Thursday, September 29, 2011

Have Your Kids Cost You Any Friendships?

An interesting post over at Single Parent Dad the other day got me thinking. I don't really think my kids, or the kids of others have actually ended a friendship, but there have been a few that have come very close, or at least have tested my loyalty.

- the parent who, on entering my house, loudly instructs her children that I'm now the boss since it's my house. The instruction goes something like - "Children, remember when I explained that not all houses have the same rules as we do and we must respect others? Well, now you have to listen to what Mrs. Expat wants you to do or not do in her house." Loosely translated however, it means - "Kids, I'm going to kick back and have a glass of wine so if you don't play nicely, you'll have Mrs. Expat to deal with." And off she goes, leaving me to make dinner, referee fights and keep her glass full.

- the parent whose child can do no wrong. Fortunately most of my friends are on the same wavelength as me (is. we know our kids aren't angels and can generally resolve things if left to figure it out). However, every so often there' a parent (male or female) who seeks to iron out spats - but funnily enough, usually only when their child feels wronged. Their darling can have spent the whole afternoon screaming, snatching toys and refusing to put things back, but the minute said child suffers any indignity, we have to have a feckin' tribunal, with my child being the defendant (naturally) and a lecture on good behaviour from "well-meaning parent". ("Honey I'm only saying what your mother was probably going to say to you. Isn't that right mom?") One of these days I will have spine enough to say "Yes, but I wouldn't dream of disciplining someone else's child."

- the parent who wants their child in the spotlight. All the time. This one really makes my heart sink. You open the front door and there's little Jonny ready to show you his latest judo moves/drumming ability/mastery of Chinese. You spend the next half hour bearing witness to his brilliance, then intermittently thereafter. It's funny how the parent has usually wandered off into the TV room, leaving you trapped with the genius child.


- the bullied parent. You know -the one who won't stand up to a very small human? The one who allows her child to yell and scream, dictating when it's time to leave, where and what they should eat, and whether or not they can talk to me. I have even had one child put his hand over the mouth of his mother every time she tried to say something. For some reason, this was totally acceptable to her (either that or she was too embarrassed to do anything), but I was so irritated, I had to leave the room. Again, in retrospect, I probably should have said "Sweetie (as you do when your teeth are gritted) Your mother and I are trying to have a conversation.....etc", but truthfully, there is no conversation to be had with parents like this.

Kids eh?

12 comments:

  1. I had a problem with the last example. A really REALLY naughty boy who was mean to his mother (my friend) and mean to me and my daughter and anyone else within reach. My daughter was friends with his sister. But no more and my friendship with his mother has faded to a passing 'hello!'

    I also started to become friends with a woman who, it turned out, only needed me as yet another ear to call when she had a complaint about how poorly the school was treating her daughter. I eventually learned to stop answering the phone hen I saw it was her.

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  2. Toni, I've never actually considered #1 or at least I've never looked at it from that point of view. Interesting.

    The bullied parent is much more common than I would like to admit and they don't tend to stay my friend for very long.

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  3. Snigger. I'm amused by the first one, but have never come across it either! Bullied parent yes, but I usually feel sorry for them. What about parents whose children have a meltdown every time they come round and the parent gets so stressed that have to leave? I get bored of having to explain to my kids that little Patrick went home early.

    Mind you, I'm sure some people find my noisy boys far too rambunctious and have quietly crossed us off their playdate list...

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  4. Oh believe me, number 1 was not a figment of my imagination. Couched as extreme politeness and deference to me, I know it was just a ploy to get out of looking after her own bratty kids. Mind you, I was really strict with them and they didn't get away with much; it just wasn't very relaxing.
    And the tantrums - hmmm. I think I put that in the same class as the bullied parent in that the child rules the roost. Having said that, I have a lot more sympathy with meltdown kids than just horrible naughty ones.

    This is not to say I'm a perfect parent or that my kids were all perfect when little, but I like to think we didn't fall into any of these categories. Talk about rose-tinted memories....

