BPN is now a 501(c)(3) non-profit and we are building a new website!
Read more, and see how you can help:
Friends & Their Kids
Berkeley Parents Network >
Parenting, Families, & the Community >
Friends & Their Kids
We moved a couple of years ago. Within the first 3 months of living in the new
town, my daughter (then 3 ) met her best friend ever. Happily, we adored her single
mom, and became like family. Over the next year and a half we took trips together,
and spent every spare moment together. Then something changed. While the girls
still adored each other, it became clear that the mother was no longer interested in
being friends. She has not yet been able to talk about why, so we are in the dark,
and mystified about what went wrong. But in the meantime, our little girl asks
about her friend almost daily, wanting to call, and get together. She cry's about the
loss of her only friend in a new town, and Im at a loss of how to help her. She has
missed her terribly this summer. In Sept. they will start a new school together in
the same class. Im not sure how to support her as we head into the school year,
and a new kindergarten class. Im not sure how to deal with the mom either. I've
reached out to her many times, and been met with silence. Maybe the girls will
continue to be friends when they are in school, away from parents, but how can we
help her understand the adult, and unexplained loss of all the play dates, and
companionship? She has done Nothing wrong! Any words of wisdom?
I really feel for you. I could have written your post. The
only way I felt I could continue to support the friendship was
to acknowledge in passing that although we don't get together
(the moms) as much anymore we would love our daughters to
continue to be friends as they seem to like each other a lot. I
call for playdates and have her daughter over and take her out
just like any other child of someone I am not personal friends
with. When I call my ex friend I never enter into any personal
conversation, keeping it playdate business only. As she is
willing to let her daughter have regular playdates with us this
tells me that she trusts me with her child and supports her
daughter's choice of friend. I have mourned the loss of that
adult friendship. I'll probably never know why we stopped being
good friends. I've just had to write it off as something I've
said or done or perhaps I'm just not the type of person that
meets her need as a friend. That she is unwilling to discuss it
means to me that she doesn't feel the friendship is worth
saving. I've come to peace with that and moved on.
Good luck. Hopefully she will realize that her daughters
friendships are spearate from hers and will support them if she
considers them healthy.
Well that is great that they will be in school together. That
will be a lot of time together without you having to do anything.
Otherwise, have you asked the mom if the girls can just play
together with one of you supervising, so you two don't have to be
together? Your daughter is so young, I don't think you need to
explain anything about not being friends with her friend's mom
anymore, just act as if they went on a long vacation and tell her
something to that effect (they are just really busy but you will
see each other everyday at school!)
As for the mystery reason for the mother breaking up with
you...you mention that she is a single mom and it seems like you
are not...is something up with her and your husband? Did he try
something, or is she secretly in love with him? Questions to
Something similar happened to my son when he was in nursery
school. He developed a very deep and delightful friendship with
a boy, and we were friendly with the boy's parents. Then, like
in your case, with no warning or explanation, the other mom
decided all of the relationships were over. No more playdates,
no more shared classes, no more dinners. It hurt us all very
much--and I saw that it also hurt the other boy. I am very sorry
that this has happened in your daughter's life, and in yours.
We told our son that the break had nothing to do with him--that
was the most important thing--but instead happened because of
what their family decided. We told him we did not know why they
chose to end the friendships, and that we had tried to be friends
again, but that it was not working. We also told him that his
friendship with the boy was real and true, and that it was okay
to hurt for a while. But then we reminded him that since he was
able to make such a deep friendship with one boy, he would be
able to make deep friendships with other children, too. And then
we did all we could to encourage those.
We still see the other boy on occasion. When they are allowed to
play together, they have a great time. And they also have heavy
hearts knowing it can't be simple.
Oh, it hurts when our children hurt. But it's part of parenting
to help them deal with the hurt and keep moving on.
a friend indeed
Do you always label friends based on their married status? It
struck me that you would point out that the other mom was a
single parent without any other reference to that. Do you have
issues with single parents? Have you possibly been insensitive
around that and not realized?
