As a mother of young daughters, keeping them respectful in language and treatment of others is an important part of my role.
I drive another girl, five, to a swimming class; she's in the car with my children for an hour total. During that time, she swears, uses toilet language, and speaks very rudely to me. Naturally, my kids end up giggling and thinking she's cool.
I spoke to the child about it - she's very bright and clearly understands everything. I said I wouldn't be able to drive her if she continued. She told her mother I was "mean" to her, but her mother told me I was right to admonish the child.
I like the mother. Her work hours wouldn't allow for her child to have this activity unless I drove her. And my six-year-old adores this "BFF." But the potty mouth and rudeness has continued. What should I do?
Call the mother and say you'd like to come to a mutual agreement about how to stop this behaviour, at least when the child is with you and your children. This way, she'll have a chance to participate, no matter how it goes.
My suggestion is for her to tell the child she'll not be able to go to swimming classes with you anymore if she persists this way.
But if the mother is offhand or doesn't follow through, that's your next step to take... say you're sorry, but you can't carry on. If the mother does nothing about this, she either has a very different child-rearing philosophy (which she's entitled to), or a child who's consistently acting out - which means there are reasons she should explore.
I'm 60, and 18 months ago, my partner of six years had a project in another country and promptly began an affair. After lying and cheating for two months, he dropped me cold in a phone call, saying he was in love with a woman 15 years younger.
I slipped into a profound depression. He didn't contact me for six months during this affair. For two years prior, we'd been very emotionally close, but due to a medical treatment then, our sex life had been non-existent.
After six months, she ended the relationship and he begged to return. I accepted, but it's been a very rocky road. I cannot get over the complete lack of empathy he showed, the lying, cheating, and other cruel things he said and did.
It caused me a year of grief and visits to mental health practitioners. He wants us to have a future together but gets defensive and moody when I try to discuss things, and won't talk about it anymore.
We've sought counselling together but things didn't improve. He's trying hard to be a good partner, but I cannot forget what happened and his behaviour toward his life partner.
A future together means clearing as much of the past as possible out of the way. Counselling will never work if he won't talk, and you won't forgive.
There's background here not fully appreciated by either of you... e.g. the effect of the no-sex phase on both, the reason for needing that medical treatment you mention, his shabby treatment of you, and then his humiliation at being dumped, too.
However, you did take him back.... and that means you both think this worth a serious effort. Do the work of talking it through with professional guidance, and then put it behind you.
FEEDBACK Regarding the brother-in-law's Thanksgiving drop-in, with unruly children, during the writer's parents' visit (Nov. 7 column):
Reader - "Could they not have called in advance of leaving their own home, and shown a little courtesy before invading someone else's?
"Could they have displayed a little common courtesy, when upon arriving and seeing these folks otherwise engaged, done the right thing and offered to leave?
"It baffles me as to how people can excuse rude, disrespectful, and inconsiderate behaviour from people simply because they're family. Respect crosses all lines, or it should."
My response in this case, was directed to the fact he and his wife were now arguing about the visit. We don't know if her brother intrudes regularly, which would definitely be inconsiderate and rude.
BUT the topic of unexpected "drop-ins" aroused interesting, and divided responses. Send me your stories and comments, which I'll publish in the future.
Tip of the day:
A parent has the right to be true to his/her own socially acceptable principles.