Is my son is helping his best friend's girlfriend too much?

Laura - posted on 10/24/2014 ( 46 moms have responded )

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My almost 19 year old, college freshman, still living @ home son has 4 best friends. All are guys. 2 have had steady girlfriends for a while. My son has been dating the same girl for about 1 month now. When they all started college in August, one of the long-time girlfriends has asked my son for, in my opinion, inappropriate favors since her boyfriend is my sons best friend; to spend the night @ her apartment for 2 nights when her roomate was out of town & to pick her up from a doctors appointment and bring her home. One reason for my concern is that her father gave her no alternative but to move out on her own once she started college. To be blunt, he kicked her out! My son has only said that they did not get along. As far as I know, she has not asked for
money (we are keeping a close eye on this). Another reason is that she is failing all but 1 class this semester - not a good influence! Am I over reacting?

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Chet - posted on 10/27/2014

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Speaking as someone who has worked with 18 to 20 year olds, a lot of parents fail to realise that they are stunting their children more than helping them when they are too involved or too concerned.

At some point on this thread somebody suggested that the teenage brain doesn't fully mature until the early or mid twenties... which is true. However, maturation is closely linked to experience.

Raye - posted on 10/27/2014

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Laura,
If your son is keeping his grades up and following the rules of your house, then you should let him make his own choices. If he just mentions something to you about these situations, I'm not sure you should butt in. Be glad he feels comfortable talking to you. Maybe you could ask him a question or two and say something like "how interesting" or "if you're sure about this, then okay". That might get him thinking about the situation without your direct input, or it may prompt him to ask you directly for your opinions.

If he asks your opinions, I would try to keep them neutral. Start with a positive and end with the concern... example: you're glad he is willing help someone in need, but you're concerned that his helping this girl may cause tension with your son's best friend, or your son's new girlfriend, or both. Express concern, but leave the decision making up to him. The less you interfere, the more apt he would be to listen to you if something serious was happening where you felt you absolutely had to step in.

Sarah - posted on 10/25/2014

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I can't agree with not giving unsolicited advice, if I think my kid of any age is making a huge mistake, I say so.

Nicole - posted on 10/25/2014

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I remember at 19 I did not really know my head from my butt although you are an "adult" at that age maturity level has not completely been reached. The areas of the brain that are involved in impulse control and reward continues to develop till age 25 actually making people in their late teens and early 20's more influenced by peer pressure than even young teens. So even scientifically speaking yes a 19 year old is still a kid and can benefit from the advice of an older wiser parent that loves them.

Sarah - posted on 10/25/2014

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Legally a 19 yo is an adult but the decision making and reasoning part of the brain is not fully developed until early to mid 20's. In my opinion, and I have a newly 18yo son, it is a time of transition.
Yes, I agree with Jodi that we need to raise our kids to be functional adults. My son makes decisions that I don't agree with but I also give advice, even unsolicited.
My son follows house rules; no sleep overs at our home or hers, no financial investments without discussing it with me, and he goes to church. The rest we play by ear because he has demonstrated the maturity to manage his life fairly well, does he mess up? Of course, that's what we are here for, to help him weather his mistakes and learn from them.
That said, in relationships, I keep my mouth shut. I don't care for all of his friends male and female.
So back to your original post, You can feel any way you want, those are your feelings and they aren't wrong, If your son asks for help or advice then give it to him. If he violates your family's ethics then say so. To say your are over reacting is very subjective, I guess it depends on how much you speak out and how much you keep to yourself.

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Dove - posted on 10/27/2014

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* Anytime I've ever been 'counseled' by an adult when I didn't specifically ask for their input... I haven't wanted to listen to them..

Yeah... because not wanting to listen to someone giving unsolicited advice and doing the opposite of said advice are the same things.... @@ lol

Sarah - posted on 10/27/2014

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If I stood by and watch my 18 yo son make a life-ending error, I would never forgive myself for not at least giving him my opinion. If you all can live with that, fine.
That is all I ever said, that when it comes to life changing or life-ending gambles, I will speak up. I have 26 years experience to share with him.
To say that simply giving my opinion to my son will basically guarantee he does the opposite is absurd. He has heard me say things, and chosen to do what he wants anyway. A good example is; This summer he was completing his Eagle Scout project and chose to go to the work-site and do some pre-cutting of the building materials. I told him it was not a good idea to use power tools, alone, at night, in a relatively isolated area. I felt is was a risky move, he went anyway. I do not dictate anything except our house rules. Which, at 18 and in high school I expect him to follow, and have yet to have any issues.
Mothers have gone on and on about how they've instilled proper life skills so therefore kids are full functional adults. Part of being an adult is listening to someone and respecting that they have your best interest at heart. As well as being able to weigh the risks and benefits of potential decisions. To simply choose to do the opposite of what someone recommends, because you just didn't want to hear it is immature.