As far as your child's friendship with the other little girl I
would stress that you really don't know what happened... be
honest... and that you hope that they can play together again one
just a hunch...
My parents had a similar experience being in a new state. Eager
to make new friends they soon found a couple that they really
liked, became close with, and did many things together. After 1-
2 years of a great friendship something suddenly changed one
day and the other couple would not speak to my parents or
return phone calls or offer any explanation of what was wrong.
My parents, like you, were hurt by the sudden unexplained loss
of their new best friends and tried many times to reach out for
an explanation and even apologized via answer machine for
whatever they might have done to cause the rift- to no avail.
My parents finally accepted that the other couple wasn't being
very decent and whatever the issue was all about would never
get resolved if they refused to talk so they just moved on and
made new friends and put a sad close to that wierd chapter in
their lives. Years have now gone by without a clue.
Likely in your case the kids will eagerly hook back up in
school but you will have an awkward time with the mother at PTA
meetings and class functions unless you can get her to reveal
what she is upset about. My approach would be to walk right up
to her and confront her face to face and insist on an
explanation so that you can at least understand, apologize, or
explain. Tell her you miss her friendship. My parents should
have done that. I suspect when folks aren't willing to tell you
what they are angry about it's because they realize themselves
that it isn't justifiable so it is easier for them to give you
the silent treatment than to chew you out about it straight
Could it be that the other woman is having issues as a single
mom compaired to your married family and that her daughter
enjoys being in your environment with two parents more than her
own? Try to get to the bottom of it so you don't always wonder.
It could also be that your daughter made a comment that
offended the other woman. We have had that happen too. Kids
sometimes talk too much and repeat things they shouldn't or get
things badly mixed up so they come out wrong-any of those could
have caused the problem. Sometimes too, people do or say things
so wrong that the act is unforgiveable with nothing left to
say. Usually you know when that happens. Good luck sorting it
out for the best. Kids are resiliant and forgiving but it's you
parents I worry more about!
I am so sorry to hear that this has happened to you as a
family. I am so interested to see what others write in response
to your post. What is most unfortunate is that children cannot
always understand these things, can they? We have a similar
situation on our hands, and I can only imagine that your
daughter's friend is feeling much the same as your daughter is.
Wondering, questioning, feeling a huge void, as these
friendships are very unique and special. But I am seeing it as
a life lesson. Friendships do not always go as we hope or
expect and sometimes there is some disappointment involved. I
might tell your daughter some things in earnest so her hopes are
not trailing on and on for unmet playdates. But the girls can
and will be friends in school. The mom might be depressed,
finding hardships in being a single mom. Perhaps there was a
bit of jealously, maybe she was feeling like a bit of a third
wheel with you and your husband. There might be financial
concerns that are currently stressful to her, so she needs to
refocus. As a single parent I imagine it might be more
challenging to be able to vacation and just hang out as much as
you might like. Wouldn't it be nice if everyone could just
spell out their feelings in situations like this? I wish you
and your daughters well.
Sometimes life is hard
Our friends' 6-year-old daughter 'Jane' is driving us nuts. We
are trying to figure out if there is any way to minimize the
contact with their child while maintaining a friendship with the
parents. Has any BPN family been able to successfully pull this off?
Here are the specifics. We like the Mom, and the Dad is my
husband's best buddy here in town. My husband doesn't have many
friends here -- he works in another state half of the week. We
genuinely enjoy the couple time. Here is the problem...'Jane' is
a DRAMA/back-talker to the extreme and has been since I first met
her 2 years ago.
