Wednesday, January 17, 2018
Parenting & Relationships

Go ahead and call out kid who's behaving badly

When friend's daughter behaves badly, it's okay to call child out

Q: My best friend's daughter, 10, is a little (twit). She never smiles at you, and if she deigns to speak to you, it is a one-word answer spoken with hostility.

When I walk into my friend's house, her daughter looks me up and down and refuses to say hello. If she speaks, it is by whispering either to her mother or a friend, and I can tell she is talking about the people present.

But, of course my friend thinks the sun rises and sets by her daughter. She tries to be "mom of the year" and admits to feeling guilty about travel for her job and the fact that Dad is absent working six months out of the year. I don't want to ever be around this girl again, and I am going to have to refuse invitations to visit their home.

I broached the subject with a mutual friend. This lady let loose about how this girl bullies her own son. She is questioning whether to remain friends with the mom. Clearly there is a problem.

My friend would be devastated to learn we feel this way and are considering ending the friendship, yet she gets defensive and refuses to hear any criticism of her daughter.

Do I just forget the friendship, or is there a way to approach this with my friend and try to do some good?

Can't Stand Her Kid!

A: Apparently you've tried to approach this with your friend, and her defenses knocked you back.

And, you've reached the point where you'd consider ending the friendship over the daughter's rudeness.

Add it up: 1 + 1 = liberation. You have nothing to lose here and society much to gain — not by having a better-worded heart-to-heart with her mom, but by addressing the demon daughter herself, on the spot, with Poppins-like playful restraint: When she looks you up and down, "Does my outfit meet your approval?" When she whispers to her friend, "Ooh, a secret! Please do share — you wouldn't want to be ruuuude."

When she answers you with hostile monosyllables, "Hm. You appear to be old enough to speak in full sentences . . . maybe I should try again."

Let her mother hear this.

In other words, village up: It's the adults' job to teach snippy children the rules. Pull your societal weight. It's your friend's prerogative to abdicate that responsibility; however, it's also your prerogative to correct children who fail to respect an adult.

Look inward for insight into why you were 'friend dumped'

Q: I have just been "friend dumped." A very close friend of a few years stopped talking to me, and when I asked why, she ended the friendship with an Internet message. She claimed (in literally three sentences) it was because the friendship is unhealthy.

The friendship was unhealthy at times — I have jealousy and fifth-wheel issues — but it was because we lived together, and we don't anymore. I can't wrap my head around the idea that someone I trusted so much would do this to me so easily, without feeling bad or giving me even a paragraph of thought.

The worst part is, I will have to see this person regularly in school. I know I need to move on, but I am very deeply hurt. I did so much for her, and I was always there for her. How do I stop obsessing over this and feeling bad?

The Dropped Friend

A: I'm sorry. Getting dumped hurts, and getting dumped abruptly hurts even more.

Be careful, though — an abrupt end can also be distracting to the point where valuable information gets lost in the why-me haze.

Please turn your attention not to the how-could-someone-I-trusted-do-this-to-me-so-easily question, but instead to those "jealousy and fifth-wheel issues." What was your part in the undoing? Did your friend ask too much of you, or did you ask too much of (or do too much for) her? Was the silent-treatment breakup about her cowardice, or about your inability to hear bad news without melting down? Or were you smothering her and this was her way out? What clingy behaviors got you in trouble? What did being roommates have to do with it? What are the chances you'll repeat your mistakes with the next roommate/friend? If you were to trace your insecurities, where do you think you'll find the roots?

I know this veers toward victim-blaming. I also deplore silence as a means of ending relationships except when one party fears for his or her safety.

It's just that being wronged often provides — after time to grieve — useful information for preventing a next time. As a student, you have access to mental health resources that workforce-dwellers often don't. Make the call, try a session, take your fifth-wheel concerns for a spin. Grief always hurts less when it spurs something good — like figuring out healthier ways to be friends.


Tell Me About It: Mom needs reassurance of their gratitude

Mom needs reassurance of their gratitudeQ: Whenever my mother gives me or my family member a gift, she ends up asking about it several times afterward. Does not matter if it was $5 or expensive.We always thank her for gifts, and these comments feel l...
Published: 01/16/18

Tell Me About It: Sister-in-law’s gall is of epic proportions

Sister-in-law’s gall is of epic proportionsQ: I’m a two-time, currently-Stage IV breast cancer survivor. When I was told I needed a double mastectomy, I did the research and decided to "go flat."For dressy occasions, I wear prostheses, but they’re no...
Published: 01/16/18

Tell Me About It: Pregnancy makes move harder to bear

Pregnancy makes move harder to bearI’m 27 weeks pregnant and just moved to a new city for a great job, but I think I made a big mistake. I loved my old life and feel so homesick for it. But my husband and I bought a house, so moving is not a feasible...
Published: 01/15/18

Tell Me About It: Mom is floored by daughter’s pregnancy

Mom is floored by daughter’s pregnancyQ: I’m literally shaking as I type this. My 15-year-old daughter is pregnant. I can’t believe it. We had many good discussions about waiting until she was ready, using birth control when she was, but it all did n...
Published: 01/14/18

Tell Me About It: Social daughter pushes mom’s boundaries

Social daughter pushes mom’s boundariesQ: So I am an introvert, and it has taken me years to finally accept this and allow myself to be happy alone, rather than constantly trying to appease my extroverted family with attempts to socialize that ultima...
Published: 01/12/18
Top things to do in Tampa Bay for the week of Jan. 15-21

Top things to do in Tampa Bay for the week of Jan. 15-21

Martin Luther King Jr. Day: Celebrations happen all around Tampa Bay today, including the MLK Dream Big Parade in downtown St. Petersburg. It includes 110 units and bands, including Florida A&M and Tuskegee universities, and ends with a Family Fun Da...
Published: 01/11/18
Updated: 01/14/18
Here’s how to sing along to the entire Hamilton soundtrack at a Tampa library

Here’s how to sing along to the entire Hamilton soundtrack at a Tampa library

If you’re already singing along to the entire Hamilton soundtrack alone, why not meet like-minded folks and do it together?A Hamilton singalong goes down tonight at the Jimmie B. Keel Regional Library in Tampa. Fans will gather to sing the entire — y...
Published: 01/11/18
Updated: 01/12/18

Tell Me About It: Retiree searches for purpose and answers

Retiree searches for purpose and answersQ: I retired over a year ago from a fairly high-powered job that gave me worldwide recognition in my field. The decision to retire (in my mid-70s) was a very difficult one because I was not sure I could fill my...
Published: 01/11/18
Plan your weekend: MLK Day, Monster Jam, Sunshine Music Festival, comic Nikki Glaser, Christian artists at Winter Jam

Plan your weekend: MLK Day, Monster Jam, Sunshine Music Festival, comic Nikki Glaser, Christian artists at Winter Jam

  Holiday MLK Day: Before the parades on Monday in downtown St. Petersburg and Tampa’s Cuscaden Park, there will be a block party and battle of the bands on Sunday with the Florida A&M Rattlers, Tuskegee University’s Marching Crimso...
Published: 01/10/18
Updated: 01/12/18
Meet the monster trucks: Free truck displays around Tampa Bay

Meet the monster trucks: Free truck displays around Tampa Bay

Before Monster Jam invades Raymond James Stadium on Saturday, some of the show’s biggest stars will be on display across the Tampa Bay area. You can and take pictures with the 12-foot-tall, 10,000-pound monster trucks at the following free appearance...
Published: 01/10/18