Frenemies and Feuds: Should Parents Get Involved?
What should a parent do about "mean" girls and boys or, as is more often the case, a classmate or other social acquaintance who might be nice to most kids, but not to one of their children? In the time I describe as "BK" (Before Kids) I had pretty strong opinions about this and believed a parent should never step in unless their child is undergoing severe bullying (whether it is physical or emotional). Now that I am a mom, though, my feelings about this are a little more clouded. I find this situation particularly hard to wrap my head around, I think, because one of my daughters has health issues that make her act a little less than "normal" at times. Not surprisingly, kids start to pick up on this more as they get older and some kids, more than others, are put off by her behavioral differences. While I am somewhat sympathetic to that response, I am not as sympathetic to the lobbying that sometimes accompanies those negative feelings, i.e., when the classmate or friend who has decided she or he does not like my child tries to turn other kids against her too. I find myself wanting to talk to the other child in that situation, explain to her that my daughter has disabilities and sometimes can't help the way she acts. I would like to tell that child that when she shuts my daughter out of social situations, my daughter is depressed for days. I would like to tell that child that what may seem like no big deal to her is, in fact, life-altering for my child. I'm afraid that doing so would make the situation worse instead of better. So I sit on my hands, zip my lip, fume in private, and do what I can to make sure my child is comforted and able to process what is happening. But is that actually the best response? Should I try to reach out to the other child or her family to explain the situation and ask for more understanding? What other options do I have? I don't know. If you have any suggestions or thoughts, though, I would love to hear them. Until next time, y'all have a good one!