For instance, I took her to the park this past weekend with my
daughters (ages 3 &5). Over the course of 2 hours she came up to
me crying hysterically to report some grave injustice that had
been done to her on the playground. Each time, I told her that
she needed to address the situation with the perpetrator -- I
kept an eye on what was going on and knew that she was lying
re:/exaggerating her woes -- and that I couldn't help in the
situation. She cried hysterically over a 15-month-old
accidentally flicking sand her general direction (dug a shovel
too deep and while pulling it out of sand, some landed near the
6-year-old) that I told her to calm down and nothing had touched
Here is the deal...the Mom says that her daughter is 'sensitive.'
The Mom is also quick to defend her daughter without even trying
to figure out what happened. I think that Mom is supporting her
daughter's habit of getting attention/rewards for her drama fits.
She is very defensive about her daughter (she gets a lot of
negative feedback from the school and the Mom thinks that the
school is ganging up on her daughter, rather than accepting that
her daughter may have some difficult traits that need to be
softened...you get the picture).
Here is the thing...we really adore the husband and generally
enjoy the wife (in all matters not related to their child). We'd
like to stay friends with them. Has anyone successfully managed
to pretty much freeze out a child, while maintaining a friendship
with the parents?
As a side note...I work with children professionally and adore a
wide range of personality traits (pretty much all kids). This is
the first child that I've encountered that really repels me. She
isn't a bad kid, but her drama/attention needs are driving me crazy.
-like the parents...the kids is driving me crazy...
I wondered reading your post whether your friend's child might
have sensory integration issues that would leave her alarmed
about something that does not seem threatening to the rest of
us. Maybe her mom is right that she is more sensitive than
other kids and maybe it has a physiological basis. If your
friend's daughter seems uncoordinated on playground equipment
or as though her sense of balance and gravity aren't as well
developed as other kids' you might consider asking her parents
if they have thought of O.T., especially since you are on such
good terms with them. In other words, maybe you can be part of
the team that figures out what this child needs to be on an
hope this helps
I've worked with kids for years too, and I love the company of kids
sometimes I just meet one I don't like. My first impulse is often to
situation thinking I can discover what is wrong with the way the kid is
whatever, but I think the truth is that, just like adults, some of them
rub me the
I would give the parents (your friends) the benefit of the doubt (not
parenting -- or more properly, since I think judging comes sort of
put it aside in your mind) and just tell yourself that they have a
family member you
don't like, and try to accommodate that in whatever way you can. The
parallel for me is when an old friend gets a new partner that I don't
like. I try, out of
love and respect for my friend, to just accept the new person, even
though I often
end up spending less time with them just because my own tolerance for
partner is low. But I guess what I am saying is that I try to fight
against the impulse
to condemn my friend for picking someone *I don't like* (that's my
should they pick a partner I like). Give your friends the benefit of the
they are doing what they think is best as parents, that they have more
about that kid than you do, and that just not liking the kid is really
your burden and
not their problem. I really strongly resist the ways we, as a society,
want to judge
parents, feeling that we know what is ''right'' from the outside. If you
respect these people, and it sounds like you do, then I think you should
yourself to see them as loving parents who just do things differently
And allow yourself to vent about the kid when you aren't around the
My husband and I are friends with a couple we adore who have a
daughter who does not play well with our daughters. It's not
that we don't like their daughter, who is a smart but very
sensitive soul -- it's more an issue of compatibility. After
several get-togethers where the parents spent the entire visit
refereeing the constant issues with the kids, we started
suggesting kids-free date nights with the couple. We never
talked about the reason (although I think we all know!), but it's
worked out really well. We do occasionally see each other with
the kids in bigger groups, and we've been very careful not to be
critical of our friends' parenting or their child (having had
some bad experiences of being on the receiving end of this!)
Your friends are probably struggling with their daughter's
temperment more than you know, and the mom's defensiveness may
come from her picking up on your dislike of her kid (a very
unpleasant experience for any parent).
try a date night
your post reminded me of an article I read in babble called ''I
Love You, Hate Your Kid...
