Friends & Hurt Feelings
Berkeley Parents Network >
Parenting, Families, & the Community >
Friends & Hurt Feelings
I have a very close friend of mine (of a group of close college
friends); we've been friends for 20 years... She has a 5 yr old
girl and 2.5 year old son. I have a 1 year old son. Since
becoming a Mom, I naively assumed that our friendship would
become closer, but I find that I feel hurt and angry with her
because she has a tendency to label my son as ''difficult'' and
''aggressive'', ''loud'' - ''not one who will get picked on'' when
we're together and in front of our kids. She tells our other
friends (of the college clan) these comments too about my son. I
feel that I have been very supportive of her and her children and
try very hard not to make comments about her children that are
not positive. Her children are not perfect either. The only
thing that I can figure is that she is a burned out stay at home
mom. Her son tends to be quiet and passive, so I'm not sure if
she is ''projecting''. Anyway, the bottomline is that I'm
wondering how I tell her gently (or do I? Or do I seek out more
supportive, new friends too?) that I don't like her making
not-so-positive comments about my son. He's only 1 year old too!
Honestly? I'd ask her what to do -- ask her how she thinks you should respond when
she says things that are less than helpful - ask her how you can be more supportive of
her, too... tell her you hope to build a new friendship for this new part of your lives,
while maintaining the old friendship you value...
Yes, you need to make additional friends now, but don't dismiss this old friend without
doing everything you can. It will take you YEARS to make a new old friend...
Homesick for old buddies...
oh, have i been there and dealt with that!!!! only it wasn't a
friend, it was my parents. they were continuously telling me
that there was something wrong with my son. he cried a lot
when he was a baby, had colic, wouldn't sleep, would only
nurse, blah, blah. i never had a problem w/ it until the
criticism started to occur in front of my children.
eventually, as i did, you will have to confront your ''friend.''
i gently told them, that as they well knew, i was his mom. and
even though i acknowleged he could be spirited (never used
difficult or whatever), it was my place to help him through
whatever issue it was. and i clearly pointed out that while i
appreciated the fact that they were expressing concern, doing
it in front of my son (and daughter) was extremely hurtful,
confusing and detrimental. i explained to them further that if
they couldn't curb their criticism, then i would curb my
visits. your friend has issues. clearly they aren't your or
your sons. the best thing you can do is to gently express to
her your desire that she cease and desist (sp?) and that while
you enjoy spending time with her, her criticism is hurtful to
both you and your child. ask her how her life is going and
turn the tables. might go for an interesting conversation.
one thing i have learned in raising 3 children is that friends
you had before kids aren't necessarily the ones you'll have
while raising your own. good luck and do what you need to do
to keep your child's psyche in tact- they take it all in. no
need for it to start at this age!
I think you should let your friend know that it hurts your
feelings (don't try to say it hurts your son's feelings) while
at the same time trying not to take it personally and definitely
don't lose such a longtime friend over this. I think you might be
a little more sensitive to the terms ''difficult'' ''loud'' and
''aggressive'' than she is since your child is younger and cuter
and the apple of your eye. It's not that your friend is totally
burned out but that over the course of preschool reports, books
about temperament and stuff like that, she probably doesn't think
they are that negative. Especially with what she said about ''he
won't get pushed around'' she probably thinks he's a strong little
guy while being not so secretly pleased that she got mellower
kids. I am a parent with a mellow kid and our best friends have a
really rowdy one. I would never describe their child the way your
friend did but they describe her that way themselves. So there
are people out there that don't think those are such bad things
to say. But if she is such a close friend, just tell her that you
don't like her talking that way.
I think you need to tell her.
If she really is a worthwhile friend, you want to deepen the
friendship and she'll understand.
It is funny how even though when one becomes a parent, one
suddenly ''gets'' what other parents go through, but alas, as the
parent of a truly ''spirited'' child, I do get a lot of
misunderstanding and prejudice regarding my child and my
parenting skills from parents of ''easy'' children.
You need to use a lot of ''I'' statements - ''I feel hurt'' ''I value
our friendship'' ''I appreciate your insight, but feel this is
labelling, and not helpful advice''- not ''YOU do this or that''.
