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Dealing with your local mom nemesis

Jen Klein is a New England-based technical writer and mother of three. When she isn't asking her kids to stop bickering, "caramelizing" the dinner or actively ignoring the dust bunnies under the couch, she enjoys knitting, gardening, pho...

“Ugh...her!”

She’s there at every PTA meeting -- sitting on the opposite side, literally and figuratively. She’s giving you the stink eye...or so you think. Every position you take, every suggestion you make, she takes the opposite position or makes a contrary suggestion. You two are like oil and water. It makes your community volunteering uncomfortable at times. It inspires not-so-nice comments and retorts to go zipping around your head (but hopefully not out of your mouth!). Congratulations, you have a nemesis.

women arguing

Not every mom has a nemesis, but enough do that you may well have groaned knowingly when you read that description. Maybe she was a former friend and you had a falling out, or maybe there was a personality clash from the start. Whatever it was, she is someone in your realm you have to deal with on a regular basis. Rather than set a very bad example for your children, think hard about how you are acting with regard to this nemesis and think about the bigger picture.

The bigger picture

While you and your nemesis may not agree on much, the ability to recognize common ground will be critical to navigating this relationship, whether the conflict is truly resolved or you two reach quiet tolerance. Yes, common ground -- you do have some.

Despite vastly different approaches to an issue, you and your nemesis probably both want what is best for your kids. You may disagree on how to get there, but that is a commonality. If you offer the benefit of the doubt that each of you is operating from that positive beginning, you can start to manage the less-than-easy interactions.

Be adult

Whatever you do, make sure you maintain adult behavior. Be respectful and responsible. Don't trash your nemesis publically or in front of your kids. Remember to treat her like you would want to be treated. Your -- and her -- kids are watching the two of you for cues about how to handle these kinds of situations. Do it right the first time. You don't have to like her, but you do have to live in the same community and you do need to find a way to live with this.

Surely other people have caught onto this tension. Getting catty will only make those around you feel even more uncomfortable. Choose to act kindly and responsibility as much for those around you as for yourself. Always act so you can hold your head up high.

Deescalate

If at all possible, deescalate the tension. You may need to approach your nemesis and directly address the issue. Not the most appealing thought, sure, but if it can deescalate the tension and make all your interactions more comfortable for both of you -- and those around you -- do it. Heck, you may even find that you are at odds for no reason. You may even -- gasp! -- develop a little respect for one another.

Agree to disagree

Sometimes the best you can do when you have a mom nemesis is to agree to disagree, even if that agreement is one-sided. Recognize this conflict exists and deal with your counterpart as simply and respectfully as possible. Then move on from the conflict.

With the passage of time, the tension may ease. One of you may move or some other circumstance may change. Hopefully this time of having a nemesis is short-lived. In the meantime, always act so you can hold your head up high.

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