AIBU WRT children and adult conversation being interupted?

(64 Posts)
MightTinge Mon 25-Mar-13 14:09:12

Wasnt really sure how to word the OP.

I see a friend, who I love to bits, but I find it difficult to hold her attention to a conversation. I wondered if anyone else did this themselves? Or like me, is on the recieving end of it.

She was fine when our toddlers were babies, but now conversing with her can be rather painful.

Id not seen her in weeks, she knew Id split from my partner so it was one of the first things she asked. I began to tell her, but she'd be constantly tickling and playing with her toddler, blowing raspberries on him, laughing with him, talking to him. As though I wasnt in the room, let alone answering her question.

She'll do it with her eldest too, although its not so bad now her her first DC is no longer a toddler.

Is it a bit rude, or AIBU and this is usual once your a parent?

I have children myself but when someone is talking to me they have my attention. Unless of course child needs a wee or is hurt or something obviously.


PurpleStorm Mon 25-Mar-13 14:13:14

Sounds a bit rude to me.

Provided that the toddler's not in need of immediate attention, that is.

StuntGirl Mon 25-Mar-13 14:13:24

I'd be annoyed with a friend who did this. Although I don't think you can expect her undivided attention while the kids are around either she should have enough sense to know she's behaving rudely.

Frogman Mon 25-Mar-13 14:15:10

YANBU. Really irritating when some mothers behave like this - seems like they have lost all sense and drives me mad.

Same as when some women let their children interrupt them in the middle of adult conversation.

thezebrawearspurple Mon 25-Mar-13 14:15:34

Very rude and irritating, yanbu.

SirChenjin Mon 25-Mar-13 14:16:35

No, she's being rude. Blowing raspberries and tickling her toddler while you're trying to hold a conversation would indicate that there is nothing immediately wrong with her child.

MightTinge Mon 25-Mar-13 14:18:06

It was constant. The whole time I was there. I gave up trying to start (or finish) conversations in the end.

She was seeking him out to play, cuddle, giggle and talk to her DC, not even facing me.

It was really annoying.

More so because she's great company, more of a loss!

jumpingjackhash Mon 25-Mar-13 14:18:16

YANBU I think this is rude. A friend of mine is like this and I've just stopped seeing so much of her, as we never actually got to have a conversation. It's the same on the phone (when she phones me, so it's not just a case of me calling her at an inconvenient time!).

MajaBiene Mon 25-Mar-13 14:18:39

Sounds rude.

I do usually let my 2 year old interrupt a little bit when I am with adult friends though as usually he only comes to talk to me to say he has done a poo/is about to do a poo hmm But I wouldn't break off a conversation to tickle him or engage in chat about fire engines.

EarlyInTheMorning Mon 25-Mar-13 14:19:17

That's unbelievably rude.

I also have children but if I am having a conversation with an adult, I totally expect them to respect that and wait their turn to speak. I'm not saying they always do it grin, but the expectation is there.

Equally, I would not turn my attention away to my children when somebody else is talking to me, unless they were in need of something or in danger.

WowOoo Mon 25-Mar-13 14:20:15

I suppose it depends on the child's age and how easily he can entertain himself.

I have a three year old and I know that if I ignore him for too long he'll play up.
But I'd say 'excuse me' or 'I am trying to listen' or something like that.

If there was something important to discuss ( like you had), I'd try to get the children doing something first so that I could give you my undivided attention.

EarlyInTheMorning Mon 25-Mar-13 14:21:34

I guess the issue here is that the person initiating the 'interruption' is the adult not the child. So your friend is being unbelievably unreasonable and rude.

MightTinge Mon 25-Mar-13 14:23:05

She does it on the phone too, yes. I can hear her talking to her children while Im talking.

I dont dominate conversations either, by any stretch although I am aware that this thread may have me appear that way!

OhChristHasRisenFENTON Mon 25-Mar-13 14:24:03

I do find it rude actually - it's one thing if it's a quick bit of attention for the child so that she can then be free to carry on with your conversation but if it's constant that's just irritating.

My sister has always done this with 'phone conversations, - the minute she's on the 'phone one of the children suddenly wants her attention and rather than teach them not to interrupt and wait, she will talk to them and deal with whatever they want while I'm hanging on the 'phone, - drives me bonkers.

They are all in their late teens/twenties now and they still do it grin

SoftKittyWarmKitty Mon 25-Mar-13 14:25:48

I have friends like this. We'll meet up with the kids and one of them will ask how work is going (for instance). I start to answer, then friend 1 will turn to one of her pre-school DC and start talking to them and friend 2 will be constantly checking her phone/texting. At that point I tend to let what I'm saying trail off because they're not listening anyway so what's the point? I can't remember the last time I actually finished what I was saying when with them hmm.

JockTamsonsBairns Mon 25-Mar-13 14:29:01

YANBU at all. I have a lovely dear friend who I meet up with once a week for a coffee and a catch up, along with our pre-schoolers. However, it's becoming a bit of a non-starter as far as catching up is concerned, as her Dc's are constantly interrupting and she immediately turns her attention to them. It's quite literally every time I'm mid sentence, and I've reached the point of suggesting we meet in the evening instead. It's not her Dc's fault, they've learned that they get instant attention no matter what. I've always said to mine 'Just a minute, please - there's someone speaking just now' - I do make a point of getting back to them, as they are doing well at learning to wait their turn.

MightTinge Mon 25-Mar-13 14:29:45

Yes thats the thing, I'll actually just stop right in the middle of answering her question and she wont notice.

This just seems odd to me, how can you not be aware of an adult talking to you?

neunundneunzigluftballons Mon 25-Mar-13 14:37:10

Ok I would need to know the ages of the children to judge here like if we are talking over 5 I agree but anything younger I would stil see a need for partial entertainment from their mother. My firends and I have a meet up in our houses weekly and other than my eldest the children go from 4 down and it is a free for all. We would not even try to engage in a serious conversation. That is for a few glasses of wine on a Friday night

MajaBiene Mon 25-Mar-13 14:40:41

I'd feel a bit depressed if I couldn't meet up with friends and actually chat with them just because we have our 2 year olds with us! That said I have never been an "entertainer mother" though, and have always expected DS to be able to play by himself, especially when there are other children around. Obviously we don't ignore them and conversation has to be interrupted sometimes to referee an argument or take someone to the loo, but I would find it extremely rude if someone stopped mid conversation with me to play with their child.

lisac99 Mon 25-Mar-13 14:43:42

I've found this with one of my friends who has 3 kids (I don't have any children). I know she was worried when she had kids that she wouldn't see any of her friends any more, therefore I made a lot of effort and would 80% of the time, drive down to Bath to see her (about 1.5 hours from where I am).

I enjoyed seeing her, but most of the time, she'd bring the kids with her so we'd have to go to a 'kid friendly' place and it was exactly the same as in the OP... We couldn't have a proper conversation as the children would constantly be trying to get our attention and it really, really started to get on my nerves. Sometimes it's just nice to have an 'adult' conversation and despite my efforts to see her, I've actually found I'm now not seeing her as often as it doesn't really feel like we're catching up.

I would really suggest trying to meet her without the kids - perhaps suggest a pub / somewhere where kids can't go so it's clear you would like to see her without them. If you've also got kids, perhaps you could leave all of them in the care of someone else and have a proper catch up with wine / dinner / something just for the two of you?

I found it rude as well, but more than that.. I felt she didn't really care about me as I'd try and listen to her (mostly about the kids) and when I tried to talk to her about 'me', it was 'What's that Child #1? No, that's not the case, the sun is only out for 12 hours a day....' 'Oh hang on, Child #2 is picking up a worm... DON'T DO THAT CHILD #2' , 'I really don't know why Child #3 is grumping, perhaps she's teething?' Anyway... what were you saying? 'No Child #1, I really don't think you should be wearing your trousers on your head like that.... ' confused

MightTinge Mon 25-Mar-13 14:47:50

Her DC is about to turn two.

vladthedisorganised Mon 25-Mar-13 15:35:17

I agree that if it's the adult initiating it, that's pretty off.
I'm struggling with DD at the moment - between table manners ('sit nicely at the table until everyone has finished') and getting her to resist interrupting the adult conversation with some invented tale about crocodiles swimming up the river. If ignored, she just ups the volume ('wait your turn until Daddy and uncle N have finished talking')

I know the standard phone conversation with friends with DCs of the same age is usually "So did you get to see the house on Saturday? What was it li... Not just now, DC1, you can have one later. Go play with the garage. No, when I'm finished. I'm talking, go play with the garage. It's over there. Yes, you can reach the cars. When I'm finished.. Sorry, where was I? The house, yes.. what was it like?"

MajaBiene Mon 25-Mar-13 15:46:23

lisac - your examples seem quite reasonable to me and not at all rude. If you are trying to supervise young children then you do have to have one eye on what they are doing and break off sometimes to stop a worm being eaten. That's not the same at all as the OP's example of her friend basically ignoring her to play with her child.

LightTheLampNotTheRat Mon 25-Mar-13 15:52:14

YANBU. Agree DCs need to have an eye kept on them, but totally reasonable to expect them to (a) play - assuming you are in an environment where there are things for them to do, and (b) learn about not interrupting when people are talking. Even worse that it was the mother doing the interrupting! But I've never been an entertainer-mother (love that phrase btw!), and am always a bit baffled when in the presence of one.

whistleahappytune Mon 25-Mar-13 16:01:35

YANBU. This isn't just rude, it's completely bats! FFS, leave the little one alone for a bit and have an adult conversation. It's neurotic, needy and terribly unhealthy for parent and child.

everlong Mon 25-Mar-13 16:17:51

I don't get people like this. I always think they are a bit socially thick.
If your friend that you haven't seen in weeks is talking to you ( especially about something important ) you pissing listen!

Dinosaurhunter Mon 25-Mar-13 16:23:50

I can't stand this . It's so rude and annoying .

Feminine Mon 25-Mar-13 16:33:01

I have a friend like this.

I'm sick of stopping my sentences mid-way!

Apparently if there are other people with you, its a good idea to finish what you are saying to them instead.

Or...say " sorry, I'll wait till you can listen" wink

I just let my comments drift...

neunundneunzigluftballons Mon 25-Mar-13 16:37:07

Her child is still one and you want to engage the mother in deep chats about a very difficult event in your life and think that the child will entertain itself. I am sorry op you are going through a rough time but I definitely think you are being unreasonable and need to meet up without children once in a while

BuiltForComfort Mon 25-Mar-13 16:37:37

my ds (age 6!) does this and it drives me crazy. Am working very hard on trying to train him not to. not easy as I have to interrupt the conversation in order to speak to him to tell him not to interrupt!

perhaps her parents never taught her as a child not to interrupt? perhaps she isn't actually interested in anything you have to say? sad She doesn't sound like someone you want to meet with in the day time anyway, is she better at listening / conversing when kids aren't around?

MDA Mon 25-Mar-13 16:44:57

YANBU. I hate this kind of baby-brained shite. There is of course a balance to be had, as with most things!

MajaBiene Mon 25-Mar-13 16:59:52

neun, I definitely think a 1 year old should be able to entertain themselves for 5 minutes without a parent jumping all over them!

housefullofnoisykids Mon 25-Mar-13 17:07:38

I hate this! It's so rude! I stopped seeing an acquaintance a while back as she just did it constantly. I don't expect full on adult conversation when you meet up with the kids in tow, but this friend would just stop listening to me and start tickling her child, kissing him, singing with him, etc.

DH also sometimes starts doing something when I'm talking, such as reading the paper or flicking through the tv channels. I usually stop talking and look at him and then he stops what he's doing and looks at me and I carry on talking again.

MintyyAeroEgg Mon 25-Mar-13 17:10:37

Yanbu, although when I started a similar thread to this a few years ago a surprising number of mumsnetters thought iwbu!

Drives me insane. A friend of mine did this to the point where we gave up meeting for lunch as it was beyond boring to sit and be ignore whilst she played with her dd. It kind of came back to bite her on the bum as the poor kid was so unable to cope without mummy's constant attention she wasn't able to start school in the normal sense as she became hysterical when her mum left. My friend ended up having to sit in class with her for months to transition her in, which was a pain for both her and the poor teacher.

neunundneunzigluftballons Mon 25-Mar-13 17:17:17

I know what you are saying but I am sure the 1 year old can entertain itself for 5 minute they are just not the 5 minutes you choose. I personally would not be offended if my friend was entertaining their 1 year old when I was chatting to them sure it can be a pain in the ass but I do not see the child or the mum doing anything wrong.

housefullofnoisykids Mon 25-Mar-13 17:21:42

I think it depends on how it's done neunundneun

If the mum is still maintaining some eye contact with the talking friend, nodding, listening, whilst trying to jiggle a toy at the 1 year old or offer them some rice cakes then fair enough. Just cutting a friend off mid sentence to tickle/sing to/talk to a toddler is rude.