Dove - posted on 10/27/2014

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I've been making all of my own decisions in my life since I was 16... lol Not always GOOD decisions, but not too horrid of ones either. Anytime I've ever been 'counseled' by an adult when I didn't specifically ask for their input... I haven't wanted to listen to them... even now and I'm almost 40. lol

I must've done something right w/ my life though as I'm raising healthy, happy, and thriving kids on my own. ;)

♫ Shawnn ♪♫♫ - posted on 10/27/2014

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Sarah, just so long as you understand that your kid may NOT appreciate you giving them that unsolicited advice, and they may let you know about it in very unfavorable terms...go for it!

I believe that is all that the others were trying to say...at the point where they've turned 18 and are an 'adult' in the legal sense of the word, they may not appreciate that you want to chime in on their life decisions.

Personally, I feel that I've given mine all the tools he needs, including past examples of what I'd have done differently (or what his dad would have done differently). He comes to me if he NEEDS input. I don't offer it otherwise, because it offends him. He's quick to catch his potential mistakes on his own. Teaching critical thinking from basically day 1 of his life is what got him to that point.

I'm not saying that you're approaching it incorrectly, just that you need to be aware that unsolicited advice from a parent to a teen is one thing...from a parent to an adult child, it crosses boundaries.

Sarah - posted on 10/27/2014

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There is experience and then there is flat out biology. The pre-frontal cortex, the part of the brain most crucial to appropriate decision making and judgement is not fully formed until the mid twenties. Does that mean older teens and younger twenties cannot manage independent of their parents? Of course not.
I can teach my children to cook, drive, do laundry, mange their finances, have safe sex, clean, practice good hygiene, dress appropriately to the situation, be polite etc.
I can teach, teach, teach, just like my mother taught me. At 22 I had my BSN/MSN degree, on my own dime as well, married and financially independent.
Yet I still welcomed my mother and father's advice, heeded it and made my own decisions. Were there lapses in judgement, you bet. I loaned my car to a girl when I was 21, "believing" she had a legit license....guess whose insurance went up 150% that year and spent countless hours in litigation? I made an error in judgement, if I had asked my parents they probably would have told to look at her license before handing her the keys. The argument will be made that I learned my lesson exactly how I was supposed too, by failing. However, I lost out on buying a house and getting a promotion BECAUSE of that error in judgement.
If, my child is going to make that type of error, damn sure I will speak up. I was lucky no one was killed in that accident!
Like I said....If my child is making a decision that has life-altering or life-ending consequences, I am going to say so.

Beth - posted on 10/27/2014

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At 19 I still appreciated my parents' counsel but I needed to feel like I asked for it. I'd just try to spend time with your son and hope that he brings the situation up. People (and not just teens) are generally not receptive to others' advice unless they ask for it.

Sarah - posted on 10/27/2014

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There is a vast difference between dictating your adult child's life and remaining involved in said kid's life.
My 18 yo is very competent, yet he is still a high school senior and has learning and transitioning to do before he is 100% independent.
Somehow this forum has gotten very focused on numbers, at 18 I did this and at 19 I did this...so at 18 my kids were this...
There is still brain development to be done between 18 and 25. Do I think I will need to parent at 20, 22 or 25 the way I do now? Absolutely not. Do I parent my 18 yo like I did when he was 15, 16 or 17? No, I have adapting my parenting as he has matured. Do I think he could move out tomorrow and everything would be terrific? No, but that doesn't mean I am not preparing him to be a fully independent adult, I just didn't mark an X on the calendar for the big day.
I don't think looking at the next year or two as a time of transition, is over-parenting or being a dictator in his life.

