12 1/2 Year Old Boy - Age Appropriate Friends

Updated on July 09, 2010
F.H. asks from Phoenix, AZ
18 answers

My son wants to be friends with an 18 yr old male neighbor. The neighbor's little brother is a classmate of my son. My son wants to hang out with the older brother though, not the classmate. The older boy doesn't mind my son's company and has told him that he considers him his friend. They play video games together and listen to music.
My husband set the rules that our son can only have friends that are 1 year younger up to 2 years older.
I know I need to follow my husband's lead, I just wonder what other mother's experiences are regarding age appropriate friends....our son is an only child and doensn't have many friends in the neighborhood.

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answers from Phoenix on

My husband is almost 30, but he has kids that come over and play video games together with him, they are teenagers that play and he doesn't teach them stuff they do not need to know, so if you really the trust the person I think it would be okay.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Phoenix on

I agree with the others. It's not an appropriate age difference, and they are at VERY different stages of "teenagedom". One is not even through puberty yet & the other is technically a man. Not a good idea.

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answers from Minneapolis on

An 18 year old and a 12 year old? Sounds like a recipe for trouble. I can see why the 12 year old thinks the 18 year old is cool but cannot imagine what 18 year old wants to hand with a "little kid". It is that side of the equation I find unsettling. I agree with your husband.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Boston on

I am sorry but he is WAY WAY to young to be hanging around an 18 year old. Not good at all. Your husband it correct on this one. I personally can not see an 18 year old wanting to be around a 12 year old. Big mistake. He maybe a great person at 18 but your son is a still a boy.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from San Diego on

My 7yo kiddo has CLOSE friends that range from 4-12. Big brother/big sister type friends in their teens and early 20's, as well as a number of adult friends in their 30's -90's, and *he's* big brother type friends to numerous toddlers.

I think it depends VERY much on the actual people. These are all GREAT people, & I'm thrilled he has so many amazing people in his life. Here are examples of the "types".

- Close Peer Group Friends: They do everything. Sports, play, humor (my gawd... one more fart joke, and I may go mad), camps, make believe, army in the yard, classes... these are the classic friendships. The ages make a difference... Kiddo's going to be doing different versions of the same kind of play with a 4yo than a 12yo... but same token... he does different types of play with his jock friends than he does with his artsy friends.

- His teen & college student friends tend to be "activity" friends. OR Big Bro type friends AKA... A couple of the local freestyle snowboarders have taken him under his wing and shows him tricks (I'm still on the "bunny" slope). Other activity friends include things like chess, astronomy, gymnastics, mechanics, construction. Essentially an older "kid" has noticed my kiddo loves something they love, and they teach him. They're obviously not PEERS but they're friends. The "Big Bros" are going to make the BEST dads. These are typically activity friends who are down for kid stuff, but some are neighbors who are the "hey kiddo... come help me with this! " or "Come play with us!". They wrestle in the yard, build sand castles, have snowball fights, play soccer/ basketball/ etc., dance in the kitchen as we're cooking or yard as we're grilling, listen to and contribute to wild stories and games, play hide'n'seek, pass on the "best" ways to make a PBJ so it doesn't stick to the roof of your mouth, play board games, etc. Again. NOT peers... but they spend time with my son and share freely their knowledge and joy in the world. SUCH cool people.

- The people I'm unfairly classifying as "adult" friends (because technically the college kids in their early 20's... not to mention non-college early 20 somethings are adults)... are typically DH's and my friends, with children of their own or childless. And do the EXACT same things as activity friends or big bro type friends... but they're *usually* experienced enough / I trust their judgement enough not to have to keep an eye on them. Not always. Sometimes they're retired neighbors, or friends of my parents, or the grandparents of ANY of his other friends (peers or non-peers). The "older" his adult friends the more varies the activities he does with them... because they usually share their expertise with him.. Just this weekend kiddo learned how to frame & drywall (as much as a 7yo can know how to). He's also been shown how to low-crawl by a WWII vet, how to make chocolate truffles by a chocolatier, some basic engine stuff from a mechanic, a wealth of film making by a director friend, how to make robots (simple ones) by a physicist, how to prune a rosebush, how to, how to, how to. Not to MENTION the array of amazing stories from grandparent & great grandparent aged adults in his life. (BTW... watching an 80ish year old man pretend to be back in the trenches after having the kids make a "fort" with furniture... is something I'm going to regret not filming for the REST OF MY LIFE. )

I feel so very BLESSED that my son has all of these people in his life. Yes, people often get shocked when they realize the "playdate" he was talking about with "George" is not one with a 7 year old, but an 85 (86?) year old... or a 22 year old... or a 15yo. But his life is so much the better for all of the people... his FRIENDS.


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answers from New York on

I'm thinking you son my be looking at this young man as an older brother.

As long as this young man is a responsible individual, I think it's excellent that your son has the opportunity to have another positive influence in his life.

I would be concerned about your son spending too much time with the neighbor, rather than spending some time children his own age.... just make sure there's a balance of the two.

