Rene,

I’m having a big argument with my best friend at the moment – and would love your help.

Andrea and I have been friends for 20 years and grew up together (we’re now in our late thirties). We both have children around the same age – my son Andrew, 9 and her son Robert, 10.

Recently I caught Robert stealing money from my purse while he was playing at our house. I was very angry with him, told his mother, and have forbidden Andrew from playing with his friend for the time being.

Andrea thinks I over-reacted and said she’d caught my son doing lots of naughty things that she never told me about. She didn’t go into detail but I feel she’s being petty and just trying to deflect blame from her own son’s bad behavior.

What do you think Rene? Am I right – or does my best friend have a point? And how can we resolve this when everyone is feeling so sore.

Thanks

Bella, Indiana


Dear Bella:

WARNING, WARNING, WARNING! Unless you want to see your friendship of two decades implode in spectacular fashion, I would proceed with caution from here on out. It does not matter that Andrea posted bail money for you when you were arrested in Times Square with your underwear on your head and your bra on your bum; it does not matter that you celebrated the discovery of new men with magnums of Champagne or drowned the sorrows of lost employment in bottle after bottle of wine. The fact is this is her child and she will side with him until presented with irrefutable proof that he is a budding kleptomaniac. The question at this point is how to proceed. There’s already a bit of stink in the water with her throwing that ugly bomb out there about your child so here’s what I would recommend…

DON’T BRING UP THIS ISSUE ABOUT HER SON AGAIN: Okay, it’s unfair that Robert took your money and while it really would mess with my sense of what is right and what is wrong, you will not win this battle. As I alluded to before, Andrea will side with the child that sprang forth from her womb over you so you’re going to have to let this go. Don’t bring it up to rehash it; don’t apologize for what has already transpired, especially if that will lead to you wanting to “explain” how it made you feel. Let-it-go.

DON’T BRING UP HER POINT ABOUT YOUR SON: I think you are absolutely correct in that this was, without question, tit-for-tat.  I suspect Andrea, on some level, is aware of her son’s less than stellar behavior and she was trying to get you to cede some of the moral high ground by reminding you that your kid had done some sketchy stuff and that she was the bigger person by not saying anything about it.

IF IT HAPPENS AGAIN, DISTANCE YOURSELF FROM THEM: While it would be unfortunate to see your relationship come to a close, you cannot allow her kid, or anyone for that matter, come into your home and steal from you. At that point you have two options; you can either tell her why you are doing it and if by then she has seen Robert in action, she may be more understanding. Or you can say nothing and let your actions do the explaining.

Bella, I do have to side with Andrea on this one point; I believe banishing Robert from your house and not allowing Andrew to play with his friend was a bit of an overreaction, especially if this was the first offense. What point were you trying to make by doing that? Who were you trying to punish? Because unfortunately Andrew got caught in the wide net that you cast.

The bottom line is this; you’re going to have to decide whether being right and getting your money back is more important that a decades long friendship. Personally what I would do is make sure my cash is hidden when Robert comes over next time and if it happens again, the next time will be the last.

By the way Andrea will know soon enough if Robert is heading down a bad path and she will figure it out without you having to say a word. When and if he gets in serious trouble (which we hope does not happen) you will do the thing friends do best, you will support her, be there for her and refrain from saying I told you so.

Good luck, mommy!

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