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Carolyn Hax: Take on friend’s snippy 10-year-old

Hi, Carolyn: My best friend’s daughter, 10, is a little (twit). She never smiles at you, and if she deigns to speak to you, it is a one-word answer spoken with hostility. When I walk into my friend’s house, her daughter looks me up and down and refuses to say hello. If she speaks, it is by whispering either to her mother or a friend, and I can tell she is talking about the people present.

But, of course my friend thinks the sun rises and sets by her daughter. She tries to be “mom of the year” and admits to feeling guilty about travel for her job and the fact that Dad is absent working six months out of the year. I don’t want to ever be around this girl again, and I am going to have to refuse invitations to visit their home.

I broached the subject with a mutual friend. This lady let loose about how this girl bullies her own son. She is questioning whether to remain friends with the mom. Clearly there is a problem.

My friend would be devastated to learn we feel this way and are considering ending the friendship, yet she gets defensive and refuses to hear any criticism of her daughter. Do I just forget the friendship, or is there a way to approach this with my friend and try to do some good? – Can’t Stand Her Kid!

Apparently you’ve tried to approach this with your friend, and her defenses knocked you back.

And, you’ve reached the point where you’d consider ending the friendship over the daughter’s rudeness.

Add it up: 1 + 1 = liberation. You have nothing to lose here and society much to gain – not by having a better-worded heart-to-heart with her mom, but by addressing the demon daughter herself, on the spot, with Poppins-like playful restraint (nastiness undermines your point):

When she looks you up and down, “Does my outfit meet your approval?”

When she whispers to her friend, “Ooh, a secret! Please do share – you wouldn’t want to be ruuuude.”

When she answers you with hostile monosyllables, “Hm. You appear to be old enough to speak in full sentences … maybe I should try again.”

Let her mother hear this.

In other words, village up: It’s the adults’ job to teach snippy children the rules. Pull your societal weight. It’s your friend’s prerogative to abdicate that responsibility; however, it’s also your prerogative to correct children who fail to respect an adult.

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