DAME’s Friendkeeper runs inebriation interference and helps a woman deal with another mother’s bully of a son.
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A few years ago, a close friend went through a breakup that rendered her a bit … obsessed with her ex. She seemed to always know where he was, what he was doing, the professions of his girlfriends, and she even sent us a link to his wedding announcement when that happened. They didn’t even date that long and he was such a jerk to her, but I digress. Anyway, as this was happening, we noticed an increase in her drinking. As I mentioned, the breakup was a few years ago, but the drinking still continues. In the past year, she has asked me to meet her on two separate occasions at places of her choosing—places where I wasn’t really comfortable (one was a private club)—and she arrived so drunk that management asked me to remove her. I’ve talked with her about her behavior and warned her that I don’t want to play bouncer with her (plus it’s really boring to go out with someone so trashed). I’ve also let one of her close relatives know about her drinking but that was months ago and I don’t think anything has happened. In the meantime, she keeps inviting me and some other friends to her house for dinner, but I need a break—and some of them do, too. What do I say? The invitations are mounting!
This is an incredibly sad situation. She’s not well and she’s not recognizing it. However, you’ve spoken to her, you’ve alerted her family, you’ve done everything within reason and you can step away feeling good about that.
I think when the invitation comes, you just say “no.” And if she asks you why, tell her what your experience has been (she might not remember you telling her this already, because of the drinking). You can even hand her a piece of paper with the names of counselors or facilities and tell her you don’t wish to spend time with her until she’s in some kind of treatment. I’m always on the fence with being that direct, but if she has the sense to see what a dramatic serious gesture this is, it may knock her into doing something and you could be saving her life.
There’s a mom in my older child’s class who I adore, and her oldest son is a really sweet kid, but in the past two years I have had more than one parent come to me and say that her younger son is a bully. I’m not talking a 2-year-old stealing trucks in the sandbox. He’s a 9-year-old stealth bully, the kind who says mean things under his breath and cuts down everything about the kid’s life, for instance, “I don’t like your dad’s voice, it’s too high. Why does your dad have such a high voice?” I asked my daughter, who is around his age, and she confirmed his bully status with a roll of her eyes, as if it’s common knowledge at school. My feeling is that the kids will find a way to work it out, but this is the third separate story I’ve heard, so maybe the mom needs to know?
Ugh on the Playground
I was thinking that if this were my kid, I would definitely want to know. But if it were my kid, I would know. And I’m not sure how this mom does not know. I remember one time a mom told me that my daughter showed her daughter a video that scared her. I was going to talk to my kid about it, but then I watched the video and it wasn’t scary. It turned out the kid was just a big pussy! So you know…. (I’m joking of course, but it’s true.)
So what do you do? On the one hand, this is hearsay. You haven’t seen it happen, you’ve just heard about it, though a) three times and b) I trust your daughter. I think you feel like the mom needs to know and I applaud your bravery —because she’s not going to give you a big hug for telling her. Either she knows already or she will be defensive. So how do you say it so she can best hear you?
Let’s break this down. There are real solid reasons kids become bullies. Either they are bullied themselves, or they’ve seen their parent be a bully, or they feel ignored, or no one has put limits on them and they feel entitled, or … they are without empathy. That last one is serious. There could be a real diagnosable issue. In any event, you have to come at it out of concern for her (rotten) child. In all seriousness, this is not a healthy, happy little boy. And he needs help, which will ultimately benefit the kids around him. Good luck with it.
Got a platonic problem of your own that could use the Friendkeeper’s advice? Fire away: [email protected]. No situation is too uncomfortable or too small and all details are kept confidential.
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