Friday, May 11, 2012

{Friendship Friday} When kids come between friends

these are all new except for the two big bottles. The square bottle on the left is my signature colour and it's called Sienna :)

So how has your week been?

I had a Groupon special today - facial, mani and pedi. The results were worth the price (my skin hasn't felt this silky smooth in years) but I won't go back because it was not in the least bit relaxing.

Picture it - legs twisted in one direction for one girl to work on my toes, torso twisted in another direction for another girl to do my nails and another customer jabbering away on her cell phone about labour practices and motivating for a position blah blah blah. Clearly an HR gal :)

And then a very bright room for my facial so I had to squint my eyes and eventually I couldn't anymore and shouted, "PLEASE will you do something about those lights" and so she did.

I had to cheer myself up by buying another 3 little nail polishes on the way out of the shopping centre - tangerine, green and

this messy manicure was done by me (today's one is only the second one I've ever paid for :))

 But onto today's topic.

A dear blog reader sent me this question and I thought, "yesssss. I can relate to that" so let me tell you my story first.

My friend, Nat, has an angel child (according to the Baby Whisperer). Really he is. Natalie has WHITE couches and vases of WATER with flowers everywhere and this child doesn't even touch them.

Of course I practically gasped when I saw this, imagining my kids in that situation, and she said she tells him, "these are Mummy's things".

I tried that approach but mine still touch a million times before they get it.

When D1 was a baby (not yet walking), Nat visited me and I said to D, "I'm a little scared. What if our two fight with him and we end up fighting?"

Nat is one of my most favourite people in all the world so you can imagine I don't want these little friends coming between us.

Fortunately, all went well and my children behaved and later... D1 got tougher. Now I smile inside when he tells them he was playing with whatever toy.

We do have very similar values, especially with parenting, which helps a lot.

But what if D1 was allowed to behave in a way I found totally inappropriate?

I'm not talking about small things because there are times when I wouldn't have perhaps disciplined her kid and I know there are times when she thinks I'm being a bit much with mine.

That's not what I mean.

Or D1 was so badly behaved I wouldn't want him around my kids?

I'm also not talking about special needs kids. But if you have experiences relating to SNK, please share in the comments, especially you, J.

Thankfully, with ALL of my friends, all of our kids haven't been an issue yet (that I know of).

Is it only a matter of time though?

I read on Ask Moxie a month or two ago about how parents stopped being friends because of how their kids treated one another. One mother (either in the post or comments) cited an example where the other child's mother said she didn't want their kids being friends anymore since her kid was a bad example.

Don't you just cringe at the thought?

If you read that post, there are very understandably lots of hurt feelings.

Anyway, back to the blog reader.

She has a good friend but their parenting styles differ a lot and, as such, she really doesn't want her kids exposed to the kind of behaviour her friend tolerates from her kids.

I totally get it.

This is a major reason I don't want mine to go to pre-school just yet. I'm not ready for the behaviour they may pick up.

She asked me if you can be friends with someone but only in certain contexts like non-kid activities.

I mentioned my one friend on the blog once where we can't get together as couples because they (the two of them) go crazy when they're with other people. I now see her alone (in fact, we have a date on Tuesday).

So I say a resounding YES!

But what do you think?

Have kids ever come between your friendships? Tell me more.
Are your and your friends parenting styles similar?
Do you have situations like mine where you're only one type of friend?


  1. I do so love these posts, Marcia!

    I would never want another mama to feel condemned, because their child behaved poorly around my own children. That being said, I'm exactly the same way with the whole pre-school things. I'm terrified of what things they'll learn there. I'm afraid they'll discovered processed cheese, and refuse to eat carrots anymore. I'm afraid they'll discover princesses and come home telling me that a Barbie is what they want for Christmas.

    I digress ;)

    The best example I can come up with is this:

    My husband and I work in the toddler room at church sometimes. It gets a little crazy in there, as we can often have as many as 10 toddlers running around to the two of us! There is this one little girl that comes there, who can just be downright mean sometimes. One day she targeted this other little girl and was checking her into the wall. It was terrible! And the whole time I was thinking, "My daughters are watching this---they don't even know to behave this way!" (and thankfully they haven't on account of seeing that)

    When her parents came to pick her up I had a conversation with them. Again, I didn't want to condemn them, but I did want to find out what was effective in keeping their daughter from repeating the behavior the next time. The mama, whom I've since hung out with a bit socially, said that of their four children, she is the biggest problem (3rd child out of the 4), and she has no idea why she behaves the way she does. She was so tearful about it, I know it eats her up, and has felt judged as a parent by others in the past.