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  5. I have a friend who I enjoy spending time with, but I'm always stressed when she brings her child along. He whines and disobeys and she blithely ignores it. He's never wrong and always the wronged party. On top of this, my son can't stand her son. She tries to get them to do playdates and sleep overs and my son refuses to go. It's actually kind of stressful because I feel like I'm always making excuses not to be with the two of them. It's hard telling a friend the truth about their kid!

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  6. Ah this takes me back...best one was a neighbor of ours whose son was a bit of a liar, and (more than once) managed to throw our Son#2 under the bus (metaphorically speaking.) We knew the kid was lying, but he was wily, and although we believed Son#2 was innocent in each case, it was clear that Mr&Mrs Neighbor did not. This finally stopped when lying boy went home one day and told a lie so egregious (that our - much smaller - son had 'knocked him down and kicked him repeatedly in the head' on the school bus) that protective neighbor came flying over and demanded that we all have a meeting to 'get to the bottom of this' (eg, put my son on the spot and teach him a lesson for his bullying.) Both parents arrived with their son in tow, we all sat down, and - with both boys in the room -we asked lying boy to tell us what had happened. Strangely, when he was sitting directly in front of my son, it wasn't quite so easy to tell the lie, and, as his father cross-examined him (and my son, who hadn't actually been on the bus that day to do any kicking and beating up..oops!) the story fell apart in a most embarrassing way. We watched Mr. and Mrs. Neighbor become increasingly embarrassed as the interview progressed and it became glaringly obvious that the whole thing had been an enormous lie. Son #2 was exonerated, LyingBoy was sentenced to a zillion years of GameBoy confiscation/hard labor/grounding, and (best part), the neighbors no longer came rushing over to cry 'Foul' every time their son decided to tell them a tall tale. And of course, at least they were willing to find out the truth and admit it when they were wrong. We are actually best of friends to this day, but we never, ever, mention that little incident...; )

    And yes, I never did well with parents who let their kids run roughshod all over them. I hated when this would happen and they would roll their eyes and give you a 'well, what can you do?' look while being bullied/whined at/coerced, as though all parents just had to suffer through this with no possible recourse. My boys weren't angels, but they knew what it meant when I raised my eyebrows at them, and it wasn't good.

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  7. I hate the spotlight child! WHEN will all parents realise that their children are only amazing/brilliant/beautiful to THEM. Other people can't see it and are not interested.

    Apart from my kids. They are amazing and brilliant and would you like to see their judo moves? :-)

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  8. Having read Ms Caroline's story, has anyone else seen the play God of Carnage? That is the ultimate imagination of what can happen when parents fall out....!

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  9. Most excellent and chill ghosts from my past fluttered by. Esp loved Piggy's comment. Thank God my kids are old enough not to have to do that ghastly shared visit thing. Not edifying. No correlation, either, betw liking kids/parents

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  10. Ha! I do no.1 all the time (tell my kids the host is boss), but it never occurred to me I could absolve myself of responsibility for them; I'll keep that in mind ;o)

    I find the bullied parent the hardest to deal with. I had a friend just like that - it was so very wearing, for everyone (except the kid). Sure, you can't discipline them, and yes I think it counted towards the end of the friendship. I stopped inviting them round, because I just kept wanting to bang their heads together.

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  11. Not to date - one of the things I have found useful as a parent is discussing the "stage" our children are in with parents who have children the same age as LLC. But these conversations are reciprocal and reassuring....if someone only ever wanted to talk about their own child and never listeded or reciprocated when I needed advice, that would rub me the wrong way.

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  12. Then there's the mother who is so anxious for you to think she is a good mother, that she's in over-drive and it's just exhausting. "Charlie, just one cookie, because that's our rule... no, not two... you know we never have two cookies... no, we don't... yes, I know they do at preschool, but we don't at home, do we?" It's all a monologue for your benefit, and must be rather confusing for the child.

    Nice to see you got your favourite blog word into this post!

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