Q: The 6-year-old daughter of my best friend is an only child and a spoiled brat. She yells at her parents when she doesn’t get her way, always wants to be first in everything and is very controlling with other children. For some strange reason my kids want to play with her. How can I recapture a friendship? Should I talk to my friend?
A: You should talk to your friend about her daughter if you no longer want her membership. You need to know that today’s moms don’t take criticism of their children with aplomb. Best friends are hard to find.
When our daughter Amy was in elementary school, she had a friend who was very uncomfortable with her parents. She mocked them, militantly challenged them and even called them “idiots” and, believe me, even worse. The parents did nothing but help the helpless. Willie and I noticed that Amy found it difficult to play with this child without “getting infected” by her bad behavior and not bringing them home with her.
We decided not to interfere in the relationship, feeling that Amy needed to learn to think for herself, and the sooner the better. We told her she could play with her friend whatever she wanted, but as soon as we saw how she mimicked a child’s disobedience and disrespect, we were going to send her to her room for the rest of the day and put her to bed right after dinner. It took only two or three such imprisonments before Amy could play with this brat without becoming her “double”.
As a rule, I advise parents not to interfere in the friendship of their children, unless this friendship poses a real and current danger (which does not apply to this relationship). By the way, your kids will probably always have friends you don’t particularly like. You need to get used to it, especially if the girlfriend belongs to the best.
Q: At least twice a week my son in second grade brings home a job he had to finish in class but didn’t do it because of spending. The teacher does not punish and will not punish for it. I believe we should punish him at home. Do you agree?
A: Yes, I agree. Obviously, the problem is not a lack of ability. Here you have the opportunity to “shut down” the problem, which over time will only get worse if it is not solved. Make it a rule that if he brings home unfinished work on one day of the school week, he will be limited to one day off – that is, he will be in the house without television, classes and visitors. If he brings unfinished work home two or more days a week, he will be restricted throughout the weekend. It should be an offer he can’t refuse (but since he’s a kid, he refuses it, at least until he makes sure you don’t intend to).
KRT MUG SLUGGED: ROSEMOND KRT PHOTO BY DON WILLIAMSAN / CHARLOTTE OBSERVER (March 22) John Rosmond writes for the Charlotte Observer. (mvw) 2005
Visit the family psychologist John Rosmond’s website at www.johnrosemond.com; readers can send him an email at [email protected]; due to the volume of mail not every question will be answered.