Teasing daughter is rude
Dear Amy: My husband and I have a bright, social and engaging 5- year- old daughter. Our problem has to do with how some family members and close friends interact with her.
Examples include people visiting our home and telling her that they are going to take her baby brother home with them, which resulted in my daughter screaming in protest while the other person had a hearty laugh.
Then there was the time an adult relative came to her birthday party and repeatedly said, “It’s my party and I’m going to cut the cake!” while my daughter progressively got more confused and agitated. This went on until she was in tears and the adult started laughing.
We have tried to steer the conversation elsewhere, but we want to get the message across politely, but clearly, that we do not appreciate people agitating our child.
What can we do to send the message politely that we would like our child to be treated with respect and not teased for fun?
Dear Agitated: Some adults are able to engage children appropriately by “kidding.” Five- year- olds usually catch on pretty quickly when an adult says, “Hey, wait a minute — that’s MY birthday cake!” if the adult telegraphs that this is a kidding game. The adult conveys this with a smile and body language that signals to the child his intentions.
Teasing a child until she is obviously distressed is just bullying. Laughing at a child you have made cry is disgusting.
I’m not sure why you are so worried about being polite. While this is happening, you should place your hand on your child’s arm and say, “Uncle Buck is teasing you, honey.” If you don’t catch it in time, after you comfort your child you should ask the adult, “Please don’t tease her. You are the only person who enjoys it.”
Dear Amy: One of my oldest and closest friends lost her husband a year ago to an aggressive cancer. Throughout his illness I reached out to her. I offered to give her breaks from caregiving so that she could get out of the house. I also offered to run errands, or just talk.
Increasingly I felt pushed away — she criticized things I said or how I said them, said some other hurtful things, took offense at things I did but never responded to apologies, declined invitations and never suggested alternatives — to the point where I think she doesn’t want my friendship anymore.
I wonder if I did something to hurt her that I don’t even know about. My husband tells me she is dealing with her own issues and this mess wasn’t my doing.
How can I salvage a dear friendship, or should I accept that it is over?
Sad and Bewildered
Dear Sad: People respond along a wide spectrum to illness, death and grief. Your friend has been through the most extreme stress you can possibly imagine. Your generous offers might have seemed intrusive ( or useless) to her. Your repeated efforts to apologize and restart your friendship might seem impossible to someone whose life has fallen apart and who might be ( understandably) depressed.
I suggest you give her a little more space. Don’t crowd her. Don’t give up on her. Act like your old self without expecting her to respond like her old self.