Traverse City Record-Eagle

Body & Soul

November 30, 2013

Kids behaving badly (not yours, of course)

NEW YORK (AP) — He’s the toddler who always bites. She’s the 6-year-old drama queen prone to “it’s mine” fits and hair-pulling. The problem, for you anyway, is they belong to your best friend, your neighbor or your exceedingly lenient big sister.

With the holidays comes togetherness, sometimes thrust upon us. And with togetherness, especially the obligatory kind, comes major stress — for you and your kids. But friction over the offspring of loved ones strikes all year-round, leading the grown-ups to ponder whether their adult relationships are worth it.

Julie Klam, a Manhattan mom and author of the new book “Friendkeeping,” believes middle ground is possible.

“Do the best you can to see them without their children, but when they are around, take the anthropologist’s point of view: ‘Hmm, that’s interesting that the kid is standing on a table throwing cheese at the wall,’ instead of getting wound up in it,” she said.

Looking for the worst in other people’s kids, and by association other people’s parenting prowess, is a road to nowhere, which may be where you land when things go dangerously wrong. But seriously troubled is different than the day-to-day grind of ill-mannered, bad-tempered kids and their parents who stand around and let it happen, by design or otherwise.

“If you’re in your head keeping score of how rude they are, or whatever the things are that happen, it makes it much worse,” said Klam, who has a 10-year-old daughter.

Klam found herself putting distance between her and a mom friend when the kids were about 18 months old.

“She just never limited her kid’s physical thing, and it was a lot of the kind parenting of ‘Use your words,’ and the kid was flinging books really hard at my kid. My way is pick ‘em up and take ‘em out of there. We could not hang out with the kids together at all.”

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