I've written about how to know you're dealing with a Mommy
Troll, but once you've identified one, how do you deal with her? More
importantly, how do you avoid getting sucked into her toxic world of her vs.
you? Here are a few gentle but firm ways to disengage from the Mommy Troll without losing your cool.
1. "Really? Isn't it great that we all have such different parenting styles? I love it."
When the Mommy
Troll starts a sentence with, "I could never…" you can be sure that whatever
follows will be something you are doing. For example, "I could never go back to work and
leave my baby," "I could never send my daughter to public school," or "I could
never feed my kids processed food." Whatever the scenario, the Mommy Troll is
saying one thing: "I love my children more than you love yours." While the
temptation may be to get defensive or find some critical flaw in the Mommy
Troll's parenting, take the high road.
A thoughtful expression, a nod and a well-placed, "That's really interesting," will get you through the next PTA meeting, family gathering or soccer game.
2. "Fascinating. Thank you for sharing your perspective."
When the Mommy
Troll offers her unsolicited advice, you might feel like reaching across the
table and strangling her. When that moment passes, smile gently and say,
"Fascinating. Thank you for sharing your perspective." You can, of course,
emphasize the word your, hoping she will take the subtle hint that everyone has an opinion and
hers is not wanted. But Mommy Trolls generally don't understand subtlety, so
don't expect her to shut up. Just keep smiling and repeating, "I
appreciate you sharing your perspective."
3. Let her one-up you.
The Mommy Troll
is queen of one-upping. No matter what it is you have experienced, she has
done it better. There are two ways you can go here: Either avoid
sharing your experiences with the Mommy Troll, especially anything you think
will bring out her competitive spirit, or respond to her one-uppings with, "You
are so incredible. Wow." Throw in a little smile and a head shake and she'll
think you're talking about her 76 hours of labor or the fact that she taught
her 2-year-old a second language in six weeks, when in reality you're referring
to her utter lack of consideration for your experience.
4. Deflect when she's talking about other moms.
Other moms are
always a topic of conversation with the Mommy Troll. And she's not lauding
their accomplishments (unless she's taking credit for them doing things her
way). Instead she's gossiping about them. Once again, you need to take the high road.
No matter how tempting it might be to dish about the other moms, you can be
sure you're being talked about when you're not around. Anytime the topic
of another mom comes up, deflect the Mommy Troll with, "My philosophy is live
and let live. Now, what are you doing this weekend?" It's not at all subtle,
but the Mommy Troll will have no choice but to let you change the subject or
look like the gossip she is.
5. Flatter her—whatever will get her off your back.
the Mommy Troll, there is only one right way to raise a child: her way. And no
one is doing it right, including you. When faced with the stack of Internet
research, the Mommy Troll produces to prove her superiority (and it doesn't matter
if her research comes from the WHO or some quack website), pretend to seriously
consider her point of view. Then take whatever printout, pamphlet or URL she
gives you and say, "That's really interesting. I'll look into it. I admire how conscientious you are on the subject." The flattery will get her off your
6. "You're a great mom."
The Mommy Troll
enjoys being a martyr. When she's not picking apart your parenting choices or
gossiping about other moms, she is bemoaning her own sacrifices. She fails to
recognize that we all have made choices for the sake of our kids, families and
relationships, and she truly feels as if she has done more and given up more than all of us. The
only response you need to give her (and, in truth, the only response she wants
to hear) is, "You're a great mom." The
validation you give her might allow you to change the subject. If not, this is
the point where you remember you have to make an important phone call. Then
walk away and let her wallow in her martyrdom.
mistake: No matter her place in your life or how long you've known her, the
Mommy Troll isn't really your friend. If you can't entirely cut her from your
life because she's someone you have to see regularly (or worse, are related
to), then you need to remember that you can't count on her to be your friend
when you need her. Don't learn this one the hard way—no matter how she insists
she cares about you and wants to help you, what she's really saying is that she wants
you to admit she's a better mom, wife and person than you are. If you put your faith
or trust in her, you will be disappointed and feel betrayed. So nod
and thank her for her concern, but when you need help, ask one of your real friends.
If it seems
like it's exhausting to deal with a Mommy Troll, it's because it is. But
there are times when you have no choice, when you are in close proximity to a
woman who thinks she's superior to you in every way, and truly the best thing to do is to
kill her with kindness. A thoughtful expression, a nod and a well-placed, "That's really
interesting," will get you through the next PTA meeting, family gathering or
soccer game. Keep your contact to a minimum, remember that her issues are not
your issues and keep smiling.