Freezing a child out? What does this look like to you? Where
will your children be when their child is ''frozen out''? If you
really can't stand this child, I think your only option is to
go the ''adult activity'' route - evening outings or guys only
and leaving all the children out, not just theirs. I do get
what you are saying, I do, I have a friend whose child gets to
decide who sits where at the table (at my house!), but you also
may have to consider whether they would like you and want to
continue having you as friends considering how you feel about
their child. How would you feel about someone who really liked
you and wanted to spend time with you, but couldn't stand your
children? Would you want to continue that friendship?
One of the wizdoms I have learned over the years is that our
children are basically products of what we tolerate. Your own
kids seem tolerable to you because the things you really can't
stand you don't stand. But the things you don't mind, they
develop and those things can drive others nuts (just depends on
your buttons-mine is whining and I can tell you my kids don't
whine, but they do talk back).
I have a friend I will call Eva. She is a smart woman who had
pretty bad parents. I've met her mom, not her dad.
Eva has a son ''Chris.'' Eva loves Chris; however, she is not a
good parent. Just a few examples: She leaves Chris with her 79
year old mother during the school breaks and Chris is in front
of the TV most of the time eating. Eva is moving in a week and
hasn't told Chris they are moving. Eva signs Chris up for
baseball, then takes him to practice only half of the time. Eva
does not talk to Chris about his likes and dislikes, and when my
son mentioned to Chris that he hopes he likes his new apartment,
Chris started crying, saying ''what new apartment?''
My question is, as a friend, how much do you try to change a
friend's parenting style? I do not want to turn into a nag
toward Eva, yet it is very hard to watch what a poor parent she
is and how it affects her son.
Oh, I forgot to mention. Ava is a single mother who makes over
$100,000 per year and can afford child care and takes several
fly-away vacations per year.
I have a similar friend. My daughter's best friend's mother.
She's a single mom by choice and everything seems to overwhelm
her. Her daughter has often said that she has no friends other
than my daughter and that her mother ''makes her play'' with the
her mother's friends.
I don't really know the answer because when I have tried to talk
to, cajole, etc. it hasn't worked. ''K'' seems to be aware of her
behavior and recently said to her daughter in front of me ''I
don't really follow through on much of what I promise.'' Her
daughter said you don't follow through on anything you promise.
Behavior still hasn't changed.
Waiting for the Responses
How much advice? none. She didn't ask, and from your posting, I don't
think she is a
bad parent, any more than I think you are a good parent. You are
different priorities and styles. Hers works for her, yours works for
you. That's the
great thing about parenting, you get to do it your way!!
Say nothing unless she specifically asks, and even if she does ask,
You are not the world's best parent either, in some people's eyes!
The 'Berkeley way' is not the 'only way' to raise a kid
I had to weigh in on this one, because I just received
some ''advice'' (i.e., lecturing) from a casual friend about my
parenting and I am still upset. She may have had a point, but
I am a grown-up and have to make my own choices. And so does
Eva. None of us is a perfect parent. Eva could probably point
out some things that you do as a parent that she thinks are
inappropriate (in the case of my friend, I think she exercises
WAY too much control and is creating a very timid kid, but
that's just my feeling). The boundary is if her parenting
starts to interfere with yours (that was the valid point my
friend made). Your rules should be respected at your house,
etc. But don't make yourself Eva's parenting coach unless she
explicitly asks for your advice.
The truth, none, will never be the same, if you don't care and if
she is moving far away go for it then, no chance to see her too
often, and like I said ...... your friendship will never ever be
I have a good friend of many years who has a child the same age
as mine. She and her husband are very child-centered to the
point that it's becoming difficult to socialize with them when
they are with her.
They practice a sort of ''diversion discipline,'' in that when
the girl misbehaves or is rude or disrputive they immediately
rush in to entertain her and distract her or cater to whatever
mood she has, but never say ''no'' or discipline her. So the
behavior just repeats itself over and over because the child
never learns boundaries and appropriateness. They say
she's ''just young, she'll grow out of it.'' In the meantime,
this child's self centeredness disrupts everyone around her,
including at adult/ family events.
