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Am I being a bad friend for wanting to avoid a dear friend


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#1 ponine75

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Posted 23 June 2011 - 01:26 PM

I feel really guilty about this and not really sure what to do...

I have a wonderful friend who I absolutely adore and whose company I really enjoy. She has been there for our family when we needed her and I will always be grateful for that.

The issue is that she has a 3 year old girl who is quite aggressive (hitting, pushing, arm-twisting, hair-pulling etc) and uses my 2 year old as a human punching bag every time we are together. I have even seen her hit my little girl in the face with a hard-covered book, completely out of the blue. sad.gif
My friend does her best and tries to discipline her child but to no avail, her daughter just tells her Mum to go away, or just hits her Mum and continues with the behaviour... My friend will apologies profusely for her daughter, but basically beleives it's just her child's "bossy" nature and that she hopes she will grow out of it, as she is just a toddler...etc... But even added one time she might end up Prime Minister with that strong personality...

I find now that I can't relax when we are all together, needing to watch our children like a hawk so I can intervene when I need to. When we got home from another stressful play date I found red sore marks on both her little wrists from where she had been gripping her, and even places where she had actually drawn blood from digging her fingernails in so hard.

I really don't know what to do because truly, my friend is such a lovely person, and there is nothing more upsetting than someone telling you that your kid is a little sh!t. (Not that I would ever say that, goodeness, I'll be honest and say I have thought it many a time!!)

And she has done so much for us, her heart is as big as the sky, telling her that her child is too aggressive to be around would break her heart. sad.gif

But seriously, can I continue to let my own child be around her?? Not only is she getting hurt on a regular basis, but now it is affecting her own behaviour. She is far more difficult to deal with directly after an encounter with the other child, and she has now started hitting my husband and I which she has never done before.

I'm asking in particular to those of you who children may have been aggressive or difficult at some point - would you really resent your friend for wanting some "space" to protect her own child, or would you understand? And how exactly should I go about saying it?

thanks in advance (and apologies for such a long post)..









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#2 CookiesandCream

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Posted 23 June 2011 - 01:34 PM

No I don't think you are being a bad friend. It's your job to protect your daughter after all.

Is there any chance you can meet up with your friend without the kids? Get your husbands / Partners to look after the kids so you and your friend can meet up for a girly coffee or something? That way you can still see her but it will be less stressful for you.

As to how to tell her...I have no idea, I'm a chicken when it comes to that stuff ph34r.gif
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#3 ponine75

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Posted 23 June 2011 - 01:47 PM

QUOTE(CookiesandCream @ Jun 23 2011, 01:34 PM) View Post

No I don't think you are being a bad friend. It's your job to protect your daughter after all.

Is there any chance you can meet up with your friend without the kids? Get your husbands / Partners to look after the kids so you and your friend can meet up for a girly coffee or something? That way you can still see her but it will be less stressful for you.

As to how to tell her...I have no idea, I'm a chicken when it comes to that stuff ph34r.gif


I know, I'm a total chicken as well - it's the Pisces in me that doesn't like confrontation.. rolleyes.gif

Unfortunately I suggested your idea not long ago, only to have the excited suggestion in response that our husbands (who are friends) would get together with the kids for a play date while we did our girly day/evening out. So that leaves up back at square one.....




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#4 CookiesandCream

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Posted 23 June 2011 - 01:51 PM

QUOTE(ponine75 @ Jun 23 2011, 01:47 PM) View Post

Unfortunately I suggested your idea not long ago, only to have the excited suggestion in response that our husbands (who are friends) would get together with the kids for a play date while we did our girly day/evening out. So that leaves up back at square one.....


Is your husband the type that would say something? I know my husband can be a lot less um tactless (is that a word?) than me.
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#5 aChocLover

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Posted 23 June 2011 - 01:53 PM


I don't think you're a bad friend as such, but a good friend would be honest - even if it hurts sad.gif wink.gif Something I think I'd struggle with a lot, myself.

I think you are right in protecting your DD from this behaviour though. Ultimately there is going to come a time when this behaviour escalates and either your DD or another child gets hurt or your DD refuses to go/acts out etc.

