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How to Stand Up to a Bully's Mom


WebMD Feature from "Redbook" Magazine

By Ellen Welty

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Her child is making yours miserable, and you want it to stop — now. Here, the smart way to get her to talk some sense into her kid.

You've got a great kid, but the bully who lives down the street doesn't agree. He's always picking on your child — shoving him, swiping his scooter, calling him a loser — even though your son has asked him to stop. You know you need to talk to this little stinker's mom, but you worry: What if you aren't able to speak coherently (you're that angry), or she's as unnervingly nasty as her kid? Here's how to make yourself heard.

Step 1: Don't judge her.

Maybe you have a pet theory as to how this woman has managed to raise that big bully of hers ("I bet she's one of those really irresponsible types, and lets him watch a ton of violent TV!"). Forget all that. "If you go into the conversation with a negative opinion of her — and the attitude that you're a better parent than she is — she'll smell it and won't want to help you," cautions Rosalind Wiseman, author of Queen Bee Moms & Kingpin Dads: Dealing with the Difficult Parents in Your Child's Life . The truth is, you don't know a thing about her parenting style or what kind of rapport you two will have, so make no assumptions.

Step 2: Propose a private conversation.

You want to minimize public embarrassment here. And it doesn't matter if you phone her or catch her when she's walking past your house. Just say, "Hi, I have something I want to talk to you about. Is this a good time?" If she says, "Sure," but you hear her kid bawling for her, ask to talk later, uninterrupted, for a brief period. Otherwise, you'll rush awkwardly through the talk and nothing will be resolved.

Step 3: Ask for her help.

Try, "I've got a problem that I hope you can help me with," says Wiseman; most people are inclined to feel cooperative when you take a we'reonthesameside approach. Consider adding, "I'm a little uncomfortable talking to you like this, but I feel it's important." No need to pretend you're cool as a cuke; you're human, and admitting you're anxious makes you easier to relate to.

Step 4: Give just the facts.

When you describe the situation, leave out words like "bullying" and "mean." This woman loves her child as much as you love yours, so judgmental language will antagonize her. Instead, just convey the basics, as in: "A month ago, Emma told me that Nicole banned her from the clubhouse the girls use, and started calling her 'stupid' and pushing her away. Emma asked Nicole to stop, but she hasn't. I know Emma may not have told me the whole story, but something's up."

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