On top of that, this girl is still nursing and she will be five
years old this summer. So now my daughter, who turned five last
fall, has started asking me when she sees them do it if she can
do this too. I have to tell her no in front of them without
saying what I would like to if we were alone, which is that I
think she is too old for this. She wants to know why she can't
since she isn't that much older than my friend's daughter.
I really like this couple (the adults) and would be thrilled to
just schedule ''adult'' playdates! But my friends daughter loves
to play with my girls, and my friend wants to make all our get-
togethers family time. (I think that's because her daughter has
almost no friends --- wonder why?)
I find that I'm distancing myself from them and it's painful,
but when we are all together I not only dislike the daughter
(although, to be honest, I also pity her for being raised to be
a self-absorbed brat) but I feel totally turned off watching
her parents turn cartwheels and stand on their heads instead of
just saying, ''No, you can't make everyone sing the same song
ten times just because that's what you want to hear'' etc.
It's also a terrible example for my girls. Should I just move
on and try to reconnect in 10 years??!!
Can't bite my tongue much longer
Well, it sounds like you disagree with her parenting style quite
a bit, to the point that it is making you crazy. So, perhaps you
want to ease yourself out of the equation. Your child, your
friends and their child all seem to get along just fine. Perhaps
you can arrange some 'playdates' just for the kids for a while.
You would be surprised how well behaved your friend's child will
be at your home without the influence of her parents.
Or, you can ease away as a family.
Also, you may just want to talk to your friend. Tell her that
you aren't enjoying the get-togethers as much as you used to and
tell her why (sugar coat it as much as possible while still
getting your point across). No one wants to be told that they
are a bad parent and are a loon for nursing their child at age 5.
I can understand why you don't want to be around your friend and
her child. However, I think it is cruel and thoughtless to stop
see her without letting her know why. I think it is especially
mean to remain silent if your perspective could help the child.
Please explain the problem and give her a chance to improve. I
know this is hard to do, but I think it is the ethical way to
I am in a similar position as your friends, so I thought my perspective
helpful. I don't think we cater to our daughter quite as much as your
friends do (I
hope not), but we have the tendency to placate our 4-year-old rather than
discipline, and we're working hard on learning how to discipline as it
naturally to us. Our friends of many years have a similar-aged boy and
they are on
the other end of discipline and structure. We've acknowledged this
difference in the
past, but recently they felt like our parenting style and our daughter's
really impinged on their enjoyment of our time together. My longtime
friend in the
couple confided this in me, and I was really grateful to him. He spoke to
respectfully and expressed how much our friendship means to him, and that
knows we can work through this. He even owned, when I asked, that he has
judgmental of our parenting (which I had perceived, so it was a relief to
get it out in
the open) and he said he'll work on that.
I don't know if your friends want to improve their discipline skills as we
do, or if you
have this depth of trust in your friendship, so they may not hear your
same way I did, but I think it might be worth a shot. It seems like your
important, so maybe this would be giving it respect. My friend framed it
''parenting differences'' and stressed the things he sees as my strengths,
discussion really felt good and mutually constructive.
Yeah. If your tongue is hurting after every visit with your
friend (from all the biting) then it is probably a good time to
part ways. Although it may be the personality the kid is born
with, sounds like your friends are facilitating the behavior that
drives you nuts. Sounds like you like your friends as adults,
but not as parents. So, unless you feel like speaking up in a
diplomatic yet clear way about your discomfort at the parenting
differences, it is best to stop seeing them for a while, or just
invite them to adult only events. Even is you do speak up, that
may end your relationship.
