How to Stand Up to a Bully's Mom
By Ellen Welty
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.