Friends & Their Kids

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  • I have a friend who has a son close in age to my boy though they attend different elementary schools.  I like chatting with my friend (we are not super close, but friendly since we met in a mother's group) while the boys play and have been trying to do those playdates once a week.  This worked great in early preschool, but now that the boys are in elementary school my son no longer wants to do those playdates.  He does not like playing with this boy and says it is boring and is like playing with a younger sibling (which he has one as well) since he always has to play what the other boy wants otherwise the other boy has a meltdown and nobody has fun.  My son says it feels like work and is not fun and he would rather do playdates with another friend or just play with his younger sibling (my kids are very close and play together a lot) or by himself.  I know those playdates are getting less and less fun for him and normally I would never force him to have a playdate with someone he does not want to play with just so I can chat with my friend, but she is asking for more playdates since her son considers my son "his best friend" and loves those playdates.  Normally it would not matter, but her boy is on the spectrum (not sure of the exact diagnosis, but I know he has difficult time socially) and has a hard time making friends.  She tried playdates with other kids and they all ended in disaster and she says that the playdates with my son are the only ones that consistently go well (or relatively well) ... the problem is that they go well cause my son "puts on his big brother hat" (like he practiced doing with his younger sibling) and lets the other boy has his way and slows down his game so the other boy can keep up.  This was not as a much of an issue when the boys were 3, but at 6 the boys are in different places developmentally and play differently and I get more and more push back from my son to stop doing the playdates.  For now I started doing them less frequently, more like once every 2-3 weeks instead of weekly, which worked well with school starting again and us getting busier but my friend says her son misses my and what can she do to have more playdates (she offered to pick up my son from school after care earlier and watch them at her place while they play until I get back from work since she is a SAHM but my son said no).  I did not tell her that my son does not enjoy those playdates and that I have been forcing him to do them for a while now, and I don't know if I should tell her that or just keep making excuses to keep the playdates less frequent.  And the bigger question is should I even continue forcing my son to have those playdates for the benefit of my friend's kid or just be honest with her and let my son choose his own playdate friends now that he is getting older?  I feel really bad for her and was trying to help but now I'm feeling guilty sacrificing my son's happiness and time (as between school and activities he does not have a lot of free time now).  Anyone been in this or similar situation and what did you do?

    Very tough spot. I would say be honest but VERY GENTLE with your friend. Something along the lines of, "the boys seem to be growing apart... and we're so busy that it works well for us to have you over at our house once in a while. I will let you know the next good time." And shoot for once a month. Maybe it is in fact good for your son to interact with kids who are in different developmental places - he can work on his empathy and polish those big brother skills. And maybe the three kids (including the younger sibling) can all play a bit - perhaps centered on a game like one of the Peaceable Kingdom cooperative games which don't pit the players against each other, or some lowkey screen time (like PBS Kids games, or learn-to-code). If you value your friendship with the mom at all, you should not cut them off. She needs your help too. I would not worry that a 2 hour playdate once a month is "sacrificing your son's happiness"!

    Wow.  This is a tough one.  When I was growing up my mom was always a champion of the underdog.  I admired it then and still do now, but sometimes it put me in a very awkward position.  She would plan play dates for me to help out lonely kids.  I think the scenario in her mind was that these were just shy kids who needed a little boost.  In reality, some of the kids were struggling with some pretty big issues.  I didn't have much experience (being just a kid), but suddenly I'd have this new "best friend" stuck to me like glue and sometimes their behavior was baffling.  I'd feel proud for helping and being kind yet I didn't have anything in common with the other kid.  Sometimes it just made things worse for the other kid because I wouldn't magically change anything and they, too, could tell that the friendship had not truly "clicked," so they ended up just feeling more rejected.  Now that I have a son, I demand that he be kind.  In a group setting (school, sports, church, etc.), he has to include everyone.  I try to keep my eye on what is happening in groups and will suggest that he give a shy or new kid a real chance.  But I don't force it.  I would see if you son would be willing to go on a play date once every month or two.  If he says no, I think you may have to tell your friend that you're trying to honor your child's choice in friends and that because life is busy he already has trouble seeing buddies he has a lot in common with.  If you frame it as a matter of common interests and limited time, hopefully she will take it in that light.  If she wants to have a heart to heart talk with you about the situation, then by all means be kind and honest.  Maybe she needs to come to the reality that her kid needs more help than he is getting.

    It sounds like both you and your son are very kind compassionate people. Congrats on having raised him to be so thoughtful. It's equally important though, I think, to raise children to understand that they do not need to allow themselves to be used by others in order to be a good person. And that does seem to be what's happening at this point. I don't mean the other mom is necessarily conscious of this, but whether she is or not the result is the same for your son—he is having to sacrifice himself for someone who he really doesn't want in his life. I suggest you tell the mom the truth: that you want your son to be able to choose his own playdates now that he is older and he has told you he wants to spend his time with other kids. I can't imagine she would not understand what you mean since she has already had so many playdate disasters with others. Yes, this is sad for the mom who is just trying to help her child and if you want to stay friendly I would offer lots of empathy and patient listening. But I don't think it's your son's job to help her with this.

