My friend and I have been friends for about 9 years. She has a son who has severe ADHD and my daughter is 5 and she has mild autism.

When my friend is around with her son, her son is very disrespectful to adults. He pulls knives out, cusses, throws rocks at adults, teases the kids like my autistic 5-year-old, telling her to shut up and that nobody likes her. He's like a tornado in the house, just yelling and screaming and tearing up the rooms and I am completely opposite with my kids - there are rules in my house, my kids do not bully or disrespect adults. He tends to literally get under my skin and I just can't help it when a 9-year-old is calling his mother fat, disgusting and is calling me names as well like stupid and idiot, throwing rocks at my husband, stuff like that.

I came out to my friend and told her that she needs to discipline him. She told me she's a single mom and she just doesn't know what to do with him and that we should take a break for a while and we haven't talked since. Did I do the right thing? I did message her angrily so it wasn't me just saying discipline. Trying to make a long story short.

  • 3
    Are you asking for advice that your friend can take to address her child's behavioural issues, or are you asking if you did the right thing by protecting your family from a violent bully? Sep 12, 2018 at 16:37
  • 3
    I'm afraid Did I do the right thing? might induce rather opinion-based answers, which are not encouraged on this site. Could you maybe edit and reword your question in a way that it does not ask for opinion, but for ways to tackle an actual problem (such as how your friend or you should handle that boy)
    – Arsak
    Sep 12, 2018 at 17:18
  • I think you would have to consider that your friend really doesn't know how to change the behaviour of her son. Even with your own kid you should notice that it often isn't as easy as sending them to their room for 5 minutes (once) changes everything.
    – Batavia
    Sep 19, 2018 at 7:49

2 Answers 2


It's a tough spot. We've had a few situations like this one, where you don't want to cross a line, but the kid is either adversarial, cruel, or just a really bad influence. It's not wrong to communicate with the other mother, you will want to tread very lightly. If you know she's a single mom, her kid has ADHD, it's not difficult to assume she is overwhelmed. Maybe she's not on top of her game in other categories, either.

Think about what realistic outcome you want from presenting your issues to her. Then ask yourself what you think that will require from her, and if you see that being logical for her attempt, and accomplish. Don't present to her a request you know she's not going to be able to do.

Wait until you're nice and chill, then just ask how she's doing, how things are going with the kid. Get her to open up a little about it, then organically try to steer things toward a brief talk about what she thinks could work, even just a little, to make HER life easier with this tornado-kid of hers. Then maybe nudge her a little bit towards talking about the concept that her kid is disruptive and harmful to other kids, and it's concerning, and you empathize with her, because you know it's challenging, maybe even add that you don't know how she feels, because only you know what you're really going through.

Or don't let your kid be around her kid anymore. That is also a solid, quality option.


Like your daughter, I am autistic myself. In addition, a section deep in my brain, at the front of the front of the corpus callosum, has been scarred, further inhibiting my ability to experience and interpret emotion. This puts me in a somewhat unique position to respond to this question.

Unfortunately, like autism, ADHD simply means "there's something going on in that brain and we don't really understand what". It's a symptom, not a cause. With functional brain scans, we can see that there are at least six very different unusual patterns of brain metabolism that express as "autism", but we don't have the foggiest idea what they mean.

Sadly, ADHD has become a catch all for everything from "the kid's bored and the teacher doesn't know how to deal with boys" to "there's something seriously wrong here". Dr. Daniel Amen often talks about his nephew who, as a young boy, started expressing unreasonable anger and violence. The "something" in that case turned out to be a large cyst.

Assuming this boy truly has ADHD, then it is not purely a matter of discipline. There is something either mechanical or metabolic (or both) going on in the boy's brain that he cannot control and the doctors do not fully understand. Like autism, ADHD may or may not respond to medications. Kids may or may not outgrow it. Parents are often blamed for something that is outside of their control.

One of my young associates has ADHD. Normally, he is one of the gentlest, politest, and kindest people I know. However, from time to time under certain types of stress the "switch flips", and it is not always obvious to those around him why. Even though he weighs about 80 pounds soaking wet in winter clothes, he scares adults around him when that happens.

Fortunately (or not), I am one of the few people that "get" him. I can actually point at an anatomical chart and say "this part of my brain is damaged, and the result of this damage is these symptoms", which largely mirror his own.

The result of my own brain damage is reduced verbal capacity, and inability to recognize normal social cues, prioritize, or maintain focus. With next to no ability to experience emotion, to all appearances I jump from incredibly patient to all out rage with no warning. Does this sound a lot like ADHD?

As a parent, your first responsibility is to look after your own children.

As a parent of a child with autism, you can probably empathize with your single mother friend better than anyone else. However, you might want to arrange to meet without the kids, with separate babysitters.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .