Dad con­cerned about son’s friend

The Commercial Appeal - - Sports -

I am a 41-year-old hap­pily mar­ried man with three beau­ti­ful chil­dren. I have cre­ated a prob­lem that I have no idea how to re­solve.

My youngest son, Jor­dan, is 15 years old. He is an amaz­ing and com­pas­sion­ate young man who cares deeply for oth­ers.

When he was 12, he be­friended a fa­ther­less boy in his class. “Ray” is a sweet, lov­ing boy who seemed to need a fa­ther fig­ure in his life. Over the past three years, we have made him feel like one of the fam­ily and have of­ten in­cluded him in fam­ily out­ings. I have grown very fond of him and will of­ten greet him with a hug. He seems to see me as a role model.

A few weeks ago, Ray spent the week­end with us. On the first night, I went to Jor­dan’s room to tell them good night. I still give my son a good­night kiss.

Maybe he is get­ting too old for that, but he has never protested. This night, Ray asked me for a kiss, too.

He said he feels as if I’m sort of his adopted dad. I prob­a­bly should not have done it, but I gave him a quick good-night kiss on the fore­head.

I hon­estly did not think much of it at the time, but Ray started chang­ing af­ter that. He be­came very clingy and started try­ing to give me mul­ti­ple hugs when­ever he vis­ited.

Yes­ter­day I re­ceived a long email from Ray ex­press­ing his love and at­trac­tion for me, say­ing he thinks I feel the same way about him. He talked of his de­sire to take our re­la­tion­ship to a new level and said he has never felt this way about an­other guy.I was stunned.

I have not re­sponded, but I did share it with my wife. She feels I need to im­me­di­ately set him straight, tell him he is no longer wel­come here and tell his mother what hap­pened. That seems like a log­i­cal so­lu­tion, but I re­ally don’t want to hurt him. I re­al­ize he is con­fus­ing his feel­ing of me as a fa­ther fig­ure and ro­man­tic/sex­ual feel­ings.

I do want to be clear: I take full re­spon­si­ble for this sit­u­a­tion. I don’t blame Ray. Per­haps I gave him too much at­ten­tion.

Be­cause this is such a delicate sit­u­a­tion and I don’t know the full de­tails of Ray’s back­ground (his re­la­tion­ship with his mom, over­all sup­port sys­tem, etc.), I’d en­cour­age you to reach out to someone who spe­cial­izes in coun­sel­ing LGBTQ youths. The Trevor Project is a great re­source. Call its 24/7 hot­line at 866-4887386. I’d also rec­om­mend re­ply­ing to Ray’s email with kind­ness and di­rect­ness, clearly stat­ing that you have no ro­man­tic in­ter­est in him what­so­ever and are sorry that things have been mis­con­strued.

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