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Recently an issue has arisen with my 13 year old son and a girl he was "dating". While they were dating, I was one of those parents that always went through his phone and read messages.

I was relieved when they broke up because some of the things she was saying to him made me nervous.

At school two weeks ago she was calling him names, telling him he was worthless, and just kept pushing. He then retaliated and said he hated her and wanted to slit her throat. (He doesn't really; he was angry.)

We spoke about dealing with anger and being hurt in different ways, e.g. try to stay away from her and avoid any potential of having an altercation. We spoke about the severity of death threats and the repercussions. Then today he said something to her out loud on the school yard to the effect of "you're going to get raped someday".

I have not spoken to him yet, and I am unsure as to how to approach this. He is generally a really good kid, good manners, well behaved, helpful...

I think that these two kids are just toxic for each other.

  • Where is he picking up these words and phrases? – Dan Henderson Mar 23 '16 at 20:30
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    @DanHenderson With a 13 year old, the issue isn't about picking up words or phrases. He would know exactly what these things mean. The issue is more about where he's picking up these kinds of attitudes. – user1751825 Mar 24 '16 at 0:00
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    Well we had a long talk about treating women and people in general with respect. We also had a long conversation about what rape is and what comes along with it. I had to come clean to my 13 year old son about my experience which was hard but I thought he needed to hear it to get the picture. I then gave him the choice to phone his dad (we are divorced) and tell him what happened. Which he did. He shows great regret and remorse for what he has done. And as a punishment he is grounded from all electronics and social media. – Melanie Mar 24 '16 at 0:13
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    You might want to assess who he's associating with. These attitudes have come from somewhere. Friendships change a lot at that age. It would be best if you can help guide him to choose better friends. – user1751825 Mar 24 '16 at 0:55
  • I have done this. We also spoke about friends and who is looking out for him and who isn't and the type of people we should surround our selves with. – Melanie Mar 24 '16 at 11:31
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There are things that no one should ever say no matter how toxic a relationship is, and those are two of them. Wishing that someone who is making your life miserable would die is probably more common than we would like to admit; however threatening them with such graphic violence is not (in my limited experience). The repercussions for this kind of talk are vast (from quasi-legal to social) and maybe difficult to appreciate for a 13 year old, so talking to him about it may not be enough.

I would involve the school counselor now. They have ways to intervene between the two of them that you don't. They may also have him assessed for anger issues he shows at school, and hopefully keep an eye out for other potentially painful things (for example, ostracism) that they can discuss with him. If he gets such counseling, it may help.

I would also insure there were significant consequences for this kind of self-expression at home. This isn't just a school issue. It's a values issue.

Maybe it's not popular, but I would make him apologize, as I would want anyone who said anything of this nature to one of my own children to own up to the wrongness of their behavior.

Continue doing what you're doing (discussions, options, etc.), keep lines of communication and self-expression open, and talk to him about how, why, and how deeply this person has hurt him. To understand that other people don't always hurt us because we somehow deserve it helps a lot.

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  • Frankly, in this case I would not insist on a single-sided apology. If I read OP correctly, the former gf was way out of line as well, possibly even starting it. In such a scenario, it may mean that he's seen as weak by the peer group. We are talking teens here, who usually don't admire so. for taking the high road. Mutual, preferably sincere, apologies after a successful talk with a counselor otoh are a good thing. – Stephie Mar 26 '16 at 6:03
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    @Stephie - Does the boy's threats make him appear "strong" to his peers, that he should lose this? It seems to me that an apology might make him seem less threatening to his peers. Regardless of what other people do, we are responsible for our own actions. Doing the right thing should not be dependent on what someone else does or doesn't do. Her apology is her choice. I would be more concerned that my son do the right thing. – anongoodnurse Mar 27 '16 at 15:32
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    The problem with this advice is that it is nearly guaranteed to fail to work - the way you suggest approching this will seem to the child as if you are taking the side of his adversary. Unless it is explicitly paired with showing that the parent is on their side (e.g. only apologize if the other person apologizes for their comments), all your advice will do is isolate and anger the child further, since the ONLY person who was supposed to be 100% in their corner (the parent) is - in the child's view - against them now. – user3143 Mar 28 '16 at 15:39
  • @user3143 - I don't see it that way. The last paragraph is important - it advises to discuss her bad behavior and how hurtful it is, how it was not necessarily his fault. I think owning one's behavior is important regardless of what the other party does. – anongoodnurse Mar 28 '16 at 16:32
  • @anongoodnurse - I completely agree about the latter part (owning up) being important. My point is with the approach, not the outcome/goal - efficacy of different approaches would differ. – user3143 Mar 28 '16 at 16:34

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