Writing a letter can be tricky, since it's hard to get the tone
right. In person is best.
She may not even be aware of what she's doing -she may see it as
merely commenting on what she sees - as innocuous as ''I see he's
Been There Too
Yes, tell her. Say: ''_____,I wish you wouldn't say negative
things about my son. It makes me uncomfortable.'' A real friend
can handle that.
There is no way for your friend to know how she is upsetting you
if you don't tell her. You need to tell her something along the
lines of ''I'm sure you didn't intend this, but I feel hurt when
you words like XYZ to describe my son. As a mother I'm sure you
understand that I love him exactly the way he is and feel
defensive when it seems like he is being criticized!'' Give her a
chance and see if you can work through this together, in honor of
your long-standing friendship. Good luck!
I'm sorry your friend is making you sad. She probably IS a
burned out mom. But she's also probably right-at least
somewhat. As she's seen over and over again through the years
of raising her kids, there is a tendency for parents
(especially first time parents) to not see how difficult or
misbehaved their kids are.
Without getting angry, sit back and think for a long time...is
your son a bully? Is he difficult? Agressive? Do you make
excuses for his agressivness (He's tired, hungry, not ready to
share yet, we're working on that....) I know he's young, but
being young is no excuse for being a aggressive or needlessly
loud. She has 3 kids, she knows what is normal kid behavior-
perhaps your son's is not. And this is the only, tactless as it
may be, way to tell you that.
Really sit down and think about what she's trying to tell you.
She may be doing you a favor by showing you that you need to
set some more boundries, rules, and be consistent in enforcing
them. No one likes an aggressive child. And you shouldn't make
excuses for them.
If you really think about this and you honestly don't feel your
child is agressive or loud or difficult or a bully, then talk
to your friend. Say ''Why do you say that about my son? I've
thought about it a lot and I can't see his behavior like that.
Have you been observing things I don't see?'' and see where that
On the same note, I have a friend who has a daughter that is
aggressive. Almost every time my daughter goes over there, she
gets hurt-mentally or physically. I've tried talking with my
friend about it and she says that her daughter is just ''high
spirited.'' It's very hard on us and now my friend is hurt that
we don't really go to her house anymore. But who wants to be
around a kid that is mean to their child? Perhaps that is what
she is trying to tell you.
My oh my, when will the labeling end. My brother and I became parents in 2001. By
the time our kids were a year old, his daughter was labelled the light and happy
one, and my son was labelled the difficult one. I finally realized that it was because I
was complaining about motherhood (which I did full time) whereas my brother (who
had a stay-at-home wife AND a nanny) had only happy things to report. I kept
asking them to stop labelling, that both of the children were real people with
moments of ease and moments of struggle, but I was spitting in the wind.
Finally, when my brother's second child was born, my mother went to take care of
the first, that mythically easy child, and boy did my niece give Grandma a run for
her money! She was nothing but trouble the whole time, bless her heart! After that,
my parents took a more balanced view of their grandchildren and dropped the
In your situation, you could say something like, ''He's only a year old.'' Or you could
give it time. Something might happen to wake her up and soften her mind. So long
as she doesn't say these things in front of your son, I'd say it's safe to wait and see.
But don't torture yourself. You don't have to be around her if she isn't what you
need right now. Things may be different down the road.
Three choices stand out: 1) assume your friend is right and get
some parenting classes; 2) continue to let your friend make you
feel bad; 3) get rid of her as a friend.
For what it's worth, we had friends with two sons who became
parents and sudden experts on child-rearing (one is a doctor, one
a nurse, so their expertise was underscored by their
professions). From the way we sleep-trained our kid, to our
synagogue choice, to the preschool we chose (oh, and don't call
it daycare), they always had the superior way to do things. One
day my husband and I looked at each other and decided that they
were not people who made us feel good and we bagged the
friendship and haven't looked back. Oh... and amazingly, our
current friends think we're doing just fine.
