Taking Care of Hashem’s Children Bnei Melachim Provides Much-Needed Support for Widows and Orphans

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Dear Jido,

I’m 15 years old and I feel like I’m living in a prison every day of my life. My parents never let me hang out with my friends, because they think that they are a bad influence on me. The only times I’m allowed to go outside of my home are to walk to my cousin’s house (which is across the street), or to walk to the nearby diner (which is a block away). I’m losing my old friends and I’m finding it difficult to make new friends. Whenever my classmates come to my house to ask me if I want to go out with them, I have to decline because of my parents. I’m finding it out harder and harder to continue to obey their rules and I’m thinking of ‘escaping’ from this prison. Any suggestions?


Prisoner in my Own Home

Dear Prisoner,

There are two possibilities – either your parents are right in that they see things in your friends that you may not be able to see in them — or you are right and your parents need to be convinced that you are responsible enough and savvy enough to choose your friends wisely.

Let’s explore the second possibility. I must first comment on your remarkable level of maturity, which you show by turning to this old man for advice rather than rebelling against your parents’ wishes. That alone could be justification enough that you deserve a level of trust that is far beyond what other 15-year-olds may deserve. Even your willingness to hear opposing sidesis unusual in someone of your age.

But let’s think about that first possibility. Sadly, there are many serious issues facing the adolescents of our community. Whether we like to hear it or not, we have become subject to many of the ills facing society at large. Too many of our youngsters are already dealing with the problems of gambling, alcohol, cigarettes, and worst of all, drugs. These boys and girls are OTD (off the derech) and it’s concerning.

It is quite possible that your parents might know something about your young friends, or their families, that would not be known to you, a teenager. In speaking with other parents (always for the good of their children), they may have heard things that send up a red flag about your friends, their siblings, or their parents.

 The last thing a child wants to hear is that his friends are “no good.” That signals to him that his parents don’t trust his judgment or, worse, that they think his actions are just as undesirable as those of his friends; after all, birds of afeather flock together. Here’s another reason why this might be unpleasant for the child: Perhaps, on some level, he knows that these friends really do pose a danger to his wellbeing – he just doesn’t want to admit it.

By sending this letter you make it obvious that you want to do the right thing. Your parents will
respect that.

As always, I recommend dialogue – having a meaningful conversation with them about this. The fact that you have come forward confidentially and asked for help will surely open up a new discussion with your parents – a discussion that will unlock the doors to a better future for you.