Another one who won't sing a song 10 times
We HAD the same friends and it just made me crazy. I really believe you
are doing a
huge disservice to your child to make them the center of the
what, no one else thinks that way. My children are so special but they
are no more
special than any other kid to their parents. I think if you raise a child
this way, you
are creating an obnoxious child you will never have friends, never listen
authority, so they will get fired from every job and no partner will ever
want to be
with someone so self absorbed. I think you doom a child to depression and
underachievement because ''no one understands how wonderful they are''.
Like it or
not but unless you own the company, you have a superior and sometimes you
suck it. Teaching a child they are so important does such damage to that
child...after all, our children are children for about 18 years and god
are adults till they are about 85, We need to prepare them for that, I
think that is
our responsibility. I've always thought, I chose to have these children,
it is my
responsibilty to not unlease assholes on to the planet. As for the breast
geez what the heck are people thing with that. Our friends also breatfeed
huge child till he was about 6. My thought is when are sexually active
and the first
thought that comes to mind is mommy and her boobs.....there has to be time
the shrink office about that. I was breast feed and I much say, I'm
really glad I don't
remember. We dumped our friends, whose child was thrown out of school for
behavior in the 2nd grade, BTW. You may get some responses the other side
that is my 2 cents. Run, run like the wind.
I have a friend who I absolutely adore. She is one of the best
people I know. Her son on the other hand is out of control,
disruptive and direspectful. My friend claims she disciplines
her kids, although I have never seen it. Mostly when we are
together and her son is acting out, she does nothing or lets
other parents do the scolding, saying, ''no don't do that'', etc.
Even though our kids get along ok, I can't stand being around
her kid and his continuous misbehavior. I don't want to tell
her how to raise her kid and I don't want to tell her how much I
hate being around her kid. It would hurt her feelings. I just
want to scream everytime we are around her children. Any advice
on how to handle this issue?
I have been in exactly your shoes, twice in fact. We met when our kids were in preschool,
then spent a few years apart when the kids went to different schools, and then hooked up
again last summer. I want to tell you up front that this was one of the hardest things I've
had to do, but we are no longer friends and even though I miss her friendship, I am greatly
relieved not to have her child in our life. I don't remember how old your kids are, but if
you are seeing behaviors now that make you cringe and you see her being either a) defensive
and making excuses or, b) just plain oblivious, then you are in for a rough road ahead. I
thought that after a few years apart, with the kids getting older and such that this
situation would be better. In fact, when we met up again last summer at camps and such, it
seemed her son had gotten better. Boy was I wrong. What he had learned to do was to be
sneaky and two-faced, showing the side he knew the adults wanted/needed to see when around
us and then doing whatever he pleased when left alone with our child. In fact, some of
things I found out were happening on playdates at his house were sending off all kinds of
alarm bells (cruelty to animals is never a good sign).
In the end, we ending up having a falling out over a very minor disagreement and I decided
to let the friendship go. If I were you, I would try to bring up your concerns with your
friend and see what happens. I think it's very important to try to deal with this stuff head
on if you can, because if you think it's bad now, just wait until the kids are older and the
If you lose the friendship over this, then I think you should consider yourself lucky Been
I have a friend like that too. We were friends for a long
time before we ever had kids, then we
had kids, and now our time together almost always includes the kids.
Not only do I disagree with how she fails to discipline the little
brat, but when we get together now, we cannot have an adult conversation
because she is constantly talking to the kid and he is constantly interrupting.
He is usually fine when she isn't around, but when she is, it's a
It drives me crazy and I really hate getting together. But I love my
friend and don't want to lose the friendship. I know that
if I ever say something about the brattiness, it would
damage our friendship. Here's what I'm doing:
1) Wait it out. It will get better as the kid gets older and
once they start school, the kinds of behaviors that are tolerated by
the neglectful mom will not be tolerated by teachers and other kids.
Things got MUCH better for us after the kids started kindergarten.
2) In the meantime,
minimize your time together with the kids in troublesome
situations. It's most painful when we are at their house or
our house. If we are in a more diverting setting,
like a park or the beach, the kid finds things to do besides
annoying the grownups. Also, we sometimes
share a babysitter and go out without the kids.
