How do I deal with a misbehaving boy who is being mean to my son?


I am having a hard time lately with the way my preteen son is treated by his long time friend at church. One week the friend will be his buddy, the next week he will purposely exclude him and make an issue over leaving him out of a conversation by saying something like "I don't want you to hear this" and ask him to leave the group. Needless to say my son's feelings have been very hurt. As I type this to you it sounds kind of petty, but that is just one example. I have talked to the other boy's mother and she kind of blows it off. She says we have to let them work it out. At times she will confront him and he tells her a different story and it becomes apparent he is not being truthful, yet she doesn't seem to recognize this. I have grown tired of this boy's games, and it seems obvious he is pulling the wool over his mother's eyes and our friendship is suffering as well. Should I come right out and say "look, your son is lying to you"? We are very involved with our kids and really hold them to a higher standard. I think that's the big difference in parenting that is frustrating me. I sound judgmental, but it seems she is turning a blind eye to his bad behavior. I don't know if any of this makes sense or if my question is even clear.


This might sound like a strange question, but what does your husband say about all of this? Boys and girls deal with problems in a different manner. I've seen boys have a knock-down drag-out fight and an hour later be the best of buddies. Girls tend to have verbal spats, but they have more difficulty letting a matter go. Both are over-generalizations, but in asking what your husband thinks, it would give a male perspective on what is a male relationship problem.

The boy does have problems, given that he is lying and manipulating people so he is in control. But you can't solve this problem by going around to the boy's mother. Unfortunately, just because someone is a Christian, it doesn't mean they always do the right thing or raise their children well. Whether she likes to admit it or not, she is raising a bully.

We can hope he grows out of it, but in the meantime, what is best is to help your son learn to deal with the problems this boy causes because the world is full of these types of characters. Think about it. In ten years, he can't expect his mother to talk to his boss because a coworker is being mean. This is a good learning opportunity where you are there to coach him in how he ought to behave, what to look for in these types of situations and how to defuse a problem.

I would start with the end of Romans 12:

"Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep. Be of the same mind toward one another. Do not set your mind on high things, but associate with the humble. Do not be wise in your own opinion. Repay no one evil for evil. Have regard for good things in the sight of all men. If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men. Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, "Vengeance is Mine, I will repay," says the Lord. Therefore "If your enemy is hungry, feed him; If he is thirsty, give him a drink; For in so doing you will heap coals of fire on his head." Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good" (Romans 12:14-21).

Go over these verses and discuss how they are applied in general and in this specific case. Point out that since this other boy isn't in charge, you son doesn't have to follow his demands. He doesn't need to be obnoxious about it, but he is allowed to ignore those who are not in authority. Talk about how he can confuse the boy by saying or doing something unexpectedly nice while remaining his own person.

Another thing to do is introduce him to Proverbs. Solomon wrote them particularly for young men. There are sections that I would skip for the time since they deal with sexual matters, but there is a gold mine of information on how to handle relationships. What is fascinating to me is that each time I read it, different things come to my notice because what is meaningful is what you are going through at the moment. The early chapters can be taken as topics, but starting in chapter 10 is just a series of short proverbs. These are perfect for boys who don't have great attention spans anyway. Assign one or two proverbs a day. Perhaps writing it out, define the main words, talk about what the proverb means and when to apply it. Help him to see how ideas are being compared and contrasted between the lines. You'll be surprised how it slowly starts to modify your thinking (and his) when faced with difficulties.

Thanks for your reply and your advice. It's funny, my husband actually told me a week ago he didn't think talking to the mother would do any good, and my older son also said "Mom, let him work it out himself," so your reply makes a lot of sense. I probably needed to listen to a boy's perspective but as a girl I can't let things go easily Hahaha! I definitely use scripture to counsel him. And we need to start a daily reading of Proverbs. Thanks again for your input.