Dear Annie: My daughter, an eighth-grader, had always enjoyed going to school until recently. She has many friends and has always received straight A’s. My wife and I have heard from some of her friends’ parents that she is being bullied by two of the popular girls, both online and with gossip behind her back. We have no evidence of the online bullying, as it has been erased. My daughter confirms the bullying and says one of the girls even gets in her face at school, flips her off and calls her names.
She doesn’t want us to get involved, because she thinks that would make it even worse, so she goes about her business, smiles and attempts to be cordial with the girls. I see these two often at sporting events, and we have spoken to the mother of one of them before, so I am considering speaking to her about it despite my daughter’s wishes. Their fathers are out of the picture; one is in jail. And neither mother seems to have much control or the ability to enforce discipline, so I don’t know whether my discussion would make a difference.
Should I speak to the girls themselves (individually) in a nonconfrontational way about why they are doing this? Do you have any suggestions on how to handle this situation? — Desperate Dad
Dear Desperate Dad: Your daughter needs help, but only in a way that comes from someone else. Have you talked to her teachers or school administrators? Most schools are determined to prevent bullying. The adults need to be sensitive of the need to keep you and your daughter out of it so it doesn’t look as if your daughter came crying to Daddy to fight her battles. At the same time, encourage the school administrators to talk to your daughter’s friends and their parents to find out the facts so they can confront the bullies to make sure they stop. If they don’t, you might consider finding a new school. There are too many stories involving teenage bullying that have tragic endings. Your awareness and sensitivity are extraordinary and might well save your daughter from something serious.
Dear Annie: My wife and I were discussing a reply we have noticed from young adults recently. When we are waited on in stores, restaurants and the like, these young people respond to our “thank you” with “no problem.”
After many years of using and hearing “you’re welcome” as the appropriate response, this answer — indicating that we are being done a favor — is a bit grating. Granted, this is not an earth-shaking event, but nonetheless we both find it less than appropriate.
Could you give us your thoughts on this linguistic change? — Out of Touch
Dear Out of Touch: This is a generational thing. Whereas baby boomers say “you’re welcome,” millennials say “no problem.” They mean the same thing. As someone who grew up hearing “you’re welcome,” you find it grating when someone says “no problem” because you interpret it to mean that the person thinks he or she has done you a favor. But that is almost certainly not what the person means. Ask any young person. When young people say “no problem,” they are really saying, “It’s nothing. No need to thank me. I was happy to serve you.” If you interpret it that way, you’ll feel a lot better about it.
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