I’m very close with my niece and her family and admire how well she and her husband have guided their two children through the stresses of home schooling and all-around tensions during the pandemic. Their son is 17, their daughter is 15.
One thing stands out regarding their eldest child: He and a girl he met at summer camp four years ago have been hanging out together ever since they were both 13. Now, they’re known as “a couple” among their friends, even though they couldn’t attend parties, go to movies together etc.
They’ve sensibly worn masks, distanced etc. and understood they couldn’t get together during lockdowns. They’d get together online for long chats, text frequently, and when possible, go for walks or hang out together outside.
With summer here, they’re both hoping to be vaccinated and “date” openly - my nephew says that even going out for a patio pizza together and holding hands during a walk will be terrific!
But I’m looking ahead. They’re both good students going to university next fall. It’s not certain that they’ll go to the same one though each has been accepted at more than one.
As a teacher myself, I know how overwhelming the new education level and social life can be. My nephew’s a sensitive-feeling guy as well as outgoing and athletic.
I’ve seen former high-school relationships drift apart under the pressure of heavier study demands, college sports, and meeting new people.
I fear my nephew would be devastated by a break-up, which could affect his schooling, and his self-confidence. What advice would you offer him and his parents regarding this major change ahead?
He’s lucky to have guiding parents and caring relatives. But it’s life experience that provides the necessary learning curve to help young people adapt to the complexities of the adult world.
A very experienced social worker in the education system once responded to my asking a similar question from a letter-writer about a besotted teenager reeling from a break-up.
The answer: “Better to experience the reality of relationship disappointment when young with few outside complications.
Adult breakups, by contrast, are more likely to involve children, finances, jobs, in-laws, and be disruptive much longer.
This young man and his girlfriend too, have backup resources in their parents, relatives, plus previous successes both at school and in this relationship.
With support and encouragement, your nephew and his girlfriend, too, will do fine. Especially if any signs of serious distress are taken seriously, and professional therapy provided.
Reader’s Commentary Regarding the woman, 39, who’s searched for a partner who’ll accept her few basic “must-haves” (June 4):
“She was sounding like a very interesting person until she stated that when there’s a chance for marriage: “I must be formally married, not move together as common-law partners. And I must have children, however we can.”
“As someone who’s at the end of an extremely acrimonious divorce, marriage is definitely not in my foreseeable future (maybe distant future).
“For the letter-writer, at 39, the likelihood is high that anyone she meets would be past at least one marriage. So, I think she needs to fully re-evaluate her priorities.
“Are her “strong needs” more important than a caring man, or could a caring man actually be more important than her “strong needs?” It seems that her priorities are not working very well for her so far. Something to consider.”
My son’s best friend at middle school has been diagnosed with cancer. He’ll be having chemotherapy for the next six months.
As a friend of the mother, I feel helpless. But I’m not sure what I can do because it’s also still during Covid times.
So, everyone who’s involved with the family still has to be extra cautious regarding keeping her son from further complications while his health is so compromised. I can’t hug the mother, though she surely needs many hugs!
Organise a “meal train” where different friends drop off meals on assigned days. Make sure your son stays in contact with his friend regularly via text/phone. Also, he could organize a zoom video from a group of the boy’s friends from school.
Meanwhile, keep up your own texts of love and support to the mother, letting her know that that you and others are thinking of her, her husband, and their son.
Tip of the day:
Romantic young couples need to experience their own relationship journey. Barring any worrying signals, supportive family needs to stand by until asked and/or needed.