- in control
First off, I genuinely don't think that your friend should be
saying anything about your child (or her children for that
matter) in front of him that isn't positive. Your child can hear
you/her. He may not be speaking much yet, but one-year-olds
(especially those one-year-olds that are closer to being
two-year-olds) can understand you (he can follow simple
directions, right? That means that he understands). You can
remind her of that with a simple, 'Please watch what you say, our
children hear what you say and understand you.' It also doesn't
hurt to remind her that a lot of energy isn't bad, but different
than what she has experienced with her own children.
That said, do you think your child hits, pushes or whatever, more
than other kids? Then you really do need to do something about
it. Instead of nipping 'naughty' behavior in the bud when my
children first started it (15 and 22 months respectively), I
chalked it up to spirited behavior, a 'phase,' etc. It is a lot
harder to work on later. I wished a good friend had told me that
hitting/pushing may be a phase, but it is one that I really
needed to deal with...
I found those early child-rearing days some of the most difficult
on friendships. I was more sensitive than ever and sometimes
didn't find friends' parenting styles compatible with mine (ie. I
had a fairly disciplined home and didn't like households where
the kids were wild). But now that my kids are teenagers, I'm glad
that I was able to keep those old friendships going.
My daughter (now 17) was quiet, compliant, and obedient. I
patted myself on the back when she was young, thinking what a
great job of parenting I was doing. Then I had my son (who is
now 15), who was loud and aggressive, "all boy" ---a spirited
child. I have learned over the years that my kids' best traits
are also sometimes their most worrisome traits. While I love my
daughter's sweetness, her easiness to be around, I have also
worried from time to time that she was too reserved or eager to
please. Same with my son-- some of those traits that have been
the most difficult have also turned out to be his best
qualities, his zest for life, his strong personality and
aggressiveness. He does not fly under the radar, ever. He is a
natural leader and an incredible, gifted athlete.
I know that sometimes parents of quiet, obedient kids can be
judgmental towards more boisterous, aggressive kids (having been
on both sides!). Quiet, obedient kids are definitely easier to
raise. Perhaps she is somewhat harsh in her assessment of your
son from time to time, but you also seemed overly sensitive , as
her comments about him didn't seem negative to me. An obedient,
quiet toddler may seem like the ideal child, but many of the most
interesting kids/ teens/adults I know are anything but quiet and
obedient, they're lively and full of life. So be ready to dish
out a lot of discipline, as an aggressive, boisterous child needs
it - but also celebrate his strong spirit.
I've got a friend whose company I really enjoy. What I don't
enjoy is that sometimes, when we make plans, she shows up with
another friend without letting me know. It's a different friend
every time, and it's never anybody I know. For example, last
week I was set to meet with her for a shopping excursion. She
showed up 20 minutes late accompanied by a woman I didn't know --
they had just been out together and I guess she invited her
come along. The new friend wasn't even particularly friendly,
and she seemed surprised that I was there -- I felt like I was
butting in or something. I find this irritating, but my husband
says this is just something people do on the East Coast (where
he and she are both from). And if I have a legit complaint, how
do I tell my friend this irritates me without sounding petty and
insecure? Does anybody have any clever, witty suggestions where
I could get my point across quickly? I'd rather do that than
some from-the-heart, dramatic conversation about my feelings.
--wondering if I'm oversensitive
I am from the East Coast and I have never done this and I don't think
you're overreacting. When I have a date with a friend, I always assume
it is with that friend only, and if I feel I need to bring someone else,
I always call and ask the friend first.
But I rarely even ask. I disagree with your husband; I think it's just
plain rude to do what your friend does. Maybe you could state your
feelings in a nonjudgmental way, nonblaming way. When this happened
with another friend of mine, I just said, ''You know, when I make plans
with you, I expect it to be just you and me unless you call and let me
know that someone else is coming with us. Do you think you could let me
know if it's going to be more than just us?'' My friend was surprised
-- and maybe miffed -- but she never did it again without calling first.
And I wasn't insecure or petty. It's not necessarily about the extra
person. I mean, what if you had plans to have dinner with someone and
when you arrived at the restaurant, they told you they'd already eaten
and wanted to do something else?