I agree with CandC, that somehow you need to remove the children from the play dates and go back to having adult time together. If that's unachievable, I think you will either have to wait it out and hope her child gets better, or tell her that's the reason you can't have the play date. Alternatively you should start providing your DD with some strategies to deal with the behaviour and/or intervening more obviously and/or choosing a style of play date that doesn't provide the opportunities for the other child to do this to your DD.

Horrible position to be in, sorry sad.gif Good luck!

#6 *Simone*

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Posted 23 June 2011 - 03:09 PM


You're not a bad friend and you are in a tough position. If it were me, I'd see I have two options:

1. Organise adult only catch ups with her, at a time when your DD is not available for playdates.
Ie organise dinners or coffee at night time when your daughter is in bed and your husband available to be at home. Give the reason that you would just like to spend some one on one time with her.

2. Be honest and gentle. Tell her what a great friend she is, but that your daughter is getting physically hurt and her daugther is also teaching her to hit and this is causing problems at home. Tell her that you really value your friendship, and you don't like the idea that your children can't be friends but at this point in time you're not sure what else to do.
You do run the risk of upsetting her if you have this conversation, and who knows how she may react? But if you are really good friends you should be able to go to her in a kind and compassionate way, it really depends what kind of person she is.

#7 Liz.Wis

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Posted 23 June 2011 - 04:56 PM

I've found in a similar situation, meeting in more neutral territory (a park, or shops for a coffee and cake) somewhat effective.

#8 varkat

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Posted 23 June 2011 - 06:36 PM

I have a friend who I love to bits but can't stand her kids. They are mean, horrible little sods that bully my kids. The eldest of hers pushed my eldest off a large rock, she came crying to me and told me what happened. The toad that pushed her told his mum that he hated my child and that she shouldn't be playing near 'his' rock. The mum then just said: "xxx we don't say that". Not "xxx, say you are sorry" or anything like that. She didn't even apologise to me for his behaviour. From that moment, I have kept our friendship by speaking to her over the phone. I'm always busy. Possibly a cowardly way out. I suspect that she has some sort of idea as to why we are never meeting. She honestly thinks her kids are angels and never do anything wrong, even though she has seen them bully other children.

Hope you can resolve it.


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#9 nephthys

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Posted 23 June 2011 - 07:36 PM

We have a friend that doesn't live near and our children met for the first time when they were just over one (they're two weeks a part in age). We walked into their house and the first thing the mother said was "she's a rough nut".

Understatement. I have never, ever met a more aggressive, angry and frustrated child in my life. At 12 months old, she would bite indiscriminately, hit, throw things, scream, tantrum and within two hours of arriving, my son had two bite marks and a bruise from a thrown toy. He was sitting quietly playing with the toys on the floor while this angry mite made the visit quite painful. Her problem was she was very advanced in everything and couldn't communicate so she'd take it out on everyone and everything else. Also, in mine and DH's opinion, wasn't taking a tough enough stance on her behaviour, but that's subjective...

So, unfortunately, we fielded further invites, citing distance as the problem and they've now moved to another state, much to our relief. I felt bad trying to avoid them but we weren't close enough friends to explain why, but I had to protect my child. You will probably have to do the same. If she's a good friend, she'll understand.
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#10 chelley

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Posted 23 June 2011 - 11:34 PM

I am writing from the perspective of the mum with the child who had difficult behaviour. My beautiful daughter went through a short but horrendous phase of biting other children. At one playdate with two friends between us ( three adults) she still managed to bite the boy once and the younger girl twice. I ended up in tears. The mums went two ways about it.

One mum, of the younger girl, got really angry. Understandably and she stopped having playdates by being unavailable which was really easy to see through. I would have much preferred honesty as I was in no way oblivious to how horrible biting is.


The second mum took the "who knows what stage my child will go through next" approach. We reduced the time the kids were together and the group playdates. We chatted a lot and she let me know that it hadn't affected our friendship. My daughter moved through the phase, her son went into a kicking phase and we went the full circle again lol

However the friendship with the second mum is much stronger now and with the first - it's awkward. Her child is now at the age that Raya was when she started biting and she is showing socially undesirable behaviours and I think she realises how bad you feel as the mum when it happens.

