Q: The 7-year-old daughter of a good friend frequently interrupts her mother when we’re talking, whether in person or on the phone. My friend then breaks off our conversation to deal with her daughter, leaving me to cool my heels. I find this extremely irritating.
A: It certainly is! There are several approaches that might put a stop to it. When you’re on the phone, you can signal that you’re not willing to be held hostage by simply saying, “I really need to hang up now. Why don’t you call me later, after you’ve taken care of Amy.” If the daughter breaks in when you and your friend are together, you could try remarking casually, “I know Amy gets fidgety when we talk. Maybe we can find something to absorb her interest.” Although it’s unfortunate that your friend is allowing her daughter to develop a bad habit, you really can’t offer parenting advice without running the risk of offending her. But she may realize her oversight if you tactfully convey the fact that you aren’t willing to go along with these constant interruptions.