Friend needs space after parenting criticism

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Ask Amy Amy Dickinson, Ask Amy

Amy Dickinson is a general advice columnist. ...

DEAR AMY: I have been friends with "Suzy" forever. She has two lovely boys, but she is a helicopter parent. She doesn't let her boys make decisions on their own. As a schoolteacher of more than 20 years, I often work with parents to help modify behaviors. While visiting her, I saw her eldest son almost hit another child while playing. It was completely accidental, and no one was hurt. Suzy ran over to her son and told him he shouldn't hit other kids, etc. I stepped in and told her that it was innocent and her boy is at the age to make decisions and understand the consequences, and that maybe embarrassing him in front of others wasn't the best approach. Realizing I overstepped (admittedly, I get into teacher mode), I apologized to her. I understand parents want to parent the way they see fit. Six weeks later I hadn't heard from her. I reached out by phone and text. She responded by text: "Hey, I really need some space and can't talk to you for a while. Wish you joy." I was flabbergasted. Do I deserve banishment? I feel that after all this time she could talk to me like an adult. What are your thoughts?

-- Upset Friend

DEAR FRIEND: You have admitted that what you did was wrong, but you are also minimizing your own behavior by continuing to criticize "Suzy."

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You criticize her as a "helicopter," but isn't this exactly what you were doing? Hovering, swooping in, correcting and shaming? Calling out a parent over a parenting choice that, in my opinion, is justifiable (from her perspective) is extreme, and this is why her reaction is extreme.

In addition to her being angry with you, if you habitually jump in to correct her, or if she feels scrutinized and criticized, then she might not want to work things out or continue the friendship at all. Accept that she genuinely wishes you joy and move on.

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