• Agony Aunt

Jan 30, 2018-


Dear Aunt, 

I am a 31-year-old teacher. I have been teaching for a couple of years now, and never have I found myself in such a confusing situation. I have recently developed feelings for an 18-year-old student. I feel that my feelings for her are genuine, and maybe even that the attraction is mutual. But there are too many challenges that are keeping me from telling her about my feelings. Firstly, I am afraid of the rejection. Secondly, the stakes are high, if the word gets out, I could lose my job. And then of course, even if everything works well for us, there is the age gap. How do I deal with this situation? I have been emotionally disturbed for some time now. All I want to do is pour my heart out to her and see where this goes. 

—Mr T 

Dear Mr T, 

It is possible to become attracted to anybody of any age, at any place. But there’s also a time and place for everything. The rejection and the age gap are secondary problems here. You are the teacher, she’s your student. And ethical boundaries should be your primary concern. Even if it were to work, you are talking about a teenager who still has to figure out who she is and what she wants out of life. You on the other hand are an adult with responsibilities, so you might as well behave like one. All you need to do about the situation is absolutely nothing. Don’t make any move. Don’t dream of a future together. Don’t pour your heart out to the girl. It is going to be a disaster. You are definitely going to lose your job, and destroy the life you have worked so hard to build. What you feel for her could be fleeting and it is definitely not worth pursuing. After all, you only feel what you allow yourself to feel. You need to know that what you feel and what you do about your feelings is absolutely under your control. So, for now, sort your feelings out, find more productive preoccupations, and let go. Love will find its way to you, this is not love; this is a disaster waiting to happen.


Growth pangs

Dear Aunt, 

I have an adolescent sister who is going to appear in the SEE exams at the end of this year. I love her, care for her a lot, and being the elder brother, I feel responsible for her. Since she started grade 10, I have noticed some marked changes in her behavioural pattern. While she should be focusing on her academics, she seems more concerned about what she wears, and how she looks. She has suddenly become a social butterfly who’s out and about all the time. She spends most of her weekdays hanging out with her friends. She has also been very aloof at home. And if we intervene, she creates a fiasco at home. She is turning into a brat and we are increasingly feeling that it is getting difficult to deal with her. I know this comes with the age. But I also know she is vulnerable and prone to making mistakes that could ruin her life. I am just worried that somebody might exploit her innocence. Can you tell me if there’s a way that I can communicate my concerns to my sister and keep her safe? 


Dear Dimple, 

Your sister is at the peak of her teenage years. And you are right, this is a tough age to be in emotionally. Your concerns are valid too. At 16 or 17 youngsters are both volatile and vulnerable. It is great that you are concerned about her and want to keep her safe, but the key here might be trust. If you want to keep her safe, give her a sense of confidence. When you are dealing with her, don’t treat her like a child. Treat her like an adult who is capable of making decisions and who is responsible for the decisions she makes. The more you treat her like a poor young lady who needs saving, the more she will want to break out of the shell and go on testing her boundaries. The more you treat her like a naïve person, the higher the chances are that she’ll do everything to prove you wrong. Don’t tell her what to do or not do. Just tell her that she is mature enough to look after herself but if she ever needs someone to fall back on, you’re there for her. Tell her that she is old enough to decide where she wants to go and who she wants to hang out with, but, if she ever finds herself in a difficult situation you’re there to give her any support she needs. At this age, she doesn’t need an authoritative elder brother, she needs an understanding friend. This is also an age where the teenagers don’t get along with their parents, so you want to make her feel that you’re on her side at all times. This way, at least one person in the family will know what’s going on in her life. 

Published: 30-01-2018 09:13

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