♫ Shawnn ♪♫♫ - posted on 10/27/2014

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I have got to laugh, I mean, REALLY LAUGH at these parents who think their 19 & 20 year olds are still kids incapable of making their own life choices and doing a good job...

Your adult children will be as competent as you've raised them to be. For myself, that meant that my 18 YO was MORE than ready to handle his own life, decisions (both financially and otherwise), and do so successfully. This happened because I, as his mother, gave him those tools he needed to succeed.

I helped him be self sufficient and make appropriate decisions from day 1. I didn't hand him everything that he wanted and baby him until he turned 18 and then expected him to turn to me for everything...

At 18, your kid should be able to make his own life decisions. Yes, advice is one thing, but dictating your adult children's lives is entirely another. I'm with Jodi & Michelle. You aren't doing anyone any favours by continuing to dictate your adult children's lives.

Laura - posted on 10/27/2014

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Thanks for your response & I agree - somewhat. Fortunately, my children do have a choice on whether they leave home before finishing college or stay. Seems like children/young adults have more of a choice than some of us did. I think that's a good thing. I think most parents live by the old saying, "I want my children to have it better than I did!" But then again, their are some that do not.

Laura - posted on 10/26/2014

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Thank you so much!!! I'm so sorry that happened to you but I'm happy that your able to tell about it.

Dove - posted on 10/26/2014

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OP is original post or original poster. In this case... you. :)

Michelle - posted on 10/26/2014

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My ex husband was (actually still is) an alcoholic. My parents tried to prevent me from marrying him and I was 23 but I thought I was in love. We lasted 7 years until I finally left but there was no way I was going to listen to my family saying I shouldn't be with him.
That's what I was saying, a person probably won't listen if you are telling not to see someone. If you think someone is a bad influence a lot of children will keep seeing that person just because you have told them not to. That's what kids do.

Jodi - posted on 10/25/2014

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Well, abuse is different. I agree with saying something if you know there is abuse and someone's wellbeing is at risk. But there is a way to say it that doesn't seem like you are overstepping your boundaries and trying to tell them what to do. However it is still ultimately your child's choice. You can't tell them what to do there either, you can only let them know that you are there to support them whichever choice they make.

But this situation we are talking about here is not abuse, I think we are allowing ourselves to get sidetracked.

Nicole - posted on 10/25/2014

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At 19 I was in a very abusive relationship to the point I am lucky to be alive. In all other respects I was responsible, honors classes through high school, began working at 15 bought my own brand new car at 18. I really wish my parents would have stepped in and intervened. Now that I am older and a mother myself I can't imagine sitting quietly by if I suspected my daughter was in such a situation. I must agree parenting plays a huge role in the decisions that teens and young adults but even great parenting doesn't always prevent such situations. My husband is a police officer and he has said he sees domestic violence touch people from all walks of life. I understand not nagging your child about their relationship if it is a trivial matter or a personality difference but if there is something that is detrimental to their well being something should be said.

Jodi - posted on 10/25/2014

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But let's be honest, people have been making adult choices at these ages forever. All of a sudden they aren't capable in this generation? When I was young EVERYONE was leaving home at 18 where I lived because they didn't have a great deal of choice, and most of them got by just fine. It was a very common thing to do then.

In fact, if you look at the official statistics here in Australia, the average age for adult children to move out of home is 19-20. They are adults, not children.

As I said, I think there are way too many people overprotecting and underestimating their adult children's capabilities to make good choices.

Jodi - posted on 10/25/2014

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Not at the age of 19, no, not unless he actually asked for advice or input. His relationships are his business.

Nicole - posted on 10/25/2014

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Jodi, I think most mothers know the maturity level of their child, I am glad to hear that your prefontal cortex was so well developed at 19 but that does not mean that every 19 year old is near as worldly as you were. If he is talking to her about the situation she has every right to respond with her opinion on the matter. I am just curious are there any instances where you would make your thoughts known to your child if they were in a relationship that you disagreed with?

Jodi - posted on 10/25/2014

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My apologies, I didn't go back and read your other posts with your most recent. I just did then. It appears I missed the whole relationship comment :)

But the point of the OP is about unsolicited advice about the influence of this girl on her son. So I guess in your third post that's what I thought you were talking about.

Sarah - posted on 10/25/2014

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Are you reading what I am saying?
In my second to most recent post:
That said, in relationships, I keep my mouth shut. I don't care for all of his friends male and female.
In my most recent:
if I think my kid of any age is making a huge mistake, I say so.

