Q. There's a mother in my neighborhood who's a huge gossip. My 8-year-old is friends with her daughter, and the woman once told everyone that my child choked hers. (I was there, and it didn't happen.) Another time, after a sleepover at her house, the woman wrote on Facebook that my daughter was rude and bossy. When I posted "???," she deleted her comments. What should I do next?
A. Your goal here isn't to have a who's right/who's wrong argument where the parents act more immaturely than the kids. In any case, the issue isn't whether you agree about specific incidents. It's that this woman goes public when she's angry. So invite her over and say, "We've had a couple of things happen between our kids that upset you. When you're frustrated with my child, I'd really like you to come to me directly and tell me why you're troubled. Then I'd like an opportunity to respond. From there, I'm hoping we can figure out a different way to communicate." It's probably a stretch to expect her to say thank you for reaching out, but you need to stand firm so she doesn't think she can push you or your daughter around.
Originally published in the March 2011 issue of Family Circle magazine.