Ask Amy: Should I snitch on my son’s friends?

Dear Amy: I’m a mom of a young teenager. I’ve worked hard to foster a sense of trust and accountability.

I’ve asked my teen to be open with me about the actions of friends and acquaintances, good and bad, and have promised that in return for their honesty, I will not “snitch” unless a friend is in a serious situation (e.g. threats of suicide, hard drugs, weapons, pregnancy, etc.).

Recently my teen shared with me that some friends are starting to vape, experiment with pot, and sometimes receive sexually explicit material from other teens (or people pretending to be teens, I suspect).

I am grateful that my teen is open with me.

However, I never expected that my request for honesty would open up so many credible examples of “good” kids doing bad things, including possibly being victims of sextortion.

I want to run to these parents and tell them what’s happening, but I don’t want to break trust with my child and make that child a “snitch” in the mind of the local youth.

Can you help me navigate a path that allows me to share what I’ve learned with parents while not making my child the bad guy – and not breaking the trust I have with my child?


– Torn in CA

Dear Torn: So far, the things your child is telling you about are within the norm for many teens, who do experiment, push boundaries, and definitely try things that they know they’re not supposed to do. They are surrounded by messages that they should not vape, smoke, drink alcohol, or use pot. And yet – “good kids” do these things.

So far, you have not received any reports of “threats of suicide, hard drugs, weapons, pregnancy, etc.,” and so I don’t see any need for you to freak out and alert other parents.

If your teen is extremely worried about a specific person going far down an extremely risky path, you should reach out to that child’s parents. You’re the adult. This is a judgment call you should make.

The only issue you bring up that has an alarming and long-lasting downside is exchanging, receiving, or providing sexual photos. These photos truly do live forever. It is the “forever” concept that stretches a typical teen’s cognitive capacity. They think that they will live forever, but they can’t imagine that their *** pics will, even if they are delivered and received on apps that promise a quick deletion.

I suggest taking your valid concerns about this issue to the school counselor, without the need to supply specifics.

The school must take on the task of educating their students about the risks and negative consequences of ever sending or sharing explicit photos – even between friends or romantic partners. This is a re-emphasis of the lessons and concerns you will discuss honestly with your own teen at home.

• • •

Dear Amy: My in-laws are nice people, but they are very religious and tend to filter everything through their religious beliefs.

My wife and I had our first child (their first grandchild). My wife and I agree on our parenting choices and believe we’re doing well. Her parents, however, like to offer us Christian-based parenting concepts, which they glean from YouTube channels.

I really do love them, but I’d like to discourage this. We do not intend to raise our child in their evangelical church.

What do you suggest?

– Wondering Parents

Dear Wondering: Jesus might have walked on water, but he never had to try to guide a toddler through the grocery store.

Depending on the frequency of these recommendations, as well as how they’re delivered, it might be wisest to simply ignore them. Don’t click, don’t watch, don’t read.

If an in-law asks you and your wife about these resources, you can both state, honestly, that you don’t follow them.

Your wife is probably the best person to convey to her parents that you will not be raising your child in their church. It is your right – and your duty – to raise your child according to your own values.

• • •

Dear Amy: “Wondering” reported that relatives made off with some of grandma’s stuff, before the estate was settled.


Years ago, my mom handed her kids and grandkids a package of sticky notes.

We put sticky notes on items we would like after she was gone. She settled any disputes.

There are sticky notes all over the place but hopefully there will be no arguing afterward.

– No Sticky Fingers

Dear No Fingers: Mom’s a smart one.

Amy Dickinson

Amy Dickinson writes the syndicated advice column, “Ask Amy,” which is carried in over 150 newspapers and read by an estimated 22 million readers daily. Email