Approaching another parent about their child’s behavior is a lot harder than it used to be. When I was a kid, parents were less rude, combative and self-centered. People lived in tighter-knit communities in which the parents all knew each other and helped keep track of what each other’s kids were doing. If another parent called your parents and said that you had done something wrong, you would be punished without question.
Nowadays, it’s much more difficult to bring up another parent’s child without World War III erupting. Many parents aren’t raising their kids anymore, so when they hear that their child is doing something wrong, they register it as, “I’m a bad parent” and become defensive.
Here are three tips to make talking with another parent about their child’s behavior go more smoothly:
- Start by saying that you want to find out their child’s point of view. The best way to begin the conversation is to focus on why their kid has a problem with yours. That way, you’re not attacking their child, but rather trying to understand them. The child’s mother or father will (likely) be more curious and interested than defensive.
- When their child gives their point of view, be respectful. Don’t fight it or call them a liar. Just say, “OK, that’s very helpful.”
- Emphasize how things can be fixed, not who caused it. Oftentimes, parents get way too caught up in who started what. It doesn’t matter. Kids do and say dumb stuff all the time. They also can be very mean and irrational. What you should really care about is how you can fix it so that neither child is obsessing over the conflict anymore. If both parents can work together to help call a truce, then both kids will be better off.
Unfortunately, sometimes you’re simply going to run into parents who will attack you and your child no matter how much you apologize. They are just mean or psycho, and you now understand why their child is such a pain in the butt. If that’s the case, you are not going to make any headway. Politely end the conversation, and tell your kid to avoid their child. If there is any further contact at school, talk to a teacher or principal. If there is physical contact, call the police.