look, I know kids are sometimes so nasty) (but if they’re saying certain things, get to the root of it and nip it in the bud as this could hurt the boy later down the line, bullying is horrible and shouldn’t happen but it does. And it can really affect people going forward) but maybe as (well here anyway) all the kids are at home, maybe the mum could make them cookies or something to bond over. I don’t know really. I feel like I’ve spoken what’s on my mind here, hopefully it makes sense! And good on your son for making friends in these tricky times! Stay safe x
aneela's profile thumbnail
Hmm i think the bigger issues is what you wrote here "Other boys on the block are mean to our next door neighbor "WHY? Where are these kids' other parents. It's not your son's job to protect neighbor friend. I think you need to tell the mom this is happening and this is what needs to be worked out. Why are they choosing this kid to gang up on? How bad is the "being mean"? Is it worse that not being invited to play outside? Only way to know is to find out how neighbor boy feels about how he is treated? (MAYBE your son is an empath who feels it more and then feels the need to "protect"? Maybe not. Maybe he sees the tears in this kid's eyes and steps in.) Either way neighbor boy is getting hurt -- either bullied outside or isolated inside. The kids can still drift but the parents need to figure out the group dynamics. It takes a village after all!
HarrietJames's profile thumbnail
I completely agree!
I was bullied as a kid. If my best friend chose to hang out with the people bullying me instead I would have killed myself. I don’t think the best friend’s life is the responsibility of your son, but I do think we ALL have the responsibility to defend and take care of those who cannot do so themselves and to shun destructive behavior, especially in adolescence. Otherwise, the behavior continues or empathy never gets a chance to develop into a useful inner tool. Once a bully becomes an adult, they can become domestic abusers, manipulative coworkers who are hard to work with, etc and those adults who lack empathy will watch these settings without intervening. Do you feel like “popularity” is more important than your kid having a moral compass? If you teach your kid right from wrong (I.e. the fact that bullying is wrong and THOSE are the people to be avoided before they turn around and do the same thing to him - these clearly are not genuine empathetic kids who will stick around your son through hardship) and how to stick up for others no matter what he might lose, he just might grow up to make this world a better place instead of adopting and perpetuating the negative traits of the bullies. I don’t understand how someone could tell their kid to shun their friend to hang out with mean kids instead without looking at the bigger picture of what this teaches them about treating others in the future.I would rather my kid have 1 weird friend than 100 bad influences around them.
I would tend to agree with Leonora21 - this is an opportunity for your son to build his character and learn more about interacting with all kinds of people with empathy and kindness. In particular, the way my younger brother handled situations like these sticks out to me. He had a friend who was a bit of an outcast (perhaps similar to your situation, the friendship was formed in part because of both mothers being good friends). My brother and several of his other friends were at our house playing video games at one point in high school, and the other friends started to make fun of this other boy. They didn't realize I was within earshot of them. I was blown away to hear my brother say to his other friends, "You know, [So-And-So]'s actually pretty cool if you talk to him about [XYZ topic]."I consider myself to be pretty good with people, and am far more extroverted than my brother. But more than 10 years later, guess who I go to for advice whenever I'm in a tricky social situation?It sounds like your son may already be doing things like this, and like you are encouraging the right behavior. It may feel stressful for him right now, but I think it will pay off in the long run for him to solve problems like now rather than when he is older and there are higher stakes.In terms of what you should say to this other mom, I don't think you should tell her how your son currently feels - it's unnecessarily cruel, and I believe it's also quite normal in life for a friendship or relationship to be slightly more important to one person than the other (plus this can ebb and flow over time). You may want to alert her to the fact that her son is being bullied if she does not know.p.s. "Avoidance" solution: maybe your son can also make a few friends who live on different blocks in your neighborhood so he can play outside without hurting your neighbor's feelings.