Miss Conduct

Advice: Should I call out an old friend for insulting my kid?

He made a stupid comment that hurt my daughter’s feelings. And now I have to decide whether to confront him.

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My husband and daughters are all dyslexic and very intelligent, and my daughters go to a prestigious school for dyslexic children. One of my daughters was recently with a family friend who asked if there was any girl drama at her school. When my daughter replied, “No, not this week,” he told his daughter maybe she should develop dyslexia so she can go to the school! My daughter felt so awkward and insulted. I’m so glad my husband was not home or he probably would have gone ballistic! We have to see this man at an event. Should I take the high road or address this?

Anonymous / Boston

But addressing this is taking the high road. Why do you think it’s morally admirable to fail to stand up for your children? Why is it your social duty to protect this boorish man from the consequences of his actions? Your daughter said something to you in the hopes that you would fight for her or teach her how to appropriately defend herself verbally against adults. Parents should have their kids’ backs against random acts of “friendly” aggression by adults.

This man bullied a child in a repellently ableist and sexist way. Girl drama? Really? Exactly who is bringing the drama in this situation, and who is trying to smooth it all over?


You need to start smacking back on this man, and hard. It sounds like your husband has the chops for the job, if you don’t — start deploying him! If Mr. Just Kidding is part of your social circle, so be it, but don’t call anyone “family friend” who isn’t an actual friend to your family.

Miss Conduct is Robin Abrahams, a writer with a PhD in psychology.

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