I was clear that in relationships, I keep my mouth shut....
In other matters...
Oh say, bailing someone out of jail, dropping out of college, quitting their job, any decision that at 18 could be life-altering, or worse life-ending? I put my two cents in.....

Michelle - posted on 10/25/2014

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Sarah, you can say that you think they are making a mistake but the chances of them listening are very small. Most people (yes even adults) will do the opposite if someone tries to tell them what to do. The best thing is to let your child know your thoughts but not push the issue.
Ultimately, it's their life and they can live it the way they want.

Jodi - posted on 10/25/2014

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Sarah, you go ahead and give your unsolicited advice. They are your kids, and obviously you are welcome to parent them however you deem fit. I wish you luck with that when one of your children has a boyfriend or girlfriend you don't approve of. I've seen that one go down like a ton of bricks on several occasions, and frequently ends up with the mother being on the outer, and in some cases, the mother being totally cut out of grandchildrens lives. That's why I'm saying that sometimes you are best to keep unsolicited advice to yourself and take a step back.

But we can agree to disagree on that point. Ultimately, the OP will take all the advice on board and make her own choice and she will have to live with the outcomes.

Michelle - posted on 10/25/2014

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I'm with Jodi. At 19 I had been living out of home for a year, had been working full time for 3 years and was supporting myself in every way. I was always a very independent child though, even at 3 I would insist on making my own breakfast!
That being said, it's also the way you raise your children. By the time they are 19 you have hopefully done your job well and they can make the right decisions. I know that they will make mistakes but it's how they deal with and learn from those mistakes that shows how well you raised them.
Yes you can let him know how it looks from the outside but you can't tell him what to do anymore. If you want to keep the communication open it's best that you are there for him to confide in without judgement. Give him advice if he asks for it but don't tell him what he should be doing.

Jodi - posted on 10/25/2014

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And I remember at 19 I was a fully capable adult with a full time job, an apartment and a boyfriend, buying my own car and living in a large city 2 hours away from my parents or any other family.

We also have a 22 year old who has been living out of home for 2 years and is perfectly capable of choosing her own friends without us telling her that they are a bad influence on her. I wouldn't even presume to give my 17 year old son who lives at home unsolicited advice about his friendships - his friends are his choice. I just have total faith that I raised him to know right from wrong. Yes, sometimes he makes a poor choice, but he learns from it. If you don't give your children the ability to MAKE the decisions (and, yes, the mistakes), then you are actually taking away their opportunities to learn from them. And let's face it, the decisions in this OP are hardly ones that a 19 year old is incapable of making himself, and if mistakes are made, they are hardly life threatening.

One sure way to alienate your child is to start butting in on their friendships and who you think is appropriate and who isn't. Next step from that is becoming the interfering mother-in-law who warned her son before he got married that she wasn't right for him and then wonders why the daughter-in-law wants nothing to do with you.

Obviously I think the OP is overreacting AND overstepping her boundaries with her adult child. And this is advice from a mother who HAS an adult child and another not far off, and advice from someone who teaches adolescents. And from someone with a psychology degree, so I know what the studies say about young brains ;)

Jodi - posted on 10/25/2014

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Why are people assuming a 19 year old is still just a kid and can't make appropriate adult decisions? Do you truly underestimate your children that much? Do you truly think you haven't raised them with enough sense to make their own decisions without it all becoming your business?

Nicole - posted on 10/25/2014

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If he confided in you about this I would say it is okay to put your two cents in about the situation without "telling" him what to do. If this is his best friends girlfriend I think my focus would be on reminding him not to ruin his relationship with his best friend. I know many have the perspective that he is 19 and its none of your business however a 19 year old really is still a kid and will not always make the best decisions so as a parent I think it is important to be able to advise them but not be pushy and hopefully they will make good choices.

Jodi - posted on 10/25/2014

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Your son confiding in you or talking to you doesn't make it your business. You asked the question about whether this girl was a good influence over your son. Now, if your son were 5 or 6, I'd suggest stopping the play dates. However, your son is 19. Who has influence over him is no longer YOUR responsibility. He has to now make his own mistakes and learn from them.

