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CHIZUK-----dealing with a friend at risk 2

bmguy Posted - 14 November 2000 15:50

I am a 3rd year bm guy in an out of town black hat yeshiva with a high school program. I also went to this yeshiva for high school and know how important it is for high school guys to have a kesher with bm guys (it helped me out a great deal) so I am very close with a lot of the guys in yeshiva.

One of the guys I have gotten a little close with has some problems which I am trying to help him with. His parents are divorced although he is pretty close with both of them.

This is his main problem; he is in 10th grade and has been going out with this girl since 8th grade. He is also not shomer with her("just" hugging and kissing). I talk to him about it and have told him all the problems with it.

But he says he needs her bec she is a real close friend and can tell her anything (I’m sure he also likes her bec he is attracted to her) and I understand where he is coming from bec for a kid with a broken home, a lot of times they feel they need someone to love bec they may not get it enough at home.

So I have told him all the basic problems with it, but it doesn’t really bother him, and have told him that its really not worth it talking from experience( I talked to girls a bit in high school too). Can u give me some advice on how to help him out?

MODERATOR Posted - 14 November 2000 17:31

Yes. You need to be that person in this boy’s life that fills the gap he has at home, not the girl. You will not be able to replace the girl – she offers what you cannot - but you can perhaps displace her.

His relationship with her will probably not last. They are likely to get into a fight, and if we’re lucky, break up. At that point, you want to have already developed with this boy a very close friend/mentor relationship. He may ask you advice about whether to continue the relationship with her, or he may look to you for the emotional security that will allow him to make the move and dump her. Or he may get dumped and then there will be an “ais ratzon” for someone beneficial to get connected to him. This will only work if:

1) You will be a close, reliable, loyal and caring friend all during the time that he does NOT respond to your guidance, meaning when he is still with the girl. You cannot be a friend in order to help him.

This is a tragic flaw in many of the so-called “at-risk youth mentoring programs that abound today. The mentor is only a friend because they want to “save” the youth. Perhaps they even got paid to do so. This is no good. Here’s the rule: DO NOT BE A FRIEND BECAUSE YOU WANT TO HELP; HELP BECAUSE YOU ARE A FRIEND. So even if you see you are getting nowhere, it should not matter. Care about him for real, for what he is, not because he’s your Mitzvah project.

2) You will not hassle him about this girl. If he’s not going to listen you, you have zero obligation to hassle him or even mention anything negative about his relationship with the girl. Fact: he’s with her, whether you like it or not. Get used to it, live with it, and treat it as any part of his life.

If he wants to complain about something that happened with her, listen to him. Ignore the fact that what he is doing is wrong, and concentrate on the fact that he is doing it and you would prefer that he seek guidance from you rather than some loser kid on the street.

Of course, you are not permitted to say anything to indicate that you APPROVE or ENCOURAGE him to have to do with girls, but recognizing the reality of an unfortunate situation and dealing with it is not the same as approving of it.

From that point, your best friend is time. There will be a time – probably many times – when this kid’s connection with this girl will be on the rocks. But you will only be able to do something then if you were there for him, honestly and sincerely, all this time.

For now, your focus should be on the other, non-girl aspects of the relationship, such as helping him with his parents, his Rebbeim, and whatever other issues where he is open to suggestions.

And care about him, a lot.

Time is on your side. It may take months, or even a year. But in the end he will thank you.

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