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Advice: Rebel without a cause

July 08, 2012

Dear Auntie,

I am 16 years old. My best friend (let’s call her X) is dating a boy who is three years older than us. She met him on a social networking site.

X bunked tuitions to go on dates with him and that has adversely affected her studies. I tried to explain to her the disadvantages of dating people at our age, but she just doesn’t seem to understand. Her parents caught her twice and she got grounded but she just won’t give up! I keep telling her that if her parents find out about this she will lose their trust and they will get infuriated.

Secondly there were ‘rumours’ spread about X and most of the people in our school dislike her because of all the things that they believe she has done. I’m just worried about my own reputation. If I hang out with her, people will think I’m just like her. What should I do? Should I un-friend her to save my reputation? Please help me.


Dear Friend

There is nothing wrong with being in love at the age of 16… in fact, it is quite normal. Your friend is besotted and will go to any lengths to be with her BF, which may adversely affect her and her future. You’ve told her as much. Now, do you realise that there is only so much you can do? You have advised your friend against the relationship as have her parents, but she ain’t listening, so just let her be. Some lessons just need to be learnt the hard way. Or maybe there is no lesson to be learnt. Maybe this BF and this relationship is the one. Who can tell?

As for your reputation, it’s a tossup between being a good friend to your best friend or worrying about an imagined reputation people will cook up in their heads in the future. Do you realise that the latter is nonexistent? Do you also realise that people who revel in destroying your character for no reason — other than the fact that you hang out with someone who goes out on dates with her BF — are not worth the time of day? I don’t think this is such a difficult decision.

Chill please.

Dear Naani Amma

I am a concerned mother who is worried about my daughter aged 16. I have one younger son, but my daughter is becoming very problematic. She is a good student who does very well in school. All the teachers praise her but I am a little worried these days because of the way she has started dressing. She has got her ears pierced in several places and also her nose and eye brows. She puts on dark eye makeup when she goes out and has also cut her hair very, very short recently. I get very embarrassed when she goes out with me as people start looking at her. She also wears t-shirts with strange things written on them and only wears black or dark purple. My husband is also very worried about her. I don’t know what to do. Please help.


Dear Mummyji,

Your daughter is at an age where you have to decide what all you will tackle and what you will just let be. You cannot and should not expect that there’s a magic wand out there that you will wave over her head and turn her into a shalwar kameez-wearing teenager who will obediently make rotis for your dinner while her peers hang out at the mall.

Your daughter is getting good grades and there have been no complaints from school which means that generally she is a smart and well-behaved kid. This new ‘look’ is thus just a form of experimentation — very common at this age — and not a statement of some drastic lifestyle change that includes drugs and other evils. She was a good student before the Goth look and she still is.

What can you do? You and your husband should set down some rules such as no cuss words on t-shirts, no tattoos, fewer piercings. Tell your daughter what the rules are and fight your battles where needed. For instance, you can decide that she can wear black and purple clothes but the offensive messages printed on them have to go.

Some stuff you can just let be. For instance her hair. It will grow back (so let her keep it short) and her makeup will probably tone down over the years. These things are manageable.

Her ‘look’ is probably coming from the group of friends that she is hanging out with. Approach this in a balanced way and allow her to rebel a bit. Just be clear about stuff that matters and that doesn’t. Give her some leeway where she can keep a bit of her ‘look.’ But don’t compromise on the serious stuff.

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