"Almost all 18 - 40 year old males are driven by testosterone"

So are you suggesting that all 18-40 year old males can't make appropriate judgements of their own and need their mothers to do it for them? That's rather underestimating your son's ability to function as a productive adult in society.

Sarah - posted on 10/25/2014

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I agree that this is your son's business but while my adult children live in my home they are expected to abide by the house rules. So to some extent is is your business.

Chet - posted on 10/25/2014

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Confiding in you doesn't necessarily make it your business or your problem. To some extent, you can be a sounding board, a sympathetic shoulder, or a fresh set of eyes on a problem, but ultimately, this is your son's situation to deal with. In general, I'd say it's best for you to just listen if your son wants to talk, but resist the urge to try and solve this.

It's fair for you to ask him if he has considered particular aspects of the situation, but it's not reasonable for you to judge or to flat out tell him what he should do. Especially when the only perspective you have is second hand information that is coming primarily from only one person. Not to mention, as his mother, it's very easy for you to focus in on protecting your son when he doesn't necessarily need protecting.

Your son is 19. He needs to navigate his own social life and learn from his experiences (and his mistakes).

Laura - posted on 10/25/2014

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Thanks for your well deserved question! I certainly understand why it was asked.

Anytime my19 year old son confides in me, whatever "it" is becomes my business even if it is only as an advisor or confidant. Almost all 18 - 40 year old males are driven by testosterone (which is normal) & can't always see the negative response that may result from their actions. Therefore, it is my responsibility, as his parent, to help him figure out what is appropriate behavior when it comes to desperate females and/or males.
On the same note, it is none of my business who he chooses to be his friends but, if he is headed down a wrong path I will point it out to him.

Thanks again!

Sarah - posted on 10/24/2014

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This is why the lessons we teach our kids when they are young are critical. Hopefully your son knows better than to "loan" money to this girl. Or worse, allow her to use his credit card for personal use and potentially ruin his credit.
Sounds like this girl needs a friend. What is the harm in your son being that friend? If he is having a physical relationship with her, that's between him, her and her boyfriend.

Laura - posted on 10/24/2014

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Thanks Dove. Just recently, the boyfriend's parents have starting paying the girl's cell phone bill - because they know that she has no family support & they have always allowed their son to use their credit card to pay for their outings. Two weeks ago, they learned that the girl has been spending money/using her own credit card very frivelously; this has really upset them. This is none of my business but it does concern me for my own son.

Dove - posted on 10/24/2014

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As long as he's following the rules you have for him to live in your house... it's his life. Sure you can offer him advice, but I see nothing wrong w/ him being supportive to this girl. Doesn't really sound like her own boyfriend is doing that much for her.

Laura - posted on 10/24/2014

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Sarah, thanks for your reply & I agree but, the question I ask my son is, "Why is she asking you for these favors & not the boyfriend/son's best friend? Response: on the night of the "sleep over" boyfriend's parents did not approve & regarding the doctor's appointment, the boyfriend told her "No, you can go to the student health center or, you have a car - drive yourself. So, one friend dropped her off @ the doctor's office & my son picked her up.

Laura - posted on 10/24/2014

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Thanks for your response. What would the best position be to make an assessment?

Laura - posted on 10/24/2014

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Sarah, thanks for your reply & I agree but, the question I ask my son is, "Why is she asking you for these favors & not the boyfriend/son's best friend? Response: on the night of the "sleep over" boyfriend's parents did not approve & regarding the doctor's appointment, the boyfriend told her "No, you can go to the student health center or, you have a car - drive yourself. So, one friend dropped her off @ the doctor's office & my son picked her up.

Chet - posted on 10/24/2014

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I agree with Sarah. This is your son's business. I'd leave it alone.

It's very unlikely that he's told you everything. You're probably not in the best position to make any kind of assessment anyway.

Even if he is making mistakes, that's part of growing up. You make mistakes and learn from them.

And as for bad influences, the world is full of bad influences. Ideally, you raise kids with the capacity to resist temptations and bad influences. You raise kids to be a positive influence on the people who are struggling. You raise kids who can recognize when they've suffered from a bad influence and work to fix the situation when things go a little astray.

Sarah - posted on 10/24/2014

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I think at 19, this is between your son and his buddies. As long as your son is meeting your expectations while he lives at home, what he does privately is his business.

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