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Annie's Mailbox

Daughter is bullied. What can a parent do?

August 24, 2011

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Q. My daughter “Tess’’ is a junior in high school in a small rural community. About six months ago, one friend became angry with her for some reason and managed to get the rest of their group to ostracize her. It breaks my heart that Tess no longer has friends. She sits home night after night. It also makes me angry that one girl can have so much control over other people. This is just like bullying. And those who allow this to happen are just as guilty as she is. Shame on them.

As a parent, I want to jump in and let them know how hurtful they are being to my daughter, but I realize it will only make things worse. What can I do?

HURTING FOR MY DAUGHTER

A. This is not “just like’’ bullying. It is absolutely bullying. Some of these things resolve themselves over time, although six months is a long wait. Did Tess do something for which an apology would help? Could Tess meet with the ringleader privately and come to an understanding?

If no reconciliation is possible, please encourage Tess to find new friends both in and out of school - perhaps at church or through sports groups. She also can check kidshealth.org to find better ways to cope. She should not be moping around at home. And if these “mean girls’’ are verbally or physically nasty to Tess, you should report it to the principal and make sure they are held accountable for their behavior.

Q. I have a circle of friends I’ve known since high school. One of them, “Aiden,’’ has the foulest mouth imaginable. Back then, we all thought it was hysterical that someone could fit in six or more f-bombs per sentence. We used to imitate him, and he thought we were impressed by this ability.

We are all adults now with children, but his potty mouth continues. Aiden thinks nothing of swearing continuously in front of his own children and anyone else’s. Worse, he dominates every conversation and speaks louder than anyone else.

Could this be an obsessive-compulsive disorder?

HEARD ENOUGH

A. It’s more likely an ingrained bad habit that Aiden hasn’t had the energy or desire to fix. You should tell Aiden that his language has become unbearable and he needs to work on it. If you still want to stay in touch, you can see him less often and without your children.

Q. Here’s my story about the effectiveness of counseling. When my girls were young, my husband wore cowboy boots. Every night when he came home, he would yell, “Pull my boots!’’ It was quite an ordeal to get them off, so when the girls heard him coming, they would make a hasty retreat to their rooms and I was the one who got stuck.

It was a real bone of contention, and I didn’t know how to handle it, so I went for counseling. The counselor had me try behavior modification - when I had pulled off his boots a certain number of times, he was supposed to do something nice for me. Yeah, right.

One day, I walked by a store that sold Western gear and found a boot puller. I had never heard of it before. I bought it, and the problem was solved. The girls are long gone, and my husband has passed away, but the boot puller is still on the floor by the door.

RAPID CITY, S.D.

E-mail your questions to anniesmailbox@comcast.net, or write to: Annie’s Mailbox, c/o Creators Syndicate, 5777 West Century Blvd., Suite 700, Los Angeles, CA 90045.