Dear Jido – April 2024


Dear Jido, 

I belong to a small group of women who are mothers with children all within a few months of each other. Most of our children will be entering preschool in the fall. One friend has asked me to fill out a recommendation form for her son. I looked over the form and realized that if I were to fill it out honestly and she were to see it, she would be less than thrilled. Is there any graceful way I can tell her to ask someone else to fill it out for her? Should I fill it out honestly and send it directly to the school, hoping she’ll never see what I wrote? Please advise… 




Dear Perplexed, 


I’m a little perplexed too. It’s not so clear what is not “thrilling” about the boy. If the child is dangerous and can cause injury to other students, then it seems you would have an obligation to warn the school much like warning someone not to hire a worker that you know is dishonest. If he’s just a little misbehaved and/or mischievous and would likely improve his behavior in a structured environment, then writing that in your “recommendation” would be lashon hara, even regarding a young child. And if it’s because he makes a mess and never says thank you, fill out the form and be done with it.  


But if it is really something more serious, then I recommend the following approach. Tell the mother, “You know I love your son and my son has a great time playing with him whenever they get together. But I’m concerned. Many times, I see him do X and Y and Z and I don’t know if you want me to put that on the form.” 


If it’s the first time she’s heard that, then she’ll appreciate your concern and understand your hesitation. 


If it’s the tenth time she’s heard that, then her feelings won’t be hurt, and she’ll have no problem asking somebody else to fill it out.