I recently sat around a campfire with my husband and two other sets of parents, as our collective brood of nine slept in tents nearby. The conversation turned to the delicate dance of friendship with other parents, and how not to mess it up.

We all agreed that — in the absence of an emergent threat to human life — you do not go around criticizing other people's parenting moves. Life is not the Parenting Olympics, and you are not Dick Button.

So, how do you behave yourself when you see another parent pull a move that would rate a 0.2 out of 10 on your scorecard? I think we all have areas where we intensely disagree with other people's parenting. Personally, I give low marks to parents who reward a tantrum or put the child in the driver's seat in a parent/child negotiation.

But when I see a friend perform my parenting pet peeve, do I tell her? Not on your life. Here are 10 things to say when a friend displays poor parenting form, instead of critiquing her skills:

1. Nothing. Distract yourself with zipping your child's jacket, fiddle with your iPhone, whatever it takes to not notice the move.

2. Confess. Did you cave on bedtime last night or scream when you should have calmly reminded your kid of the rules? Share a recent incident when things did not go well between you and your child. Come on — you probably don't have to think back too far.

3. Express sympathy without too many details. "It's so exasperating when they fight."

4. Ask a question that will allow your friend to vent or explain. "Is this a hard time of day for him?"

5. Offer practical help — respectfully. Ask the parent in a whisper if it would help if you gave their kid some crackers or take them for a little walk. People, you need to know when to use this one and when to hold back, because this is a very difficult maneuver to pull off correctly.

6. Distract. If you're a play date host, start a new activity or suggest a trip to the park.

7. If asked, be honest about how you handle the same situation. If asked. Keep it short and straightforward — don't lecture.

8. Ignore bait. If your friend asks if you think what they did was wrong, the strongest you can say is "That's not what I do, but parents handle things in different ways."

9. If asked for advice, talk specifically about your own child. "For Riley, we realized that his behavior problems improved a lot when we moved up his bedtime." Not "I think you'd see a big difference in Suzie of you made sure she got enough sleep."

10. If asked for advice, punt to an expert. Recommend a book or website that helped you with a similar problem. That way, any criticism inherent with advice-giving comes from the expert, not from you.

You might say that the above evasive moves are dishonest and unhelpful to a parent whose mistakes are truly hurting her child. I say, friends are not parenting instructors. There is plenty of parenting advice and information available to parents who want to change their techniques — you're not keeping a friend in the dark if you resist adding your own two cents.

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