    I've thought, though, about if I'd let our girls play together outside of church, knowing that her daughter had a propensity to behave aggressively.

    I think I would, because I know we'd both be watching, and I know that her mama doesn't approve or condone that behavior, and would stop it and discipline accordingly. Where I'd have a tougher time would be if she didn't see anything wrong with behaving like that.

    I know that we weren't friends first, so it's not an exact example to what you're talking about here, but it's what I thought about as I was reading.

    Love that blue color you put on your nails! Very fun! :)

  2. I just took off that *almost exact* color from my toes! :)
    I also am terrified of everything they'll bring home from pre-school, and I've staunchly decided against it all together. I haven't personally experienced this, but I have the opposite of people not liking to be around my kids. My best friend, in fact, seemingly tolerates my kids. That is overstating it. She does like kids, but in small controlled doses. She strongly feels that our time is our time, and expects my undivided attention. I can easily invite her to their birthday, she'll come and enjoy herself, but when it comes our time she expects it to be just us.

    Of course I don't mind having time for just us, but I also think she is a bit unreasonable in her requests. It has driven a bit of a wedge between us. She thinks it's acceptable for me to just up and leave my children, that my husband should be able to pick-up the pieces and cope. She doesn't quite get parenting yet. So I think it is possible to be friends in certain contexts. I think it is far more taxing, and the relationship would have to really be worth it for all the extra effort. It certainly can be done, I'm doing it now.

    When it comes to my children, I'm horribly particular and fortunately they are still young enough where I can pick their friends. I'm the only one in my group with friends, but I like to think that when the others start to have children that we'd still get along. Although I can promise you if their children are hellians we would remain friends outside of our children!

  3. Mmm...we have sort of had this problem. We stopped seeing one of my cousins for a bit because his son realised N was scared of him and went out of his way to terrorise her. The next time we ran into them at something we couldn't avoid he was a perfect little angel though and now they get on fine.

    N goes to school and I'm not overly worried about what she might pick up there. At this stage she still models most of her behaviour on mine. Now and then she comes home with a new word I don't like (for instance calling a bottle a tietie) but I just make it clear if she wants me to give it to her she has to call it by the right name and she drops the other one in a hurry.

    I have cut out one or two of my own friends because even though they were fine for me alone I don't think they would be a good example for N.

    As for N's own friends, she seems to have two closish ones at school. The one I don't like and the other one's parents are fairly rude. In this lsdt week it looks like N shook of the one I don't like, even though I didn't say a word about it. And after about two years the other one's parents finally started returning my greetings when I see perhaps they were just shy? ;-)

  4. I have made a few "mommy friends" since my boy was born - one that has become a close friend who I hang out with without and with kids and have done a weekend away with. The rest mainly play-date friends. And then of course a couple of "fertility friends" who are now moms too. In the non-fertility group I met one mom who I like. But the few times we met after our kids became mobile was torture for me. Her kid was a real bully kid, and the first visit I experienced this I was ended up having to constantly keep an eye in fear that my boy would be hit with something, pushed, or hurt in some way. Her boy just had no way of communicating with other kids, and tended to be very rough and a little violent. Not sure why, as they are wonderful people. Part of me suspected that he was not really in the company of other kids his age much and that he really just did not know what to do. I remember that one day quite clearly - when we arrived he looked really excited to see my boy, but then things just got a bit too rough for me. I also turned out to not be the only mom feeling that way, so I know I was not overreacting. He really was that bad. So in the end I turned out not that keen on playmates or meet ups, because it turned out too much for me! Other than that this has not been an issue for me. Not many friends, and those I have stuck with tend to have the same values and those with kids the same general parenting style and kids with similar attitudes and behaviors. And not all my "dates" with other moms and kids are perfect - kids fight, that always happens.... But that one "bad" experience I remember as my kid got clobbered, hair was pulled, and a few other things for no apparent reason. And the reaction from the mom was not as strict or firm as that of other moms I hang out with or what I would have expected under the circumstances. That I could just not handle....

