DEAR AMY: My youngest daughter, “Sara,” 12, is as sweet as pie to those she loves. She also speaks her mind — sometimes too plainly. Her mother and I have always waffled between being happy that she sticks up for herself and concerned that her bluntness will alienate people. Recently an older girl, “Carrie,” approached me at our public pool. Carrie attends school with my older daughter. I introduced her to a group of kids nearby as: “A friend of my daughters’.” Carrie responded by putting “friends” in finger-quotes, and then stating, “Your daughters hate me. Sara just said, ‘Hello — go away’ to me.” I jumped right on it with Sara: “How would that make you feel? How do you think it made her feel?” I also tried to make Carrie feel a little better, but honestly, she is simply a tough kid to like — she never really gets into the conversation, and has rough social skills. Of course, this is no excuse for my daughter’s horrible behavior. Sara is prepped to say, “I am sorry I hurt your feelings and was so rude to you” at the next encounter, but neither of our daughters want to be friends with her. Is there anything I can say or do to make Carrie feel better? Should I speak to her parents? I am saddened for this poor girl and ashamed of my daughter’s insensitive remark.
Guilty in NC
DEAR GUILTY: You did a nice job correcting your adolescent — and then you actually confirmed her unkind assessment of the girl she was so cruel to. Way to go, Dad! (To me, it sounds as if “Carrie” is “on the spectrum,” which would explain her affect.)
Your message to your daughter should be, “I don’t care what this other person is like, or if she is challenging, or simply bugs you. You don’t have to be friends with anyone you don’t want to be friends with. You DO have to be kind to others — regardless. It’s that simple. You owe her an apology, and you need to deliver it right now.”
You daughter needs to learn that fierceness and kindness are actually two sides of the same coin. The most wonderful people are those who use their fierceness — and bluntness — to serve, not only themselves, but others. It’s easy, lazy and cowardly to be mean. If your daughter wants to be popular and well-liked (all 12-year-olds do), she will have to learn how to be brave enough to be nice to someone she doesn’t want to befriend.
DEAR AMY: My husband’s parents’ own a beautiful lake house where my husband and I have spent a week or two every summer for decades. Two years ago, my husband and I invited three couples — our close friends — to spend a weekend with us there. Last week, a friend (who was part of the group that vacationed with us two years ago) texted me, saying that she and our other friends were planning on contacting my in-laws to “arrange dates” for the group to vacation at the lake house. She said that she knows my husband and I are busy and might not be able to join them, but they’d like to go this year, and don’t want us to feel like we have to host them. Essentially, our friends planned a vacation (without us) to our family’s house! I contacted my mother and father-in-law, who are incredibly generous and kind people. They were shocked by my friend’s display of entitlement. I told my friend that my in-laws weren’t ready to open the cabin to friends unless family was present, and she replied that it was “fine.” How do I let my friend(s) know that this request/demand was rude and presumptuous? How do I stop this from happening in the future?
Offended and Annoyed
DEAR OFFENDED: Wow, this takes entitlement to a whole new level!
You could deliver a stronger statement by responding: “This is a family home. Your choice to bypass us to solicit an invitation from my in-laws is ... surprising. I wish you hadn’t done that.”
If this person is aggressive enough to continue pushing, simply say, “No.”
DEAR AMY: “Bummed” was a young guy with his first roommate. He was complaining because his roommate routinely wore his clothes, even his underwear, when the roommate’s clothing was dirty. How hard is it to install a lock onto a bedroom door? Bummed needs to get one.
DEAR EASY: A conversation about boundaries should precede the lock installation.