Sometimes you just want to respond in kind.

How to Deal With a Rude Parent

by Kathryn Rateliff Barr

Teaching children appropriate manners can be difficult. Even with the best modeling at home, your child will run into people who are rude, insensitive and disagreeable. When you encounter rude parents, it’s often hard not to respond in kind, but remember that your child is watching and learning people skills based on your behavior. While you probably won’t lecture the rude parent on Thumper’s Rule – “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say nuthin’ at all,” – you can respond in positive ways that may defuse the situation.

Refuse to respond negatively to rude comments or actions. Don’t take it personally, because the rude behavior may have nothing to do with you. This individual may be reacting to a very bad day or be completely oblivious to his rude behavior. Ignore the comment or action completely, continuing on as if nothing was said or done. Even if the person continues to be rude, at least you responded in an appropriate manner.

Don’t go overboard if you feel you must respond to rude behavior -- two wrongs don’t make a right. Behaving rudely because the other parent was rude won’t solve the problem and may escalate it. Attempt to find a response that gets your point across, but without making things worse. For example, speak kindly and tell a person breaking in line where the end of the line is or ask someone talking on a cell phone in a meeting to please step outside so others can hear the meeting instead of the phone call.

Treat this parent the way you want to be treated. Offer him kindness and respect whether you think his behavior deserves it. Avoid aggression or correcting him as you would if the offender was your child. If you find a way to bring some humor into the situation without ridiculing or appearing to laugh at the person, you may quickly find he responds reasonably and in a considerate manner.

Refuse to keep score. Once you have either addressed the issue with the parent or decided to ignore it, let it go. There isn’t any point in ruining your day by stewing about the incident or by rehashing the incident in your mind every time you see her. Demonstrate by example that forgiving and forgetting is an act of kindness everyone can benefit from.

Disengage from the rude individual if the behavior continues. Walk away from the conversation or remove yourself from his immediate vicinity. If you don’t have to deal with that parent right then, you can give yourself permission to come back later when emotions are calmer.

About the Author

Rev. Kathryn Rateliff Barr has taught birth, parenting, vaccinations and alternative medicine classes since 1994. She is a pastoral family counselor and has parented birth, step, adopted and foster children. She holds bachelor's degrees in English and history from Centenary College of Louisiana. Studies include midwifery, naturopathy and other alternative therapies.

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