Friday, June 22, 2018
Parenting & Relationships

Best to answer bragging parent with a good dose of humor

Adapted from a recent online discussion.

Best to answer bragging parent with a good dose of humor

Q: I have a friend whose one-upper tendencies have gotten UNBEARABLE since we both had children. Whenever a group of us are talking about our kids (mostly challenges we've had and solutions that have worked), this friend can only brag about how 3-year-old "Sophie" is so brilliant, so advanced, so unlike the other children at her preschool, always shocking her parents with her first- and second-grade skills.

Carolyn, I've met Sophie, and she is a cute and definitely sweet little girl, but average.

Maybe this is pure spite on my part, but I really feel like I'm going to burst if I don't put Sophie's mom in her place. Is there a better way to put an end to this? I know how hurt I would feel if someone insulted my children, but it seems wrong to let her live in obnoxious delusion, too.

Maryland

A: Poor Sophie.

Humor and hyperbole might be the only rational response: "Yes, well, Homer reproduced the Sistine Chapel ceiling in his playroom." Then give your friend a soft chuck in the shoulder and change the subject.

In other words, declaring Sophie average is the last thing you want to do, because, as you've almost come around to seeing, this has nothing to do with Sophie and everything to do with her mom's insecurities. So, the message you want to send is a playful, "There you go again but I love you anyway." Assuming it hasn't gotten to the point where you no longer do.

Exhausting to be the sibling everyone counts on to air their problems

Q: How do you convey to people that being their support line is taking a toll on you? I'm traditionally the more "mature" of my siblings, so my parents often come to me to discuss fights, health issues, etc. My girlfriend often leans on me about things, as do her friends. Even at work, I've had people tell me I'm the only one on my project they "can trust." It's flattering, but it's also exhausting! How do I tell people I need to be more selfish for my own sanity without sounding, well, selfish?

Everyone's Therapist

A: First, you stop calling it "selfish" to want more say in the use of your time. People who want your attention will call you that, but they'll be saying it just to get what they want and not because they're right.

Then, you step back on a case-by-case basis. When one of your parents calls to discuss a health issue, for example, you express sympathy, and then deflect further discussion — "I really don't know a whole lot about (ailment in question); your doctor's the one to ask." And when they respond with excuses for not asking said doctor, you're ready with, "Yeah, I hear you, I'm sorry." Then, "I'm sure you'll handle it the right way — how about those Caps?"

Adapt as needed to fights, career issues, etc.

The key is to think first about why you shouldn't be involved, and next about who should be. So, "I'm not a doctor/ask your doc," or, "I wasn't there/talk to the person who was," or, "I'm not comfortable talking about this without Colleague 2 here/Please talk to Colleague 2." It's actually a responsible way to advise people — and being flattered into it isn't — so use it guilt-free.

Comments

Tell Me About It: Dad despairs at state of gender relations

Q: Day after day, we have new news of a famous man who has done unspeakably stupid and offensive things to women ... for decades. Society is, somewhat belatedly, starting to take these accusations seriously.But change is needed at the opposite end of...
Published: 06/22/18

Tell Me About It: Future in-laws are insisting on an open bar

Q: My fiance and I are getting married in my family’s hometown and my parents are hosting (and paying for) the wedding. My family are minimal drinkers. My fiance’s large extended family is accustomed to weddings with full open bars.My parents’ initia...
Published: 06/21/18
Plan your weekend: St. Pete Pride, Hall and Oates, Pixies, Logic, comics Jay Pharoah and Bobby Bones

Plan your weekend: St. Pete Pride, Hall and Oates, Pixies, Logic, comics Jay Pharoah and Bobby Bones

Rainbow connection Pride weekend: One of the largest Pride celebration in the Southeast happens this weekend in St. Petersburg, bringing a rainbow of activities. Things set off on Friday with the free SP2 Concert at North Straub Park, hosted by Coc...
Published: 06/20/18
Updated: 06/21/18
Big concerts this weekend: Luke Bryan, Hall and Oates, Weezer, Logic and more

Big concerts this weekend: Luke Bryan, Hall and Oates, Weezer, Logic and more

HIS KIND OF NIGHT: Luke BryanIt’s been three long years since Tampa has seen the well-groomed hide of Luke Bryan, the Hollywoodiest hunk in Nashville. But he’s about to make up for lost time. On Saturday he’ll headline his biggest-ever show here, a b...
Published: 06/20/18
Top things to do this week: Go Skateboarding Day, Hollywood medium Tyler Henry

Top things to do this week: Go Skateboarding Day, Hollywood medium Tyler Henry

Tyler Henry: Hollywood MediumTyler Henry, the so-called Hollywood Medium who stars in an eponymous E! hit show, is coming to town with a live show called "Life Lessons I Have Learned From the Departed." The soft-spoken 22-year-old has done readings f...
Published: 06/20/18
5 things to do under $5: USF Summer Plant Festival, Bridal Show, free show by AnastasiaMax

5 things to do under $5: USF Summer Plant Festival, Bridal Show, free show by AnastasiaMax

1 Summer Plant Festival: If you think you can’t get anything to thrive in Florida’s brutal summers, check out the vendors with fruit trees and advice on how to grow them, along with hundreds of blooming butterfly plants, herbs and tropical and exotic...
Published: 06/20/18

Tell Me About It: Wife punished after being victimized

Q: At a work happy hour, a male co-worker groped me. He later "apologized" with the qualification that I had been sending him mixed signals.I’m married, he has met my husband, I’ve never led him on. And when it happened I was incredibly clear that it...
Published: 06/20/18
Your guide to St. Pete Pride: What's changed for 2018

Your guide to St. Pete Pride: What's changed for 2018

Pride weekend kicks off in St. Petersburg Friday with a free concert hosted by a RuPaul’s Drag Race star, a parade along the downtown waterfront on Saturday and an expanded expo of vendors and art on Sunday in the Grand Central District that ga...
Published: 06/19/18

Tell Me About It: Mom/daughter dynamic feels controlling

Q: I am afraid I may be a controlling mom of my young adult daughter, but we have a dynamic in which she seeks me out often, solicits my advice, and makes me too important in her life. I admit to offering that advice because it is hard for me to draw...
Published: 06/19/18

Tell Me About It: Regretting staying too long in bad romance

Q: I recently broke up with someone after two years. Even though there were things that bothered me while we were together, I would convince myself I was overreacting, he didn’t really mean it, etc.Now that it’s over, I feel like a fool for not havin...
Published: 06/18/18