    That kind of happened to us. It was hard but I told the mom I was very sorry but my son wasn't getting along with her son. We had a really good talk, I told her I enjoyed her company. She understood. Perhaps you can find a time when just the 2 moms can go out for a nice coffee and talk as friends without kids. Would your son be willing to invite the boy to his birthday parties, when the dynamic is different with other kids around? That is a nice jesture to invite to a party as a show of good faith but accept that they aren't best buddies...take care!

    This one makes me want to cry.  My son is a friendless special needs kid.  He once had a friend like your son, but the other child outgrew the friendship.  It was very painful, and my son has never had another successful friendship.  

    That said, your son is a child too, and his feelings matter.  Every child needs to believe that his parents listen and care about what he thinks.  So I think it's reasonable to ask your son to play with a special needs kid occasionally, but not all the time.  

    How about agreeing with your son that you will limit playdates to, say, once every 2 months (or whatever you agree on)?   That way your son gets the message that sometimes we all do things we don't want to do, because it's the right and compassionate thing to do, but he doesn't get burned out.  

    Your son sounds like a wonderful, caring, aware child, and it's impressive that he is able to "put on his big brother hat" and set aside his own preferences for this other child.  

    I would say don't force the playdates. You can let the other mom know diplomatically with: "My kid is at an age where he really wants to pick his own friends, instead of friends that I suggest for him. Hopefully your kid can get into an activity that he likes, and connect with people there."

    A compassionate boundary is often the solution. Best of luck.

    I think now that your son is 6, you can start to turn it over to him whether he wants to accept invitations or not.  I do believe that family obligations should trump this at times, which might mean that your son sometimes has a playdate with a kid because you want to hang out with the mom, or because you don't want to hurt anyone's feelings. But usually your son can decide who he socializes with. The way this plays out is that when another parent calls you about arranging a playdate, you say "Let me ask Billy - can I call you back?"  Then you do ask Billy, and if he says no, you call the other parent and make a polite excuse.  This happened to me when my oldest was around that age - I was on the other end. It really surprised me that the other mom was leaving it up to her kid whether there would be a playdate. But now, many years later, I can see that this is the logical progression in helping our kids learn how to socialize, be diplomatic, be independent. I will say, though, that we do still set up get-togethers sometimes that our kid doesn't really want.  If it doesn't work after a few attempts, then we don't insist unless it's a very close friend where it is more like a family obligation - like getting together with cousins you don't especially like but they are your cousins!

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Friend broke up with me - can our kids still be friends?

August 2008

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? Heartbroken

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. good luck

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 mention that she is a single mom and it seems like you are something up with her and your husband? Did he try something, or is she secretly in love with him? Questions to ponder... anon

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 day.... 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 forward.

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! anon

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

Friend's child is driving me nuts...

May 2008

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 her.)

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 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 even keel. hope this helps
Hi, I've worked with kids for years too, and I love the company of kids generally, but sometimes I just meet one I don't like. My first impulse is often to analyze the situation thinking I can discover what is wrong with the way the kid is raised or whatever, but I think the truth is that, just like adults, some of them rub me the wrong way.

I would give the parents (your friends) the benefit of the doubt (not judge their parenting -- or more properly, since I think judging comes sort of automatically, 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 closest 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 the new 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 problem, why should they pick a partner I like). Give your friends the benefit of the doubt that they are doing what they think is best as parents, that they have more information 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 love and respect these people, and it sounds like you do, then I think you should push yourself to see them as loving parents who just do things differently from you.

And allow yourself to vent about the kid when you aren't around the family. Anon

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). anon

My friend is a terrible parent - should I tell her?

May 2008

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. Cat

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, have 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, tread carefully. 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 let go
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. nobody's perfect
Hello 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 the same. Good Luck anon

Don't want to be around friend and her child

March 2008

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. anon

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 handle it. anon
I am in a similar position as your friends, so I thought my perspective might be 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 doesn't come 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 behavior 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 me really respectfully and expressed how much our friendship means to him, and that he knows we can work through this. He even owned, when I asked, that he has felt 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 feelings the same way I did, but I think it might be worth a shot. It seems like your friendship is important, so maybe this would be giving it respect. My friend framed it as ''parenting differences'' and stressed the things he sees as my strengths, so the discussion really felt good and mutually constructive. Good luck.

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 world....cause guess 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 to 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 gotta 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 willing, they 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 feeding, geez what the heck are people thing with that. Our friends also breatfeed their 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 on in 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 bad behavior in the 2nd grade, BTW. You may get some responses the other side but that is my 2 cents. Run, run like the wind. anon

Love my friend, hate her kid

June 2006

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? anonymous

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 consequences greater. If you lose the friendship over this, then I think you should consider yourself lucky Been there twice

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 nightmare. 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 matures. Also, 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.

The brat becomes less bratty with every year that passes. There is hope!

Tell my friend about her child's possible syndrome?

Jan 2006

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? anonymous

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! Diane
Yes! Absolutely yes! Jill
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. Liz
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

Friend's child makes my child crazy!

March 2005

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 old.

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? Anon please

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. anon

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. anon
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. A mom
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. anon

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!