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answers from Dallas on

Unless your son will be monitored at all times with the 18 year old - I say no. Inadvertently or even on purpose, the 18 year will expose your son to information that is not age appropriate for a 12 year old. Your husband is on the right track. There is no way I would even consider this an option.

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answers from Honolulu on

Not appropriate.

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answers from Sarasota on

I think it's important that you know the 18 year old well, before letting your son hang out with him. Even 18 year old brothers don't always know what is appropriate for younger kids and this can lead to uncomfortable and sometimes dangerous situations for the younger one. Younger kids don't always know how to leave a situation where they are uncomfortable, even with friends. Maybe you could have the older boy to your house instead. Also, what kind of parental supervision is there? Many questions to answer before allowing this.

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answers from Chicago on

Wow. It makes me really sad to hear how many moms automatically think this is wrong. I was once 18 (weren't all of you?) and had friends of varying ages. When I was a senior, my sister was a freshman, and we all hung out with each other's friends. Why is that creepy or inappropriate? I think that it's very possible that the 18 yr old understands that maybe your son is looking for someone to look up to; how is that inappropriate? Honestly, we jump to such irrational conclusions with absolutely no evidence of anything wrong going on here. I say if you know the boy and feel that it's safe (do you have any evidence to suggest that it's not?) then let him have this kid be his hero. Nothing wrong with that at all. I had one when I was that age.



answers from Phoenix on

Why shouldn't your son have someone to look up to, as long as you know the boy well and know that he is responsible, gets good grades, not into drugs, etc. Do you know the parents well? Why can't your son hang out with both boys since they are brothers? Is your son, being an only child, used to hanging out with you and your husband and other adults rather than the kids? My child sometimes would rather hang out with the adults than the kids because the conversation is more interesting. My husband hung out with his neighbor who was 4 years older and his brother, 8 years older because that's who was in the neighborhood to hang out with. If the older neighbor boy isn't a bad kid, then don't give him a bad rap. Is he a good or bad influence?



answers from Phoenix on

Our 3yo son has little interest in his peers and loves hanging out with older boys and adults. We have no problem with this, but it is very important to us that the situations be safe. We therefore only do supervised and/or outdoor events, and only let him hang out with boys we trust completely.



answers from Phoenix on

I believe that as long as he is a good, trustworthy friend, there should be no limitation on age. Never again in your life will you be in a room with 30 other people the exact same age as you. I believe that having friends of all ages, as long as they're good can be great for your childs social skills and real life situations.



answers from Phoenix on

I wouldn't outright ban the friendship but I would definitely look for a balance or wider range of friendships and most definitely "supervise" this friendship. Have him over to your house where they are in the living room while you are in and out of the room or can see/hear from the other room.

Not all older kids think like older kids though. I have a brother in law who is 17 but much more comfortable playing with pokemon and other things with his nephews who are 7-9 year olds. He's not retarded, that's just the way he is, his emotional development seems to be out of whack with his mental and physical development maybe? I'd STILL keep an eye on him/my son/cousins' play though because - like any kid - some ideas may come up that aren't worthy of pursuing but at the time, they seemed like "great ideas" and just because he is older doesn't mean he is wiser, unfortunately.

A variety of friends of different ages is great, but you do need to know the person and trust their motives first.



answers from Flagstaff on

I understand your husbands concerns yet I think as parents we need to let our kids decide who they should hang out with. Trust in your son and his judgment.



answers from Phoenix on

Listen to what your husband says. An 18 year old's mind is not the same as a younger boys mind. They do not think the same - they are not entertained the same - they do not desire the same things - they are not capable of reasoning the same. Maybe have the boy babysit if you feel you can trust him. Above all - listen to a speak with your husband.



answers from Phoenix on

My kids are much too young to give you a "mother's experience" in this, but I can say that every story my husband told me of his more cringe-worthy childhood experiences came from the times he was hanging out with older boys. And by "cringe-worthy" I mean wildly inappropriate for a 12 year old. I find it highly ironic that someone would suggest that you simply "trust" your son's judgment here, when clearly there is some hero-worshipping going on and your son most likely believes that anything this boy (man, actuallly) says or does is pure gold.

So the question isn't whether or not you trust your son (though, quite frankly, complete trust isn't something a 12 year old should have anyway). The question is whether or not you trust this man.

There are probably only a handful of 18 year old's in this entire country that would actually be a GOOD influence on a 12 year old boy, and the chances of your neighbor being one of them is pretty minimal.



answers from Phoenix on

Who wouldn't want to hang out with the older boy. One problem though is the classmate's feelings. Think about how he feels. His friend comes over to play with him and ends up wanting to spend more time with his older brother. I've seen it often. The boy may not show it, but it hurts. As you said there are not a lot of friends in the neighborhood, and he considers your son a friend.
A 12 year old should not be spending a lot of time indoors anyway. He should be running, jumping, playing with the classmate and spending only a fraction of the time with his older brother, who will probably be leaving for college next year anyway, and when that happens will your son still be playing with that classmate? If not, then it is time to get into a neighborhood sports team or club, or organized hobby/band art class, whatever where he can meet others his age and bond. Do you really want him to spend the bulk of his day unproductively playing video games and listening to music?

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