Or, we trade off babysitting so we take care of their brat while
they go out. So I still get to see my friend.
becomes less bratty with every year that passes. There is hope!
I work with children who have disabilities and therefore have a passing familiarity (not
expertise) with several genetic syndromes that can lead to problems with typical
development. A friend of mine has a beautiful daughter who has several strong
physical traits of a genetic syndrome that is associated with deafness, cognitive deficits
and learning disabilities. However, this little girl seems fine and I have never said
anything to her mother. My question is, should I mention these things to my friend, so
that she can keep her eye out for possible problems in the future and/or get her tested
or should I continue to say nothing?
If you were my friend and it was my child that you had concerns
about, I would want to be told. I would want to be told very
gently, and with emphasis on the positive, i.e. that the child
seems to be fine but that you thought I should know so that I
could have my child tested, just to be sure.
I don't know if that helps -- good luck!
Yes! Absolutely yes!
I recommend not saying anything unless/until the child's mother expresses some
concern to you. I'm a clinical child psychologist who has a fair amount of experience
with assessment of infants/preschoolers and it seems likely that this child is just
''funny looking'' and does not have any worrisome genetic syndrome. If this child is
developing normally (you say she is ''fine''), then there is no need to worry the mother.
That being said, if the child does begin to display behaviors that concern you, you
might ask the mother if she has noticed the same things and ask if she is concerned.
If so, then you might suggest an evaluation. But as long as the child is developing
normally, don't alarm the mother.
As well intentioned as you may feel, I would NOT tell your
friend that her daughter could have a syndrome. You didn't
mention the girl's age, but she is not showing signs of
deafness or delays, so why point out her physical differences?
If delays/deafness show up, and your friend asks you about it,
you could urge her to talk to her pediatrician about
it. ''Sometimes a pediatrician may refer you to a geneticist''
would be a good response.
If you are correct about the syndrome, you really don't want to
be at the receiving end of ''shooting the messenger'' - leave
that to the trained geneticists and genetic counselors and
maintain your role as supportive friend. And if you are wrong,
well, she may never forgive you for that.
my 2 cents
I am a single Mom to a seven year old girl. One of my closest
friends is also a single Mom, to a six year old girl. Our kids
go to school together, though in different grades, and we've all
been friends for a couple of years. Though I love my friend,
her daughter makes me crazy. And more importantly, my well
behaved daughter becomes almost unrecognizable when she is
around this girl for any length of time. It's gotten to the
point where I'm making up excuses about why they can't come over
for dinner or to play after school, though I see my friend
almost daily for coffee or a walk, without the kids.
Since consciously keeping the kids apart from each other, my
daughter went from having emotional melt-downs/tantrums 3-4
times a week to not having had any in the last month. Then she
had a tantrum last week, immediately after coming home from
playing at their house. I can't tell you what it is exactly in
the other childs behavior that induces this reaction in my
daughter, but I do know that this girl does not listen to adults
or other authority figures (including teachers) very well, and
this is one of the behaviors that my daughter ends up mimicking.
My daughter will tell me that this other girl won't leave her
alone, doesn't listen to her requests for space or quiet, and is
very bossy. I've observed these behaviors when they have both
been in my care, so I'm not just taking the word of a seven year
How do I talk to my friend about this? I'm not interested in
blaming or attacking anyone, but I would like to be able to
spend time all together. It's becoming awkward to keep dodging
invitations and requests to spend time together. Any thoughts
on how to do this without ruining our friendship?
Why not tell her, in the last 5-10 minutes of an outing (preferably on a
Friday if you have coffee M-F)? Explain how your daughter comes home and
has meltdowns/behavior issues after they play, so you are scaling back.
She should also know that your daughter doesn't feel respected. Who'd
want a friend that dominated constantly?
