How to Deal With a Friend Who Brags Too Much About Her Kids

Three Parts:Being compassionateResponding to the braggingPutting a stop to the boasting

It’s almost inevitable that when you get a group of parents together, comments about their child’s achievements will begin to fly. Although it’s human nature to be proud of your child, especially when they accomplish huge feats, bragging about your child to others can seem both overwhelming and rude to people who feel constantly accosted by the exaggerated updates. If you’ve encountered that friend that doesn’t seem to understand that being a braggart about her or his child isn’t cool, here are a few steps you can take to deal with the behavior.

Part 1
Being compassionate

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    Realize that your friend may be trying to make up for feelings of inadequacy, sadness or disappointment. Is your friend trying to make up her or his own shortcomings or trying to recover from a traumatic event by blowing her child’s achievements out of proportion? Possible reasons that cause her or him to brag may include:
    • Your friend is miserable in her or his job. If your friend is in a dead-end job or frustrated with career choices, she or he may project any job dissatisfaction onto hopes for the child, hyper focusing instead on accomplishments such as scoring a goal at a soccer game to getting an “A” on a paper. This is done with the hope that the child will have a "better life" than the parent.
    • Your friend has endured a loss in her or his life. Missing a parent, spouse or even another child is extremely traumatic. If your friend hasn’t confronted emotional pain or is still working through issues, hyper focusing and “over doing it” when it comes to her or his child may be resulting.
    • Your friend is living through her or his child’s feats. Was your friend the high school football star who never got to make it to the pros? Or did your friend originally want to go to medical school but didn’t have the money or didn’t pass the MCATs? Perhaps if her or his dreams went unfulfilled, the focus is now turned onto the child and any accomplishment that has even a slightest whiff of what the parent originally wanted to do in life is expanded and bragged on.
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    Be aware that the parent may be genuinely proud of the child. Add to that the parent's inability to see that he or she is overdoing the boasting, and the genuinely proud person turns into a boor and hassles all his or her friends instead of being interesting.
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    Consider your own feelings. Be sure that you're not overreacting because a raw nerve is being touched. You might be reacting because your own children are not "meeting up" to the supposed standards being set. If this is the case, remind yourself that everyone develops in their own way and that comparing oneself to others is a recipe for never feeling satisfied and always worrying.

Part 2
Responding to the bragging

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    Change the subject once your friend begins to brag. A quick hint that you really don’t want to hear it is to change the subject the minute she or he says, “Did I tell you how smart Billy is?”
    • Smile when your friend starts to tell the story, allow him or her to finish and then move onto the next subject. You’ll need a good segue but after a story about Sarah’s winning goal at the soccer game and how everyone was carrying her around on their shoulders say, “Oh my God, you should have seen the bride and groom at the last wedding I went to--they were on chairs and people were carrying them on their shoulders. They were adorable!”.
    • Relate the subject being bragged upon with something in the news. From sports to intelligence, don’t comment on what your friend says, but instead relate it to something else. For example, if she or he talks about how gorgeous her or his daughter is, respond by saying how beautiful this Labrador Retriever is that you saw at the pet store yesterday. Make an entire story up about it (even if it didn't happen) where you considered purchasing the dog, but then wasn’t sure--make it lengthy so that you’ve taken the wind out of your friend’s sails.
    • Nip the issue in the bud. The instant she or he starts talking about kids, smile and as nicely as you can and say "Please don't talk to me about your kids/grandkids". Soften this by saying something about wanting to hear how she or he is doing or has been up to. If she or he brings this back to the kid topic, cut your friend off and smile and repeat the request.
    • Jokingly say if she or he wants to tell you about their kids, you have to time it and she or her has to then listen to the same amount of time, of course, of you talking about yours, or your diet, poodle, latest affair, or hemorrhoids. Or, remove the humor and say it with a deadpan face, showing that you're genuine.
    • Look at your watch and say, “Oops, I forgot I have to be somewhere.” If you just don’t want to have any interaction at that point, leave the scene immediately. Make something up but get out of there fast.
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    Avoid the “one-upper.” If you’ve caught on that your friend feels the need to brag about her or his child at every opportunity, don't try to out -do her or him--unless you want to spend an endless amount of time having a brag-fest where no one listens to each other.
    • Pretend to listen and then say, “Hey that’s great.” Walk away from the conversation and don’t engage or add to the comment.
    • Say nothing but, “okay”. This comment may come off as confusing to your friend but there’s really nowhere else the take the conversation from here.
    • End the comment with, “I guess you are really proud”, then change the subject or end the conversation. It may be the affirmation your friend needs, which makes you look good without having to be rude.

Part 3
Putting a stop to the boasting

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    Confront your friend about her or his problem, especially if it infecting your relationship. If you literally can’t stand being around your friend any more because of her or his boasting problem, it’s time to have a heart to heart.
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    Approach the situation from your perspective. Instead of telling your friend that her or his bragging annoys you to no end, instead ask how their child achieved that goal because you’d like to use some tips for your own child.
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    Tell your friend that your relationship seems to be too focused on the kids and not the two of you. Perhaps your friend wants to avoid talking about what is going on with him or her and instead focuses on what is going on with the child because he or she is having personal or professional difficulties.
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    Suggest you and your friend keep the discussion to adult only topics and not on the kids. Doing this may test the friendship because your friend may not be able to relate without talking about her or his child.


  • Being proud and sharing good news with a close friend or family member is fine. The difference is when you try to compare your child to other children and/or continuously and systematically discuss every feat and achievement with anyone who will listen--that’s bragging.
  • Don’t compare your child’s development or skills to what other friends tell you. Every child is different and just because one parent brags that her child was potty trained at three months (which probably isn’t true) doesn’t mean that should be the case for you.
  • Avoid getting too annoyed or talk badly about the child. Remember--this isn’t the child who is bragging, it’s the parent.
  • Accept that some people have nothing else to talk about, so if you want to spend time with them, you either put up or end it.


  • Never pressure your child to do something or be something that makes him/her feel uncomfortable. Just because Jimmy’s mom has pushed him into children’s theater (and tells everyone he is a big star) does not mean your child will enjoy it too.

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Categories: Raising Children | Assertiveness & Self Esteem