Sunday, September 4, 2016

Teacher's pet...or something else?

Dear Rhonda and Dr. Cheri,

My son and his girlfriend are seniors in high school. She’s been the school’s volleyball darling since she was a freshman.

One of her coaches is a younger married man.

My son has been a good boyfriend for almost two years. He did confess to intimate relations with his girlfriend.

We had many discussions with him about pregnancy, STDs, and being emotionally too young for this relationship. But he seems responsible and he says he loves his girlfriend and she loves him.

My son became jealous of her volleyball coach last year. He says the coach flirts with his girlfriend. He says the coach is always paying extra attention to her.

Now that they are back to school, my son exploded with anger at his girlfriend because she was flirting back with her coach. He also saw the coach stroke her thigh.

His girlfriend started crying and said she was just “the teacher’s pet” … a term, evidently, that the coach uses with her. She told my son that she was just “being extra nice” because she wants to get a scholarship to college and the coach is helping her.

I went to a game to see with my own eyes what was going on. I felt the coach was paying too much attention to her and hugged her for an inappropriate length of time.

Do I interfere and tell the principal?

Tattle – teller

Dear Tattle – teller,

This isn’t a situation about telling on someone or not. It’s a serious adult problem that your son is facing.

His outrage is a predictable outcome from jealousy and anger that often happens when a teenage boy is too young and immature (that’s normal for his age) to handle a romantic and intimate relationship … which is why we recommend abstinence for our high school students, regardless of their religious beliefs.

The reality is that you and your son do not know if the coach has gone beyond what you have witnessed. You do not want to directly approach and accuse the coach, which could signal an unspoken and unintended green light for your son to act on his anger in a violent behavior.

We believe two actions you may take could help:

    Without your son’s knowledge (this is your choice and not your son’s), visit the principal and tell that person what you have told us. Only provide the exact facts. The insinuation of anything else is only gossip.

    Talk with your son again about how you understand his feelings of love for his girlfriend, but that it would be the most emotionally healthy decision, to stop his intimate relationship.

Tell your son to resist declaring his assessment and judgment of his girlfriend’s relationship with her coach. Tell him that he has control over his own decisions and the ensuing consequences.

From our experience, the principal will investigate any inappropriate relationships their coach may have with students. The truth is usually exposed in these situations. By the way, teachers who have non-nefarious “teacher’s pets” are still creating unfair and dysfunctional relationships with our youth.

Rhonda and Dr. Cheri

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