Auntie SparkNotes: My Parents Want Me To Dump My Best Friend
I have (or had) the most amazing best friend you could ever think of. Lets call her Penelope. Penelope and I been friends since 5th grade, we've never fought.
Freshman year (of high school) I went with her to her brother's college. We stayed with her brother's girlfriend for the weekend, and while we were there, there was a lot of partying, which of course for college students means drugs and alcohol. While we were there, Penelope drank and smoked. I was surprised, because out of all the time I had known her, I had never known her to drink or do drugs. But she didn't try to persuade me to drink and stuff — actually, she told me not to, and that she knows I'm not the type of person to do that type of stuff. She's never been one to pressure me into things because she was doing it.
But when we got back, my parents went through my phone and saw texts between Penelope and I about the weekend and things that had happened. They were pissed, and interrogated me. They even threatened to drug test me, but after drama, they finally believed me when I said I didn't do anything. But as for Penelope, they were angry with her and her parents that they would expose me to such an environment (even though her parents didn't have a clue what was happening), and they told me Penelope was a terrible influence, and that I can't hang out with her anymore because she is leading herself down a bad path and that she is gonna drag me down along with her.
I understand their concern, but I find it unfair. We've been best friends forever, and they know that, but they want me to just cut her out of my life. They've known her for a while too, but after this incident, all they see is the bad she has done, which isn't much compared to all the great things about her. If we stayed friends, I feel as if I could talk her out of her bad habits, but even with them she was and still is an amazing person. Do my parents have a right to make me cut her from my life? What should I say to my parents? What should I say to Penelope? How do I save our friendship?
But... but... but don't your parents realize that the worst has already happened, and with the best possible outcome?! I mean, you unwittingly found yourself in a party situation, surrounded by people who were drinking and smoking, with no authority figures in sight and nothing but your own personal value system to guide your decisions. And despite being at a veritable buffet of trouble, with all kinds of illicit substances literally inches from your face, you didn't try a single one of them.
You've been through the ultimate trial by fire, and you came through with flying colors.
Which makes it really, extra, super-freakin'-bizarre that your parents believe you could be led anywhere, by anyone, when you've just proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that you're basically impervious to peer pressure.
And that, I think, is where to begin: by picking a quiet moment, reopening this topic with your parents, and pointing out that while they may not approve of Penelope's behavior, she's not their kid—but you are, and you've already shown that you can stand your ground and stay true to your values even in the toughest of situations. It's hard to imagine a more potent illustration of your trustworthiness. And while they might prefer that you were never exposed to an environment where alcohol, etc, is readily available, surely they realize that it's more important that when you do encounter these things—as you inevitably will—you stick to your guns and do what you think is right?
I mean, geez, if anything, they should be patting themselves on the back for having raised you so well, not punishing you for somebody else's poor choices.
Also, while you may not want to say this to your parents, it needs to be said in general: a single incident of youthful experimentation during a college visit hardly makes Penelope a bad influence, or a bad person, or destined to do bad things. The vast majority of teenagers try an illicit substance or two on their way to adulthood, and nearly all of them grow up to be productive members of society; telling you to cut all ties with someone just because she happens to be a normal teenager is a little extreme.
Anyway, give it a try, talk it out, and see if your parents relent a little—at least insofar as letting you and your BFF hang out at school, at your house, or at her place when her parents are home (i.e. times when getting into trouble would be impossible.) And as for Penelope, just explain to her that while you love her as much as ever, the discovery of your weekend secrets means you can't spend as much time together, not forever, but at least for the foreseeable future. Because while your parents can tell you where you are and aren't allowed to go, or who you are and aren't allowed to spend time with, their authority stops at telling you who you can and can't keep as a friend.
And while your parents can only dictate your activities for another couple of years, an amazing best friend who cares about you and supports your decisions, even then they contradict her own, is the kind that's good for life.
Have you ever had to cut off a friend because your parents said so? Tell us in the comments! And to get advice from Auntie, email her at email@example.com.
Want more info about how this column works? Click for the Auntie SparkNotes FAQ.