I don't think there's anything wrong with asking at a minimum that you
just be given some notice that your plans are changing. My free time is
very limited and I choose how I spend it pretty carefully. When I see
my friends, I want to be able to catch up with them, tell them about my
life and find out about theirs. I can't do this with someone I don't
know or don't like there. Good luck with this. It's always hard having
these kinds of conversations with friends Anon
Here are my two cents. If your friend is worth spending time with (I
assume you have kids and busy life and not a lot of time for socializing
without kids), she's worth having a ''from-the-heart''
conversation with, as you put it. If you don't want to have that
conversation with her, why are you spending time with her? I don't mean
that you have to corner her for 2 hours and give her your whole
emotional history, but why not tell her how it makes you feel and/or ask
her about the assumptions she's been operating under? It's really good
practice, speaking as someone who's been practicing lately. By the way,
I'm from the east coast and I don't think this is an east coast/west
coast thing. And if one of my friends did this repeatedly, I also would
be hurt and want to talk about it anon
Sorry, my vote is that you are too sensitive. Some adults are simply
more comfortable socializing with a crowd, or with meeting strangers -
your friend may be this way and assumes you are too.
Exclusive relationships where friends aren't welcoming to others are
very limiting for some people, for others, that's all they want.
Strangely enough in my experience as a 'social' it's usually the
exclusives who 'pick' a social and then expect them to become the
exclusives sole entertainment. Can get very tiring to be limited to
'just one friend.' Or... maybe I'm just from the East Coast
I already posted but I was thinking more about how to approach your
friend. I would suggest trying to put yourself in her shoes
-- is she really overloaded at home and work, so when she gets a little
time to herself she wants to share it with more than one friend? Is she
by nature a really social person? Is she trying to introduce her friends
to each other because she thinks the more the merrier? Trying to look at
it from her persepctive can help you to approach her in a nonjudgemental
and non-blaming way. But I really would suggest that you go ahead and
talk with her. I've recently done this with 2 friends about different
issues, and both times I've been glad I spoke up anon
Well, I am from the east coast and I have never heard of this being
common or acceptable. I think it's inconsiderate, if not outright rude.
If this was my friend I would probably stop getting together with her.
Maybe this is OK when you're a teenager and everyone is just hanging out
with whomever is available at the moment. But for me as a grownup, with
kids and a job, having time with friends takes advanced planning. When I
plan a date with a friend, I am expecting to have time with the friend,
to talk one on one, or just hang together and have fun.
If the friend brings along other friends or family, then everything is
different, and it becomes a group activity instead of a get-together
with my friend that I don't see as much as I'd like. I enjoy group
activities too, but not when I'm expecting to have a one-on-one with my
friend. You friend doesn't seem to get that there's a difference
between friend time and group time.
Maybe it's time to start developing relationships with people who do get
Similar problem: Have you ever invited friends to your house for dinner,
and they show up with an extra friend? Or they just fail to show? You
planned a special dinner for 6, and you made 6 of everything, and now
you've got 7 (or only 4?)? My husband has two friends who do this. We
still include them for group events like a potluck, but we don't invite
them for dinner anymore.
I don't think you are over reacting at all. I have had friends that did
the same thing. They were also from NY, but thats not why they acted
that way. I lived there ten years and it is not socialy acceptable to be
late and double book social dates there either. In the end I realized
that these friends were just incredibly self centered and insensitive,
and they just weren't that into our friendship so I decided to stop
torturing myself and stopped making plans with them. I also had to face
my own insecurities and the fact that I had a pattern of choosing
friends that treated me badly. I have been much happier ever since I
changed my own behavior, and stopped hanging out with people who treated
me like a door mat anon
You're not over-reacting if you are looking forward to some quality time
with your friend. The next time you make plans, I'd just say- I'd
really love to catch up one on one so let's make this date just the two
of us, ok? I don't think it's necessarily an east coast thing.
