Dear Amy: My son graduated from high school recently and a few weeks later discovered, via social media, that his six best high school friends went on a graduation trip to Europe without him.
They made sure he wouldn’t know about this trip ahead of time and obviously didn’t invite him.
It’s not clear to either of us why they did this.
He reached out to a couple of them via text, and didn’t really get any explanation.
Now that they’re back, he still hasn’t asked them about it.
I can’t help but wonder, where were the parents in all of this? Why didn’t any of them tell their kids that this is no way to treat a friend?
Should I say something to the other moms (I’m not close with any of them), or do I let my son work it out with these “friends”?
He was devastated, and I feel like this is eating him up inside.
I’m afraid it’s the sort of rejection or betrayal that you don’t get over that easily.
He’s leaving for college soon and I’m concerned that this will prevent him from creating new friendships and trusting people.
I realize he’s got to choose and fight his own battles, but this one was really tough.
Am I overreacting? Should I ask the other moms what led to this, or do I let him figure it out?
— Angry Mom
Dear Angry: I agree that this is a very upsetting episode for your son to process.
However, this is not a second-grader’s birthday party, where lessons about friendship and inclusion are conveyed through parents.
These teens have deliberately left out one friend (and possibly more people who believe they are in this tight friendship circle).
Your job is to convey to your son how monumentally this stinks. You can add that, even though you want to drive around and TP their houses, you’re not going to do that. And then ask, “So how can I help you through this?”
He will likely tell you that he’s fine, even if he isn’t.
Emphasize that the mature way to handle this sort of choice (on their part) is openly and honestly.
But people aren’t always open and honest when they suspect they will hurt someone’s feelings.
Encourage your son to behave in a way his buds didn’t — honestly telling them how he feels. (“I am really bummed to see that you guys took this trip without even letting me know.”)
A couple of these guys might respond, but maybe not.
The most important communication channel for your son is the one between the two of you. Keep this channel open, letting your son know that you are always and forever on his side.
On to college. Onward toward new friends, new anxieties, and new challenges — for both of you.
Dear Amy: Recently I complimented a woman after her 60th birthday by saying, “You look good for 60.”
She grunted, “What is 60 supposed to look like?”
Where did I go wrong?
— Bewildered Bachelor
Dear Bewildered: I’m going to sidestep my own observations on why you might be a “bachelor,” and head straight to your bewilderment.
Where did you go wrong? Oh, let me count the ways.
First of all, it’s not necessary to comment on someone’s looks in any context — unless they invite you to.
As the woman you damned with faint praise implied through her pointed response, you’ve made an assumption of what 60 is supposed to look like, and — quite simply — we 60-year-old crones have the right to reject your assumption.
There is only one context where this comment might be received positively, and that would be on the day of this woman’s 90th birthday.
The great news is that you can test-drive this “compliment” again … in 30 years.
Dear Amy: I agree with your assessment and response to “Not Laughing Anymore.”
In my marriage, I was the sarcastic one who put down my wife.
My patient wife put up with it for too long.
Once diagnosed with anxiety and alcoholism and treated with a low-dose medication and some therapy, I am now no longer on the alcohol misuse spectrum and no longer feel compelled (yes, it was a compulsion) to be the “funny, sarcastic guy” at my wife’s expense.
It took about a year to work through this.
That was 12 years ago, and I’m now happily married for 41 years.
Dear Recovered: Thank you so much for this revealing admission — and congratulations on your recovery.
(You can email Amy Dickinson at [email protected] or send a letter to Ask Amy, P.O. Box 194, Freeville, NY 13068. You can also follow her on Twitter @askingamy or Facebook.)
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