Honest, reassuring and gentle is the way to go. Your child is still younger and kids all go through phases. Be supportive and your friendship will be stronger for it
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#11 Thelma

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Posted 24 June 2011 - 09:27 AM

I think as long as she acknowledges that her child's behaviour is not good then I think you have something to work with. The fact that she apologises shows that she does this. Unfortunately there really is only so much she can do to stop this behaviour from happening, like Chelley pointed out. Given that she's such a good friend, I think honesty is best and ask her what you think you both could do to try to limit the harm on your child.

#12 ~ela~

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Posted 24 June 2011 - 11:07 AM

It’s a hard situation. sad.gif

I think it’s a good sign your friend is aware of her daughters behaviour. I do think that at 3 she should be removed from the situation (ie time out) for a couple of minutes to calm down. Although it doesn’t sound nice at all that your child is being used as a human punching bag, I would be inclined to do what I could to still catch up with them, as crazy as that may sound.

I would have the opposite opinion if she didn’t discipline the child, wasn’t aware of her child’s behaviour, or you weren’t close friends.

I agree with the above that children go through these (not nice) stages, and it’s embarrassing as a parent when your child who you try and enforce kind values into starts those horrible things. I clearly remember when I was 3 and by brother was 1 he used to bite me all.the.time. All my pictures as a kid at that age I had horrid teeth marks on my arms!

What I am getting at is some kids kick/bite/push, some do all of that, it’s often hard when they are at the age of just starting to use words and you cannot get out of them why they are doing it, or whether they are testing you, or it’s something else. Ethan has started a lot of this behaviour with Lucas (but not other kids). I do believe (or hope!) it’s just a stage, he’s testing me, letting Lucas know he was here first etc.

While it’s certainly not the weather for being outside, you could try to meet at more open areas where there are things to keep them both busy, separately. Walk to a park, meet at an oval (take a ball) with morning tea, a play centre? Or you may just have to be with them the whole time if inside, for example set them up with an activity (painting, colouring in, gluing) in the play area and just sit in that area without letting them wander far.

If it were my child that was aggressive it would break my heart if a close friend had to distance her child from mine because of it, but I would understand. The aggressive stage is hopefully only that, a stage, and it should ideally pass.

#13 tastebud

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Posted 24 June 2011 - 02:43 PM

QUOTE(AliRo @ Jun 24 2011, 09:27 AM) View Post

I think as long as she acknowledges that her child's behaviour is not good then I think you have something to work with. The fact that she apologises shows that she does this. Unfortunately there really is only so much she can do to stop this behaviour from happening, like Chelley pointed out.


I agree with this.

Just my experience as I have been going through something similar for more than two years. The aggressor's behaviour has barely improved in that time. My child specifically asks that we do not see this child sad.gif These are the natural conseqences when someone, anyone, behaves anti-socially....

It is extremely difficult to maintain the friendship as it once was. I have mainly tried to show empathy with the parents, and have stated what I would be doing in the situation. But of course I am not going to continually force my child to associate with someone who is assaulting him.

I have explained to my child that s/he will come across this kind of behaviour from time to time. S/he knows that I will not let the child hurt them. I watch vigilantly. S/he is to say "stop" but if it doesn't, they have my pemission to defend themselves. I also want him to get some (good) learning out of the situation.

Also:

We limit contact with the child.
Unavoidable contact is always on neutral ground (e.g a park) so there is less chance of my child being the only target.
I meet up with the parents without children. A dinner after kids bedtime is a good way to avoid your friend's suggestion.

If the parents were to ask me directly about these changes I would explain as sensitively as possible about my child's very valid fears. That hasn't happened.

That's all I got. It's hard, good luck.
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#14 ponine75

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Posted 26 June 2011 - 09:28 AM

Wow, THANK YOU all so much for your very helpful feedback and advice...

It is a difficult situation, but not as uncommon as I had thought, as it turns out, so thank you all for your responses.

My friend is indeed a true friend, and someone who I do owe at the very least the respect of some honesty, as long as it is given gently, with love and as chelley pointed out, the point of view that "who knows what stage my child will go through next".. I like that.

chelley I'm grateful for your perspective and it has really helped me see things from the other point of view, and your example of which of your two friendships was able to survive the incident was the perfect example for my situation.

