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To gently tell my friend why her son is unpopular

(140 Posts)
Whoareyouu Wed 05-Jul-17 03:04:56

NC because this is potentially outing.

Best friend of 20 years has 2 boys, 9 and 11. Eldest one is shy and suffers from anxiety. But once he feels comfortable with his surroundings he is an absolute delightful child, thoughtful and interesting, and he is sensitive and socially aware despite his shyness.

The younger one though is spoilt and bratty. Throws tantrums if he doesn't get his own way, is very whiny and has zero manners.

I love my friend dearly and wouldn't ever wish to hurt her. But she seems completely blind to her younger child's behaviour.

He is bright and knows it. Will often say things like "I'm such a clever boy!" if he gets something right. And gloats when another child gets an answer wrong.

My friend gets upset that he is unpopular and doesn't understand why. She reasons that people are jealous and that it is a side effect of being gifted.

I have bitten my tongue on so many occasions. But it is getting worse and now he is getting bullied for being a show off know all.

Obviously bullying is wrong and my friend is absolutely right to tackle it with the school. But AIBU to gently say something to her or should I keep my mouth shut to avoid upsetting her?

MissionItsPossible Wed 05-Jul-17 03:09:04

Only give your opinion if she specifically asks you*, otherwise, bite your tongue and stay well away.

*and be prepared for a major fall out if you decide to tell her the home truths if she does ask you.

sofato5miles Wed 05-Jul-17 03:10:25

Stay out of it. You would hurt her too deeply. I dislike two of my friends' children but say quiet and ignore.

LionsOnTour Wed 05-Jul-17 03:16:03

I'd keep quiet too. If she directly asked I'd still keep quiet

NoncommittalToSparkleMotion Wed 05-Jul-17 03:22:55

Don't say a word. Nothing good will come of it. Even though you're right.

stonecircle Wed 05-Jul-17 03:24:22

Presumably he will work out for himself that certain behaviour from him causes an unpleasant response amongst his peers and lead him to modify his behaviour.

I wouldn't say anything.

AdalindSchade Wed 05-Jul-17 03:37:57

You couldn't really do this and keep your friendship. If she's that blind to it after 9 years then she's not going to take it well.

PyongyangKipperbang Wed 05-Jul-17 04:29:05

THere is absolutely no way that you can tell her this without it ruining your friendship. Not a single way.

You are right, and I wish there was a way of saying this because I have a friend (ish, we dont really see each other anymore) with kids just like this although the eldest is the self satisfied one and the youngest the engaging one, but there really isnt.

Answer honestly if asked, if you dont mind her saying you are as bad as the bullies, but otherwise dont say anything

user1497480444 Wed 05-Jul-17 05:10:51

when posters use the word " gently" like this, it means they feel superior and are expecting some sort of endorsement from other posters that they are right to be judgmental and patronising.

You don't like the boy, and feel you have the moral high ground because you think you can identify moral deficiencies in him, and want to say so.

Your post indicated more moral deficiencies in you than in the child. Why would you want to badmouth a 9 year old boy to his mother? its nothing to do with you, and what ever you think, you won't have any sort of full picture at all.

By your own description this is an unhappy, defensive, bullied child. Shame on you. Butt out.

Katmeifyoucan Wed 05-Jul-17 05:21:28

What User said ^.

Iwasjustabouttosaythat Wed 05-Jul-17 05:26:26

User is absolutely right. Which kids does he gloat to? Yours? Are you a bit upset he's more knowledgeable than them?

People who complain about "know it alls" as anti-intellectual jerks.

elfinpre Wed 05-Jul-17 05:30:29

I would say it to him directly, in front of his mum, when he boasts/gloats. "Yes you are so clever! Well done. It could be though that X is better at other things that you can't do. Might it not hurt their feelings if you call them stupid?"

Mummyoflittledragon Wed 05-Jul-17 05:30:54

This sounds like an unhealthy family dynamic. Support the children where you can. The eldest probably feels deeply inferior and the behaviour of the younger boy isn't the behaviour of a well balanced and happy child. For the rest, I would try to model the behaviour for your friend or if you know your friend and her children extremely well, say something to him when he does it, but be kind and loving. All children need care and to feel they are approved of and unconditionally loved. It doesn't sound as if there is much of this going on in their family.

