Adapted from a recent online discussion.
Dear Carolyn: I have a friend whose one-upper tendencies have gotten UNBEARABLE since we both had children. Whenever a group of us are talking about our kids (mostly challenges weve had and solutions that have worked), this friend can only brag about how 3-year-old Sophie is so brilliant, so advanced, so unlike the other children at her preschool, always shocking her parents with her first- and second-grade skills.
Maybe this is pure spite on my part, but I really feel like Im going to burst if I dont put Sophies mom in her place. Is there a better way to put an end to this?
Humor and hyperbole might be the only rational response: Yes, well, Homer reproduced the Sistine Chapel ceiling in his playroom. Then give your friend a soft chuck in the shoulder and change the subject.
In other words, declaring Sophie average is the last thing you want to do, because, as youve almost come around to seeing, this has nothing to do with Sophie and everything to do with her moms insecurities. So, the message you want to send is a playful, There you go again but I love you anyway. Assuming it hasnt gotten to the point where you no longer do.
Dear Carolyn: How do you convey to people that being their support line is taking a toll on you? Im traditionally the more mature of my siblings, so my parents often come to me to discuss fights, health issues, etc. My girlfriend often leans on me about things, as do her friends. Its flattering, but its also exhausting! How do I tell people I need to be more selfish for my own sanity without sounding selfish?
First, you stop calling it selfish to want more say in the use of your time. Then, you step back on a case-by-case basis. When one of your parents calls to discuss a health issue, for example, you express sympathy, and then deflect further discussion I really dont know a whole lot about that; your doctors the one to ask.
The key is to think first about why you shouldnt be involved, and next about who should be.
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