YES, you are overreacting. OR, just stop being friends. it's this
are you being too sensitive? or is your friend being rude? I have given
up many friends because i thought they were rude or insensitive. Don't
sell yoour self short with a bad friend. Having just a couple good ones
is better then a lot of bad ones. Take care anon
I don't think it is an ''east coast'' thing to bring other friends
unannounced. I'm from the east coast (New Yorker) and it's not common to
always bring other friends to rendevous unless they are friends in
common or it is previously planned. I think it is okay to do it once in
a while but all the time is a bit strange. I would talk to her about it
especially if the other friends she brings along is not particularly
friendly. It seems like she is putting both you and the other friend in
an awkward position
2 cents from an Ex-East Coaster
No, I do not think you're overreacting. Believe it or not, I had the
same problem with a friend many years ago. Every time we had plans, it
turned into a group outing.
Once when I hadn't seen her in a while, we planned to go out to dinner
and shopping after work to get caught up on each other's lives. Well,
she invited 3 other friends I didn't know well, and they all were
shopping for one of the women's honeymoon--and obssessing over a wedding
I wasn't even invited to! I totally felt like the odd person out and was
miserable...and I was the one who had initiated the plans!
I just let the friendship slide after that and I wish I hadn't, at
least not without saying anything. I regret not calling her and saying,
''It was nice to see you and your friends, but it wasn't what I had in
mind. Let's plan to get together when it is just the two of us. I miss
getting to talk to you.'' If she still pulled the group maneuver, then
I'd know she didn't care about my feelings or was too clueless to be my
I would let your friend know next time you make plans. Just ask if she's
bringing anyone this time. And tell her you don't mind meeting her
friends, but that you'd like a little one-on-one time with her too anon
Your husband told you that your friend bringing along an unannounced,
uninvited guest on your excursions is ''just something people do on the
East Coast'' ?? !!!!
I'm from the East coast -- and also have lived in the South and Midwest
-- and that is not the norm * anywhere *. It is, however, kinda rude.
The times my friends wanted to add someone to the ''date,'' or I wanted
to at the last minute, it was always polite to call ahead and say, ''Is
it OK if I bring a friend along?''
You are not being petty and insecure. When you're planning the next get
together, just tell her calmly that you have been surprised when she
added unexpected people to the party; that you like to meet new people,
or meet her friends, but you had been looking forward to time with just
the two of you.
You could laugh it off, explaining, ''I guess I'm just not as
spontaneous as you'' or, ''I would have had a chance to put on my more
expensive jeans if I'd known,'' or whatever.
It sounds as though she likes this freewheeling style of hers and
doesn't give the other friends a heads-up either. She may not know that
this is bothersome. She should at least try to see where you are coming
from and be a little more accomodating Polite ex-East Coaster
I can't tell you if you're overreacting or not, as I also think that
behavior is rude, but I think I tend to expect a lot from people. I CAN
tell you that this is NOT an East Coast thing, as I am from the East
Coast and this never happened to me there!
This has happened to me quite a lot since becoming a parent,but only
with people who I don't know well. The scenario is this:
one of us asks the other (I'm not always the initiator) to meet
somewhere with the kids so that we can get to know each other better.
When the other person arrives, they bring another parent (and their
child), and I spend the whole outing feeling like an extra wheel! The
last time it happened, a Mom from my child's school, who I'd been trying
to get together with for weeks, called me to meet her somewhere. When
she showed up (an hour late), she had 5 other close friends (and their
kids) with her, and they spent the whole day talking about the party
this Mom had the night before (that I was obviously not invited to).
This was right around the holidays, when I already feel lonely, so it
left me very depressed for awhile.
I don't know why people do this,but I have a theory. Spending one-on-one
time with someone is an intimate thing, where attention is focused on
you, and you are expected to focus on the other person. I think that
some people just feel uncomfortable with this, especially if they don't
know someone too well. I do believe, however, that it is common
courtesey to ask the person you're going to meet if they mind you
bringing another person along. This way, you're both on the same page.
As laid back as I'd like to be, sometimes I just want one-on- one time
with a friend, and it's not okay for her to bring an unexpected guest.
One thing I have learned is to be clear about what kind of get- together
I'm thinking of when talking with the other person.
With my close friends, it's natural to spend one-on-one time.
