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Health & Parenting

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How to Stand Up to a Bully's Mom

WebMD Feature from "Redbook" Magazine

By Ellen Welty

Redbook Magazine Logo

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.

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