Ask Rene: Help!
I Have An Intolerant Teenager!


Hi Rene,

My almost 17-year-old daughter is dating a boy that knows her zero tolerance position on drinking, smoking pot etc. This young man has been the perfect gentleman and has treated her very well. They are good friends and go to church activities and school functions together with a good group of kids.

However she recently found out that he tried alcohol and got sick. He is a football player and was pressured by the seniors on the team. She now says she hates him and never wants to speak with him again. I am trying to stay in a neutral position. I know how hard peer pressure is and I know he is in a no win position. The main issue is he lied and she found out thru a friend.

I am very proud of my daughter’s morals and values but I feel she is becoming very judgmental. She also has mentioned she hates her older brother (who is 21 and in college) because he drinks. She feels that I am taking the opposition side. I want her to stay true to herself and still accept her friends regardless of their mistakes. Any thoughts to send her way???




Hi Mom:

It’s nice to see our kids stand up for something and even better when that something is in line with our own moral code. However, be it due to youthful exuberance or inexperience, kids seem to have a very black or white view of the world. The hope is that with a little life experience and as their social circles widen, they learn more and become more tolerant.

When I was a young college student, living on my own and working as a waitress at TGI Fridays, I met all kinds of people. Up until that time I had a pretty sheltered existence that included going to school, going to church and going to work. My friends all tended to be white, straight and from families who made around the same amount of money as my family did. But when I got out on my own and my circle of friends and experiences widened, I became more tolerant of people who were different from me. That included people whose political leanings and religious beliefs were unlike mine, the first lesbian I’d had ever met, those who smoked dope and liked to party and those who lived to study. My world began to reflect the real world, with all these different types of people in it.

Now that’s not to say that I bent like a reed in the wind; I did not. I still had my moral compass and code intact but I was not so intolerant that I couldn’t be friends with them. I learned how to appreciate them for who they were, even if I did not accept what they did.

There are three things I would suggest with regard to your daughter:

1. Teach Tolerance

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As I said, this does not mean you have to cede any moral ground but you do need to teach your daughter that not everyone believes the same as you do. One of the things I find so wonderful is that when I hang with people different from myself, I learn from them and am exposed to experiences I might not have otherwise had.