Unwelcome Attention

Archived Q&A and Reviews

Our neighbor\x92s teenage son waited for my daughter on the way when she came back from school this week. He was standing for a long time or walking very slowly, and as soon as my daughter came, he changed the speed to follow my daughter. My daughter does not like him, because as soon as she comes out from our house, he comes to her and talk about TV sports or something she is not interested at all. My daughter is a hard worker and likes to play sports, so she has good friends to hang out, while we never saw the boy with a friend. His mother told me that he has a learning disability and is in a special education class. The boy spend time playing electric guitar with enormous volume.

When my daughter complained me about his behavior last summer, I observed him. One day he came to the garden and looked at her window and went away. Other day when I was talking to him, his eyes were on my daughter\x92s window. Although his parents were nice, his behavior was alarming.

After the incidence this week, I talked to his mother. I only said that my daughter didn\x92t like when he waited for her and followed her. I also said she doesn\x92t like anybody who waits for her and follows her. Of course the boy denied it. Then his mother jumped on that I said she needs to kill him or put him in a garbage. She said that they had to be together, but I believe my daughter has right to choose whom she wants to be together. Then I received an email from her saying my daughter is \x91Rude and selfish\x92. I would like to have advice from parents who had similar issues. His parents are our landlord.

My daughter had a stalker last year when she protected a boy who was harassed at school. She was not interested in the boy, but she didn\x92t like to see someone was harassed. So she stood up. The boy doesn\x92t have friends, and he started to follow her every day after school. Since it happened it at school, she had friends to stay with her. The boy gradually stopped following her. This time, she was alone, and we don\x92t know how to handle it. I only know she dislikes the neighbor\x92s boy more after this incidence. I am afraid that he is going to continue it. concerned mom

Without personally knowing the individuals and events involved, I am reluctant to say what you should do, although I certainly understand your concern for your daughter and how difficult the situation must feel for her. As the parent of a teenage boy with social difficulties, however, the situation sounds very familiar to me from the other side of the problem.

In the past, my son tried to make friends in ways that felt uncomfortable for others due to his lack of social awareness. Typically, these people had been kind to him, and he mistook their kindness for an an interest in friendship. Because they were nice people, however, they didn't want to hurt his feelings. So, they would say indirect, evasive things about why they had to leave or didn't have time for him (e.g., ''I'm busy right now, maybe next week''), statements that socially adept people immediately understand as nice ways of brushing someone off. My son, however, due to his social blindness, took these excuses at face value (''Oh, I'll ask her again next week!''), not understanding the underlying meaning that his hoped for friend wasn't interested in him. He therefore continued to pursue the connections until one person felt harassed enough to ask a parent to contact me to stop all contact with my son. When I spoke with him about it, he of course felt embarrassed and humiliated (like a fool he said), because he really hadn't understood what was going on. (As an aside, he now goes by the rule that if someone doesn't make an effort to reciprocate his interest, don't ask them again.)

Which I guess is all a long way of suggesting that you might consider the possibility that the boy really lacks social understanding and it might be appropriate for your daughter to tell the boy directly, gently, but firmly that she already has enough friends, that she isn't interested in spending more time with him and that she feels uncomfortable when he approaches her on the street. Perhaps my son's situation has no similarities with your daughter's situation, but, if it does, I know this won't be easy for her or for anyone else. At least she has her mother who cares about her and her many friends to support her. For the boy, however, who may not have all the support he needs and may feel very alone due to an inability to interpret and connect with people, the kindest and most effective thing may be for your daughter to tell him gently yet directly how she feels. I hope that everything turns out well for you and your daughter. another mom