Neutrogena Wed 05-Jul-17 05:55:48

If she is a good friend, say something. She will appreciate your honesty.
Otherwise, keep schtum.

livefornaps Wed 05-Jul-17 06:15:19

He'll probably grow out of it by himself

RadioGaGoo Wed 05-Jul-17 06:24:07

OP, I don't think your post makes you sound superior, patronising, 'morally deficient' or upset. It's sounds like a perfectly reasonable request for advice.

I would not mention it to your friend however. If your post can be misconstrued here, I imagine that your concern could also be misconstrued by the mother.

LionsOnTour Wed 05-Jul-17 06:33:19

OP, I don't think your post makes you sound superior, patronising, 'morally deficient' or upset. It's sounds like a perfectly reasonable request for advice

I agree, I think it's a valid question. I had a similar issue myself with a friend who asked me if I thought there was anything 'wrong' with her son. (Her words not mine). I just kept repeating the line that he seemed fine to me but that if she was at all worried she should speak to her GP.

LilyMcClellan Wed 05-Jul-17 06:37:34

Might be worth considering why he has turned out "spoilt" and his brother hasn't, despite having the same parenting.

The kid may be very much aware that he's not as good at other things as other kids are, and showing off of his intelligence is the only way he feels he can shine.

Or maybe his parents put a heavy weight on succeeding academically, so much so that he equates being "the best" with being "best loved".

The truth is that smart kids frequently are bullied and unpopular for no other reason that being smart, whether they're cocky about it or not. For some reason, sporting prowess seems not to attract the same bullying.

All worth considering before "gently informing" the kid's mother that it's his own fault that other kids are being mean to him.

HotelEuphoria Wed 05-Jul-17 06:39:10

He will work it out for himself, probably not before high school but sadly by then it may be too late. I have mentioned this before on MN but I know two very good examples of this and it didn't end well and now at 23 and 20 these two young people are not popular.

MaisyPops Wed 05-Jul-17 06:39:50

Wow. Some posters are really going for the OP.

I've taught a number of students who are reasonably bright and think it's OK to rub it in everyone's faces. It's not a pleasant trait to have. Or, as someone said to me secure and intelligent people know the limits of their intelligence. I've had to do what some other posters have suggested and explain to children why it's not kind to smirk or laugh at other people giving answers (and basically why it's a dick move because I'm secondary so if they've not grown out of it by 14 then it's really not nice).

Put it this way, in the workplace if someone prances around like a know it all and laughs/smirks at other people's contributions to meetings then colleagues would probably keep their distance.

Same in children.

Would I tell a friend? Probably not. For her child to think that kind of behaviour is OK and she doesn't understand anyone's issue, she probably wouldn't be receptive.

RodeoDriveBaby Wed 05-Jul-17 06:46:02

People who complain about "know it alls" as anti-intellectual jerks.

What utter nonsense.

CauliflowerSqueeze Wed 05-Jul-17 06:48:54

Don't mention it. Please don't.

He will find out for himself when other kids don't put up with it.

MaisyPops Wed 05-Jul-17 06:51:36

People who complain about "know it alls" as anti-intellectual jerks.

Not at all.
Anti-intellextual would be having an issue with people being intelligent and academic.

The issue people have here is someone being rude and unkind (and if they were an adult, I'd say they were a bit of a dickhead).

I have above average intelligence (God I sound like a twat writing that). I also have the humility to be quietly confident in my ability and the empathy to not be a dickhead.

Could I correct people? Yes.
Should I correct people? Depends on the circumstances and he manner of correction.
Should I smirk or laugh or roll my eyes at others trying? No. Because I'm not a dickheads and it's basic manners.

MaisyPops Wed 05-Jul-17 06:51:55


Beachcomber Wed 05-Jul-17 06:52:11

"I'm such a clever boy!"

This sounds like he is parroting his parents.

In which case I wouldn't say anything as it is likely nothing will change and they will resent you for it.

It is frustrating - I know a child who is constantly told he is wonderful for doing normal things. He is growing up to be selfcentered and rude with a fondness for only doing what he wants. I thought many times about saying something but the problem is the parents themselves.

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