WWYD – friend’s child

(From the mailbag)

Dear Mama H,

I have a friend with a son the same age as mine. We live close to each other and at first I thought it would be great for the 2 boys to become friends.

However, I don’t like the way my friend speaks to her son (she seems to shout at him a lot, and can be quite aggressive) and her son also behaves the same way, he plays a bit too rough, shouts a lot and is very pushy. My son complained to me about this and so now they don’t play together any more

Just now another friend with a son the same age also mentioned how she doesn’t want her son playing with this friend’s son, for the same reasons (she didn’t say who it was, but I knew who she meant).

I feel really bad for my friend and worried a bit for her child. My friend does not have an easy time of things, but she definitely means well and tries hard to be a good parent. I don’t think I’m close enough to her to tell her all this, and even if I do, how would she change her son’s behavior so quickly, if at all?

WWYD? Would you say anything, and if so what?


So, readers, what would you advise this mother to do?

7 responses to “WWYD – friend’s child

  1. lady lock and load

    I guess what I would do is first spend time with this woman, call her up to say hi and shmooze, go out for coffee, invite her over for a shabbos afternoon visit or a meal. You have to show her that you really care about her and her family, get to know her. Then she might bring up the fact that her son has no friends and then ask her why do you think that is, and gently get to the fact that her son’s behavior repells kids. but all this has to be done with lots of love. good luck!

  2. In addition to L3’s approach, Mommy should help yingele understand that there are diverse personalities out there and provide him with the tools needed to deal with it. It is impossible to walk away from every situation that is deemed uncomfortable and possessing the right social skills will give yingele a leg up.

    • I would not ask of yingele to play with a child he does not want, especially if it is due to brutality…

      However, I agree on the other parts involving inviting her, etc…

  3. L3’s approach is excellent; I can’t think of a better one.

    But first and foremost, look after your own children’s welfare. Having dealt with some crazy parents, over the years – and having dealt with them in denial of the notion that other parents could be crazy – I have been quick to give benefit of the doubt and slow to recognize crazy. (Crazy like the very nice woman with lovely children who offered to take my daughter to the piercing salon at the mall on her 13th birthday and forge my name on the consent slip.) My point in mentioning this is that you say “she definitely means well and tries hard to be a good parent,” but follow that with, “I don’t think I’m close enough to her to tell her all this, and even if I do, how would she change her son’s behavior so quickly, if at all?” Are you close enough to be sure of her intentions – or are you assuming that, because you can’t bear to think poorly of someone you’d like to call a “friend”?

    You and your son are not therapists, and this may go too deep for you to change. It’s good of you to try, if you’re willing – and I hope she listens and tries, too, for her own and her son’s sake.

  4. My question would be how to change the mother’s behavior so quickly. Children mimic what they see and if the mother is able to change her parenting skills (or lack thereof) then the child has a better chance. If there a father in the home? R there other children? I like the idea of spending time with the woman and child and when the woman or child yells, etc. softly bring up the subject of how one gets more with honey than vinegar… or whatever it says. Or ask her: do you see how (son) plays, yells, bullies the other kids. I know my own son does not this behavior because he has mentioned it to me.

  5. Speaking to her (which involves, one way or another criticising her) will not help much, according to my experience.

    Helping her (with practical work), taking off some of her workload might help, on the long run.

    Showing her (without showing her that you are showing her) might help (but takes some time also).

    Perhaps ask her about “problems with her son”, just listen to her, without offering advise or “I know better than you”.

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