Hus­band’s brag­ging makes wife cringe

The Buffalo News - - LIFE COLLUMNS -

Dear Car­olyn: Two years ago, we were in­vited to skip our son “Johnny” ahead from first grade to sec­ond mid-year. My hus­band was a bit in­suf­fer­able about it, brag­ging to a num­ber of our friends about how well Johnny was do­ing aca­dem­i­cally. This re­ally bugged me at first but I ul­ti­mately de­cided I couldn’t con­trol an­other adult’s mouth and stopped wor­ry­ing about it – though I tried to lessen the dam­age by telling our friends about some of the tougher parts of skip­ping a kid ahead.

Two years later, it’s clear that Johnny was so­cially un­ready to skip grades; he also has a late birth­day and so was al­most two years younger than most of his class­mates. In the fall, he’ll be start­ing third grade for the sec­ond time.

My hus­band is, un­sur­pris­ingly, mum about this when we talk to our friends about how school is go­ing.

Any sug­ges­tions about how I can head off some­thing like this next time – i.e., not let­ting my hus­band’s braggy ten­den­cies set us up for fail­ure? –CameBack­toBiteUs You use this ex­pe­ri­ence to spell it out for him, pri­vately, after a fresh brag at­tempt. “When you talk about how well X is go­ing, I cringe. The grade-skip­ping hum­bled me, and rightly so – good for­tunes can turn pretty quickly.”

But, se­ri­ously? If he didn’t learn this ex­act les­son him­self, then I’m not sure he’s ma­ture enough to em­brace the spelled-out ver­sion, ei­ther.

As­sum­ing it’s a trait he’s not poised to out­grow, you have your own role here: as a per­son who con­verses with­out brag­ging. When you “talk to our friends about how school is go­ing,” for ex­am­ple, you be the agent of re­al­ity. “Turns out skip­ping a grade wasn’t the right call for Johnny – he was way be­hind ev­ery­one so­cially. He’s back with his age group this fall.”

That’s not fix­ing your hus­band’s ten­den­cies, or head­ing them off, or in any way parachut­ing into his con­ver­sa­tional ter­ri­tory.

It’s just be­ing hon­est and well-ad­justed in your own right, and, as a con­ve­nient byprod­uct, set­ting the record straight.

Dear Car­olyn:

I have a friend whose daugh­ter is strug­gling with de­pres­sion and has been hos­pi­tal­ized twice in as many months.

Can you sug­gest any book or other re­source for him as the par­ent, for how he can help his daugh­ter and han­dle this? – Friend

The Na­tional Al­liance on Men­tal Ill­ness – NAMI – has ex­cel­lent sup­port groups and can rec­om­mend other re­sources. Fam­ily to Fam­ily is the one my read­ers say has been most help­ful to them, though it is not spe­cific to de­pres­sion or ado­les­cence.

Your friend can call NAMI’s Helpline to dis­cuss that op­tion and oth­ers: 800-950-6264.

If your friend’s daugh­ter has sui­ci­dal thoughts, then that’s a sit­u­a­tion for im­me­di­ate help. The Na­tional Sui­cide Pre­ven­tion Life­line is 1-800273-TALK (8255).

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