[This letter has been edited and condensed.]
I'm a mother of a 3-year-old boy, and he is an only child. My friend always makes a scene every time my son makes a little mistake. In the beginning, it was OK with me that she disciplined my boy. Lately it's getting too much for me, like when my boy [is playing with a toy that] makes a noise while we are watching TV... or pressing my boy to say he's sorry when he pushed his playmate. I believe my boy would do that on his own but instead.... my friend reacted immediately and made a scene, which my son is not used to, because what I do is tell him nicely not to push and to share toys. My son will easily melt down, and I know the character of my son more than she does; he responds better to me talking to him rather than confronting him. Do you think I was wrong with this? I feel like my friend is always threatening him, and I don't like to show that I don't like her way because I'm not sure, also, [about my way]. Thanks
From: Greta, Florida
It's so easy to be intimidated by friends who think they know best, especially if the person has a forceful personality. Isn't it funny that many of them aren't even parents?
Greta, no one knows your child as well as you do and, no, I don't think you are wrong to not like how your friend treats your son.
You need to tell her that you are troubled by the way she responds to your son. If this is a friendship you both value, the two of you will be able to work this out in a loving, respectful way. If she takes offense and gets huffy, you'll know the friendship needs to change or even end.
No matter how this particular friendship goes, keep in mind, though, that children are resilient, and they benefit from having relationships with adults other than parents, and with people who offer them diversity in terms of style and temperament. What all those relationships must share, though, is an ability to be supportive and nurturing of the child. If your friend can make some changes in how she responds to him, that'd be great! Read this for some strategies that might help you and your friend know how to respond, now that your son is in the preschool stage.
I would also urge you, Greta, to find a parent workshop in your community that will help you feel more confident as a mom. It sounds like you might be a single and/or young mom, and we all need all the support and help we can get.
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