  5. I have been on both sides of this:

    I have one friend who has a son who is a few months younger than Child1. I find that she treats him too much like an adult so he thinks that he's one. He is a bit too "grown-up" for Child1 and not in a good way. It is a morals and values issue - we are quite different in our approaches to this. For example, we would take our kids to Spur and then she would let him have sips of her wine! Or she would collect free condoms for him and tell him to keep it in his stash (I kid you not!). My child1 is actually still very child-like. He still wants to play in the park. On the swings. He still wants to bounce on jumping castles. Kids who have ADHD are approximately 2 years behind in maturity levels - a fact which occasionally annoys me but mostly has me relieved. I also find that when Child1 has spent too much time with her kid then he's different. He's more whiny, more of a brat, more demanding. I HATE that. My DH does too. I must say though that she LOVES my kid and has never ever shown me any judgement - only empathy. In fact, even though she can't relate I always feel OK to talk to her about it. We have different morals/values and as an adult I can live with and tolerate that. Child1 is not yet mature enough (or even remotely ready) to embrace these types of differences with others. So, we socialise without our kids. I kind of pushed it in that way and she went for it - she's a single parent and now understands that she needs "downtime" away from her kid.

    WRT the special needs issue, I am really lucky that my kids don't seriously misbehave in public (except for the occasional tantrum from Child2 due to sensory overload or whatever). They don't fight with other kids or anything like that but they are both LOUD, especially Child1. I am very intuitive and can see immediately if they can't cope. It really is obvious not in what they say or do but in what they DON'T say or do. I can see it in their eyes and in their body language. I can see it in the way they cringe when one of my kids refuse to eat their food (both of them have sensory issues - Child 1 is exceptionally picky and doesn't do well with foods that are too textured - he might even gag and Child2 copes with most textures but doesn't do "wet and runny and messy" food so will scream until I give him something out of my bag like a biscuit or whatever. I can see it in the way they relate to my kids and speak to them. I can see it when they can't look my kids in the eye when they speak to them. I usually just stay away and try again a few months later. I can't exactly blame them - even I can't cope with it sometimes though I am now at the point where I'm forcing the issue with my kids - if they can't accept them then they can't have me. It's that simple. We are usually the people who don't get invited back to parties etc. We are usually the people who get invited alone instead of with other people.

    No one has specifically "broken up" with us yet. LOL...I think that they are scared of me. Interestingly enough, I have one set of childless friends (she's infertile) and they LOVE LOVE LOVE my kids and think that they are the best thing since sliced bread. The issues simply don't seem to bother them. I often wonder how the dynamics of this friendship will change once they have their own kid.

    btw...I am VERY easy-going with other peoples kids. As long as they don't put their feet on my couches, swear and back-chat, fight or scratch in my stuff, they can stay. They can even jump on the beds! Seriously. Kids will be kids. Of course I only allow certain behaviour for toddlers. You can't be jumping on beds if you are older than 5!

  6. Sadly, I don't have friends who have kids. Sadly, all of them are struggling with infertility. I have one friend who is having a c-section next week and Friday, so she will be my first friend with a child.

  7. Hm, yes, we had friends, "had" not have any more who has no parenting style if you ask me. They just let their kids be. One evening the boy (about 2 months younder than A) grabbed her head and bumped it against the couch - clearly intentionally(thankfully a bit of padding there). The parents did not even get up, they just kept sitting and said "JH you really ust not do that". I freaked, she was abviously histerical. The rest of the evening he caused mayhem - threw all her toys out of a crate and the parents made no attempt to even discipline or help to tiday or got himt o tiday, broken crayons, just went mad. I was so happy the boys were tiny babies asleep upstairs. They stayed the whole evening and she just stuck to sitting on my lap the whole time. We decided not to invite them ever again as I will not lte my children see that and be subjected to that. Luckily we totally agreed ont he issue.

    And you know what, I am not sorry one bit for it.

  8. Oh yes m and as to school and behaviour of kids at school it is very much up to the teachers and shool to create the culture there. At the moment the boys have one bully in the school that is also a very rude child but the school is handling it so well. But I have to blgo about this as he is targeting poor L.

  9. Ugh...I just came over to read the comments and so many are talking about preschool / school...right after I made my preschool post this morning! ;)

    My situation is kinda weird, I think, because K and I became friends after our girls were born...our paths crossed because of them. It only seems natural that we invite each other to parties and play dates, because that's how we know each other.

    So far, the only interaction our girls have had (outside of many hours spent in their strollers, side by side, as we walk in the neighborhood) is in a group setting, which is a little better than one-on-one, I guess.

    Interesting to hear so many folks have experiences to cite!

  10. Oh, and I appreciate what Cat said about the atmosphere at school. Somehow I have fewer fears about 8 kids in a preschool classroom than I do about them entering Kindergarten with 18 or so other kids.

    As Julia mentioned, I also have a concern about food and toys, but I'm hoping that will be a non-issue, given the short exposure they'll have at school, and mealtimes not being concerned. ;)


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