Being a good friend to this woman means being as honest as possible in a
non-destructive way, rather than her wondering what she did wrong to
make you dislike her. Perhaps she has no clue these problems exist, and
now she will figure out what to do about them. I know, I know, there's a
fine line. So you make it non-accusatory or judgmental, and all about
you and your daughter. Your friend might get defensive or pissed at you
for awhile. You have to accept this as one possibility.
Me personally? I'd much rather know the truth, than have my friends hope
I'll figure things out by osmosis. I lost dear friends (couple), and
only found out after the fact why. They had been trying to send me
subtle signals for a long time but I never even noticed. If only they
had been honest ongoing, I would have had my nose bent out of shape, but
then I would have worked on the problem.
I believe your daughter should not have to spend time with a child whose
company she doesn't enjoy. Especially if the child seems to be
affecting her in negative ways. You can tell the parent the kids
''aren't compatible'' or ''have different play styles'' or whatever
diplomatic wording you can come up with. If she asks for more of an
explanation you can describe what you've observed & what your daughter
has reported. You can find ways to be friends with the Mom even if your
kids don't hang out together.
I have been in a similar situation. It sounds like you have a good
perspective on it. I have not choosen to discuss the issue with my
friend, the other parent. I could not see any positive outcome from that
discussion - I would trade the guilt of not being positively responsive
to their invitations with the guilt of knowing that I had critised
another parent for something they are probably aware of and trying to
deal with. It is not worth it to ''be nice'' and ignore it just for the
ease of all being together. Yeah it would be great if your kids got
along, but right now they do not. Given the situation, your kid is the
one that suffers. Give your friend's kid some time, their issues may
smooth out with a year or two and it could be that later she is a great
kid with a great mom that you wish your kid would want to hang out with.
Try to leave enough grace to allow for that to be in the future.
I had a similar situation. Children are calmer when they around friends
and family whose boundaries are clear. They get out of sorts otherwise
as in your situation. Have you talked to your daughter about the
situation? Did you tell her what you noticed about how she reacts after
time spent with this family? It is a worthy conversation so she is
aware of the dynamics.
So many of us live in obligation mode. I have slowly eliminated friends
whose energies, parenting style, etc. didn't work for me or my kids and
I feel alot saner for it. It is okay to be selective for your daughter
because it sends the message of the importance of self-care, boundaries,
being with people who listen.
I subtly discourage my girls from hanging out with kids like this too
often and they usually gravitiate towards kids with similar boundaries,
etc. It also teaches them how to choose friends now and in their future.
I'll give you advice from the mom of a child who seems to insight such
behavior. First of all, unless your friend is completely clueless (or
just feels there is no problem with her child's behavior), she knows
that her child is an instigator in the ''crazy'' behavior and doesn't
need to be told so. I know in my case, I absolutely understand that my
son is high energy and high need (full of p*ss and vinegar, as my
grandma used to say). I am very careful to monitor him with his friends
and ''divide and conquer'' as necessary when things start spinning out
of control. That said, I think the only thing you can do is stay strong
with your values and rules with your own child. I would say nothing to
your friend. I have noticed some friends who have offered and accepted
fewer playdates with my son (and I assume they are for the very reasons
you mention), but it would definitely hurt my feelings and make me feel
even more frustrated with my child if they told me why.
It's already difficult enough to deal with such a high need child.
Support, friendship and patience for your friend and her child help make
it a little easier. When your daughter is a bit older and more able to
control her own behavior (and hopefully the same for her friend), you
can increase the playdates with no harm done. I've noticed a difference
over time, in my case (my son is now 5 - and it's getting better all the
time). Best of luck to you!
My child drives other kids crazy!
this page was last updated: Nov 14, 2008
The opinions and statements expressed on this website
are those of parents who subscribe to the
Berkeley Parents Network.
Disclaimer & Usage for
information about using content on this website.
Copyright © 1996-2014 Berkeley Parents Network