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Concerned Friend Or Meddling Nark?

Everyone says they'd want a friend to tell them if something was going on with their kid. But do they mean it?

We all say we’d want a friend to tell us if something was going on with our kids. But how many of us feel comfortable enough to drift out of our lane when our friends’ children are veering off course?

When our dear daughter or dear son was in elementary school, it was easier to openly discuss what the kids were up to. Now that they’re in middle and high school, we’re dealing with real stuff — some of it just troubling and some of it downright dangerous.

If it’s a matter of safety, we can all agree you speak up no matter what. But, what about cases like these where it may just be none of your business? Do you owe your friend a heads up — and risk losing her if she becomes defensive or embarrassed? O— or, do you reason that her teen is old enough to make his or her own mistakes and deal with the consequences?

“My daughter’s boyfriend showed up stoned to a family barbecue. They’re both 14. I sent him home in an Uber. I didn’t tell his mom why he left early. Should I have?”

“My daughter and a few of her friends were at a party. When they got home, I overheard one of them saying my friend’s son got a blow job while he was there. They’re all high school freshman. I’ve known this boy, and his family, since he was in first grade! I know his mom doesn’t know he’s sexually active. Do I tell her?”

“My son told me his friend keeps trying to cheat off him in class. I told him to move seats and he’s doing his best. He also says the boy writes the answers on his leg under his shorts. Or, he tries to get answers off his Apple Watch. He thinks his friend is going to get busted. I do, too. And it will go down on his transcript when he applies to college next year. I feel like I should warn my friend, but my son said no way because he’ll know it came from him.”

“I saw what I consider to be really inappropriate photos of my friend’s daughter on her Instagram page. My daughter tells me ‘they’re not that bad!’” I’d be mortified if she was posting shots like these. But who am I to police someone else’s middle school child?”

When deciding to clue someone in, ask yourself how good the source of your info is. Is it rock solid? Then perhaps you should proceed. How close are you to this friend and what kind of landing pad can you expect? Will your convo be received in the spirit it was intended? If not, is the fallout something you can live with — and still feel good about your decision? If so, then proceed. Are you violating someone else’s trust (namely your kid’s) by sharing the damaging info? Will the consequences for you be worse than if you had kept your mouth shut?

There’s a lot to consider. It comes down to the tone and content of your delivery. Be honest, caring and end with this: “I hope I haven’t upset you, and I know that this may not be the entire story.” How the rest unfolds is out of your hands.

But what would you do?