Skip to main content
The Globe and Mail
Support Quality Journalism.
The Globe and Mail
First Access to Latest
Investment News
Collection of curated
e-books and guides
Inform your decisions via
Globe Investor Tools
per week
for first 24 weeks

Enjoy unlimited digital access
Enjoy Unlimited Digital Access
Get full access to
Just $1.99 per week for the first 24 weeks
Just $1.99 per week for the first 24 weeks
var select={root:".js-sub-pencil",control:".js-sub-pencil-control",open:"o-sub-pencil--open",closed:"o-sub-pencil--closed"},dom={},allowExpand=!0;function pencilInit(o){var e=arguments.length>1&&void 0!==arguments[1]&&arguments[1];select.root=o,dom.root=document.querySelector(select.root),dom.root&&(dom.control=document.querySelector(select.control),dom.control.addEventListener("click",onToggleClicked),setPanelState(e),window.addEventListener("scroll",onWindowScroll),dom.root.removeAttribute("hidden"))}function isPanelOpen(){return dom.root.classList.contains(}function setPanelState(o){dom.root.classList[o?"add":"remove"](,dom.root.classList[o?"remove":"add"](select.closed),dom.control.setAttribute("aria-expanded",o)}function onToggleClicked(){var l=!isPanelOpen();setPanelState(l)}function onWindowScroll(){window.requestAnimationFrame(function() {var l=isPanelOpen(),n=0===(document.body.scrollTop||document.documentElement.scrollTop);n||l||!allowExpand?n&&l&&(allowExpand=!0,setPanelState(!1)):(allowExpand=!1,setPanelState(!0))});}pencilInit(".js-sub-pencil",!1); // via darwin-bg var slideIndex = 0; carousel(); function carousel() { var i; var x = document.getElementsByClassName("subs_valueprop"); for (i = 0; i < x.length; i++) { x[i].style.display = "none"; } slideIndex++; if (slideIndex> x.length) { slideIndex = 1; } x[slideIndex - 1].style.display = "block"; setTimeout(carousel, 2500); } //


I recently got a call from the vice-principal at my son's school. Another mother had complained that my son had been mean to hers. I was surprised because we have a school carpool with this family and this boy had just spent a perfectly happy overnight at our house. My son and his friends are preteens and mutual name-calling and teasing often happens. They usually sort things out on their own.

Story continues below advertisement

However, now he distrusts his friend, whom he insists did not seem that upset at the time. When I discussed the incident with the other mother, I clearly acknowledged that my child was being a bully, but then she made some veiled comments about her superior parenting skills. Now I'm feeling resentful of her self-righteous attitude and think she should have called me first before complaining to the school. Is there a graceful way I can deal with this situation?


Madam: It is my honour and pleasure to attempt to assist you.

However, it's hard to tell from your letter what exactly your son did to qualify as a "bully."

Damage Control does not condone the use of physical force or intimidation, except in extreme circumstances.

But it doesn't sound like your son did any pushing and shoving. Sounds like all he did was insult his friend verbally.

In which case, I have to say (you said these kids are preteens, aka "tweenagers," right?): Welcome to the world of men, son.

Story continues below advertisement

I have whole relationships with other men in which we communicate with nothing but insults:

"You're getting so fat. Your head's the size of a basketball, you know that."

"Is it my imagination or is your bald spot bigger since I last saw you?"

It doesn't mean we don't like each other. We do. We love each other. Women find the insults difficult to fathom, and to tell you the truth, I don't understand them much myself. Maybe it's some hunter-gatherer or soldier thing, designed to toughen each other up for the hunt, or for battle?

But it is what it is, and probably the sooner your son's friend gets used to this fact, the better.

And, yes, insofar as possible, men, and tweens, should attempt to solve their beefs betwixt and be-"tween" themselves.

Story continues below advertisement

I'm not surprised your son doesn't trust this kid any more. The moment Little Lord Fauntleroy ran with his frilly Peter Pan collar flapping all the way to the hem of his mother's skirt, crying "Wah wah wah, I feel so insulted by my friend's mean comments," he committed a Class 1 violation of the Dude Code.

(Of course, if all the other kids were systematically targeting this boy with verbal abuse, Lord of the Flies style, then I'd be giving you different advice. But that doesn't seem to be the case here.)

I have in my library a book called The Way of the Superior Man. I would say, for your son, the way of the superior tween is, first, to go eyeball to eyeball with his friend and say something to the effect of: "I can't believe you ratted me out like that. Next time come to me like a man, and if I've offended you in some way, I'll apologize like a man. We're tweenagers, now. It's time we set aside childish things, like running and tattling and clutching mommy's apron strings."

As for your role in the kerfuffle, I agree with you, the other mother should have come to you first, not gone off tattling to the vice-principal.

But hey, the apple obviously doesn't fall far from the tree. Where do you think your son's friend got the idea tattling was an excellent way to solve his problems?

This mother-son duo sounds like a prize pair of whiners. No doubt they feel right at home in the "culture of complaint" in which we currently live.

Story continues below advertisement

They obviously also don't mind a bit of drama, either, and were able to whip up quite a cappuccino-style froth of it, out of what appears in essence to have been a non-incident.

Which is why I have to say: The way of the superior mother, here, mommy dearest, is not to engage.

I remember in the days when I was a stay-at-home dad, any time anyone pushed the "Bad Dad" button, my corpuscles would begin to simmer.

These days, though, I think: Anyone who would go there has to be a little whacked, anyway.

Or as my mother always says: "Consider the source."

Don't sink to her level. Any confrontation will only lead to further drama, and who needs it?

Story continues below advertisement

Don't even make a frosty crack or shoot her a nasty look.

Rise above it all, mamacita. At any further evidence of her boorish/underhanded behaviour, just smile quietly to yourself, shake your head and think: "Poor woman, she's obviously got some issues."

Lead by example.

David Eddie is a screenwriter and the author of Chump Change and Housebroken: Confessions of a Stay-at-Home Dad.

I've made a huge mistake

Have you created any damage that needs controlling? Send your dilemmas to, and include your hometown and a daytime contact number so we can follow up with any queries.

Your Globe

Build your personal news feed

  1. Follow topics and authors relevant to your reading interests.
  2. Check your Following feed daily, and never miss an article. Access your Following feed from your account menu at the top right corner of every page.

Follow the author of this article:

Follow topics related to this article:

View more suggestions in Following Read more about following topics and authors
Report an error Editorial code of conduct
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

If you do not see your comment posted immediately, it is being reviewed by the moderation team and may appear shortly, generally within an hour.

We aim to have all comments reviewed in a timely manner.

Comments that violate our community guidelines will not be posted.

UPDATED: Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

To view this site properly, enable cookies in your browser. Read our privacy policy to learn more.
How to enable cookies