Dear David Coleman: 'How do I tell a friend his son is badly behaved and a danger?'
Q My son and his friend (both eight years old) go swimming most Saturdays. The family of this child don't have a car, so he and his dad come with us. My son's friend is very disruptive in the car, jumping about, shouting, and it's becoming a safety issue as it's very distracting. The boy's father does almost nothing to correct him and it's clear from the child's behaviour he is spoiled. We think we need to talk to his dad, but how should we broach it?
David replies: I think you need to broach it clearly and unambiguously. The issue isn't about judging his behaviour as "bold" or "spoiled". The issue is about safety. This boy makes car journeys unsafe because his behaviour is out of control.
Your ability to impose order in the car is more limited because you're driving, and so it is the dad's responsibility to ensure that his son doesn't create danger.
I think it is perfectly appropriate to be
really assertive about what you need as the driver (and also the person doing them a huge favour every week!).
If this dad can't manage his son's behaviour safely, then stop giving them a lift. If he takes offence at being asked to ensure his son behaves, then so be it. Better to lose a friendship than to lose your lives in an otherwise preventable accident.