QUOTE(CookiesandCream @ Jun 23 2011, 01:51 PM) View Post

Is your husband the type that would say something? I know my husband can be a lot less um tactless (is that a word?) than me.


No my husband is an even bigger chicken than me lol

I did try to to have a playdate in a park, but unfortunately, being in a larger area only seemed to encourage "larger" aggressive acts ie dragging kids by the hair off the swings and onto the ground etc... Pushing from the top of the slippery dip...I was about to have a heart attack from the stress!!

I dont think the issue is that she is frustrated from not being able to communicate - this child can speak in full sentences and is VERY clear about what she wants. She is very loving and affectionate to all grown-ups, even strangers (unless she is being disciplined, then she hits them). If she is the only child in a room full of adults she is the most angelic thing you ever met.

BUT when there is another child around it's a different story...she will shadow them and basically grab or take whatever the other child has or shows an interest in whether it be a toy, an apparatus in the park, even food. She will do this with visible anger on her face which I imagine is quite frightening for another child. If there is any resistance, then the real aggression kicks in ie. hitting, grabbing their wrists and bellowing in their faces and all the other stuff I've already mentioned.
If my kid moves on and picks something else to play with, the other toy is quickly discarded and it starts all over again. My little one will come to me for comfort, she will try to shove her off my lap so that she can have a cuddle too...

I don't have a lot of experience with children, having only the one, so perhaps this is regular toddler behaviour, and as a few of you have said, probably just a phase.. But it has been going on for as long as I have known them, well over a year and is only becoming an issue as we began spending more time together... How long do these phases normally go for?
Just to note; This child doesn't have any siblings or relatives close to her age. She doesn't attend childcare so has little experience playing "nicely" with other kids. Her parents have said often that they want her to spend more time with mine, and the children of our other friends, exactly for that reason. unsure.gif

There is some awesome advice given here, so yes for the time being I will limit the time her child and mine spend together, but at the same time, organise catch ups on the days my child is at day care and go see both Mum and her child (so that she doesn't feel it's anything personal against the little one.). I like the idea of dinner for all parents after kids bedtime as well, just need to work out babysitting details (and make sure that the same babysitter for both kids isn't suggested!!).

thanks guys xxx




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#15 flowerrose

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Posted 26 June 2011 - 08:56 PM

You have to stop the playdates. It is not fair for your child to be hurt like this and it is certainly not her role to be the punchbag while her friend learns some control. Parents teach not other kids.

Can you phrase it in neutral terms to your friend? Something like seeing as they aren't playing nicely together at the moment or that they aren't getting on too well right now.

I have been in this situation with three friends. It resulted in phase-out for two of them after months of escalating aggressive behaviour because, although they tried to sort it out I didn't feel that they were doing enough (ignoring/excusing it a lot) & the issue was never fully acknowledged. (like, in your case, although she's a good friend she's living in dream world suggesting that your DHs meet up with the kids instead). It just became a massive source of stress every time.

The third mum was the total opposite, readily acknowledged the situation, told me how she planned to deal with it, asked me to support her doing it and told me to feel free to discipline her child if I see anything she isn't on to.

The difference in attitudes was really marked. Also it helped that in the third scenario it was clearly just a phase, born out of over-excitedness more than anything else and he's a lovely little boy, whereas the other two were (& still are) vicious little bullies who would wait until they thought no-one was watching and hit my kids with whatever weapon they could find.

I know it is a tricky subject but friendship goes two ways. I hate the way mothers find themselves treading on eggshells when their kids are being beaten up. If it was mine (and Sophie has bitten a friend once) I would be all over it, remove her (them) immediately and be the one suggesting leaving the kids out of it for a while.

Ethan is presently quite challenging around other kids. He's not aggressive but you can tell he finds it stressful and/or overstimulating and we end up with lots of crying and tantrums. He's particularly bad around toy sharing & has an almost obsessional attachment to certain toys. It's a royal PITA but basically means that I can't socialise with my friends at the moment. I still see them for play dates but most of my time is spent one-on-one with Ethan guiding him through it. I'd like to sit and drink coffee and gossip but right now it's not going to work.




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