With new acquaintances, I'm more clear about invites (''Let's let the
kids play while we talk'' or ''I'm going to invite a bunch of people to
the movies, want to go?''). If your friend cannot honor your wishes, you
might be better off skipping get- togethers for awile been there
I hate it when that happens, too. It's almost as if you feel like you
weren't good enough for your friend - they had to bring along someone
else, too. It seems rude to me. But I really think that the people who
do this do not mean to be rude or see any problem with it. So maybe you
need to let your friend know that you are not comfortable with it. Maybe
saying something like 'I was disappointed because I thought it would
just be the two of us (going to brunch, going to the movie,
etc..) I don't think it sounds too petty or anything. Good luck!
I do not think you are overreacting at all. I think you can address it
without being either too witty/flippant or too vulnerable. What about
just saying that you'd prefer to know ahead of time what the plan will
be as sometimes you're open to a group thing and sometimes not? This
could clue her into the fact that she's essentially making plans for you
without your consent Anon
I don't think your are overreacting. Maybe you think too highly of the
friendship. Your friend doesn't seem to think too much of your
feelings. She could at least let you know when she's bringing another
friend along and give you the option of bowing out. I have had the same
situation happen and decided not to pursue the friendship any further.
My friend is a really nice person but her open invitation style just
You could do what my first grader did when one of his friends brought
another friend along on a playdate. At the end, he told him "I like
you, but I don't like your friend." A little blunt, but it got the job
I was not able to read the original post but let me tell you a story
that happened to me. I was the person who always invited other people
to events. Not because I thought I was rude but because I wanted
everyone to be happy and may be become friends
with each other too. Here is my story that helped me change
One New Year's Eve I was invited to a party in a very affluent
neighborhood. I, of course, invited a couple of my friends to come with
me. Well, unbeknownst to me, one of my friends invited her mother to
come along to the party also. The mother flirted with the married DJ
all night long who was half her age and gave him her business card! She
also went around all night telling people about her website selling plus
(I had no idea she had this type of a business) I found out that she
informed the hostess that she needed plus size lingerie for her figure.
The girl was so upset (she didn't think she was overweight) that she
went on a crash diet and had to be hospitalized and later she went into
a deep depression.
( Did I say it was a really ritzy party?!!) I'm not kidding, This really
happened and I'm still horrified to this day.
Needless to say, I have learned my lesson. I never, EVER, invite other
friends to come along with me anywhere regardless of the situation. If
someone invites me to coffee, lunch, or a party I assume they just want
me to come and not my posse. I wish you luck but realize that, like me,
your friend might learn her lesson the hard way anon
Oh honey, I'm so sorry.
Although I am probably not the friend you are specifically writing
about, I often do the same things that your friend does.
I don't do these things to be cruel, inconsiderate, or mean. In fact, I
generally intend the opposite & bring people along for the following
(a) I adore all of my friends so much that I want them to know each
other & assume that they will find each other as fascinating as I do;
(b) I'm horribly disorganized & over-committed & often inadvertently
double-book my calendar. But I always try to make time for friends
because I love them & want to spend time with them. Your friend probably
knows you find your time with her to be unsatisfactory but doesn't know
why. Some talk & compromise would help a lot.
(c) I come from back East & my old friends & relatives often come to
visit randomly & with short notice. When that happens, I often choose to
bring my friends along for the ride. From now on, I will remember that
this is not congenial for everyone, and will attempt to act accordingly.
(d) Sometimes -- only once in a blue moon -- I try to establish
boundaries on a friendship & will hence only include certain people in
group activities. But I only do this when someone I really like is
involved in self-destructive stuff that is beyond what I can handle, &
yet I have enough hope & love for them that I want to keep them in my
circle. This doesn't sound like you at all.
Please talk with your friend. If she loves you as much as you love her,
I'm sure she will explain her reasons & make every effort to accommodate
you. You also may need to accommodate her. Another Social Butterfly
this page was last updated: Nov 13, 2008
BPN is now a 501(c)(3) non-profit and we are building a new website!
Read more, and see how you can help:
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 © 1996-2015 Berkeley Parents Network