PurpleStorm Mon 25-Mar-13 18:42:15

neunundneun - from the way the OP has worded her posts, it sounds like the mum was initiating the toddler entertaining.

So not as if the toddler was coming over and demanding his mum's undivided attention, IYSWIM.

MightTinge Mon 25-Mar-13 18:50:50

Neun my child is exactly the same age and I manage to hold conversations.

So that kinda blows your theory out the water.

BackforGood Mon 25-Mar-13 19:34:47

Well I'm going against the grain. I have 3 dc. At just coming up to 2, 1 of them would have played quite happily for ages on her own, 1 would for a little bit, and 1 wouldn't have at all. I'd FAR rather play with him than end up being interupted by his crying or "investigating" something that would then need dealing with.
In all honestly, if I wanted to have a deep and meaningful chat with a friend, I'd arrange a time when her child wasn't with her - be that after bedtime or during nap time or by inviting her for a coffee or a spot of lunch when their Dad was watching the dc for a while.
Am actually amazed how many people think it's OK to ignore an under2, so you can get the full, undivided attention of his or her carer. Imagine the uproar if this were a CM or Nursery staff member {shock]

PS - I do think a Nanny can flick through a magazine when at a playbarn with a 3 yr old wink

MightTinge Mon 25-Mar-13 19:59:59

I do not ignore my toddler.

And its not about deep and meaningful conversations, its the vain attempt to have any conversation at all. Talking about the price of bread and she'd still turn her back on me, pick up her toddler and start blowing raspberries and giggling together.

Letting a toddler play with toys while chatting is not ignoring them. All you have to do is set them up with toys by your feet, and connect with them occasionally and everyones happy.

BackforGood Mon 25-Mar-13 20:16:53

Well, you are lucky that you have a toddler you can do that with. Not all toddlers are quite so co-operative to have their 'content to play on their own' time at a time that suits their Mother's friend.

Apologies if you don't think that's quite a big conversation, I was only going on what you put in your op
Id not seen her in weeks, she knew Id split from my partner so it was one of the first things she asked. I began to tell her confused

MajaBiene Mon 25-Mar-13 20:25:40

I know lots of people with toddlers, and we are able to hold conversations with each other at playgroups, in cafes or at each other's houses. I would be more surprised to meet someone who felt they had to play with their almost 2 year old constantly while in company. Surely if you would rather play with your child than chat to adults then you do that instead of meeting up with friends?

MintyyAeroEgg Mon 25-Mar-13 20:32:22

Dear Lord, I would have thought any fully-functioning adult would positively relish the chance to have some sort of adult conversation occasionally. If you don't work and your toddler is not at nursery then that is at the very least something like 90 hours a week you spend with them. If you can't give your friend a bit of attention for an hour or so then you are a pretty poor friend imvho.

SirChenjin Mon 25-Mar-13 20:35:38

Good grief, it's perfectly possible to hold an adult conversation in the presence of a toddler. It may be a bit disjointed while you get them a drink/change a nappy/wind up a toy etc, but honestly, how dull you must be if you feel the need to spend every waking moment entertaining your toddler whilst ignoring your adult friends.

everlong Mon 25-Mar-13 20:36:07

I've distanced myself from women like this. They bug the living hell out of me.

It makes me feel like I've got to say everything I've got to say all in 10 seconds whilst I've got her attention..

ChippingInIsEggceptional Mon 25-Mar-13 20:40:24

She's rude and socially inept. One of my friends is like this, I see a lot less of her now and try to do so when her toddler is at nursery or in bed or we plan to do something for/with the children for their enjoyment (so don't expect to actually have a conversation).

IfNotNowThenWhen Mon 25-Mar-13 20:49:14

I have a friend like this. It's more that she will break off mid sentence to me if one of her children speaks to her. Whereas I will hold up a hand to my ds and say "just a minute, I'm talking".
It IS rude, and very annoying.
I have had to be a hard nut about being interrupted, as it's just me and ds, so he is used to my mostly undivided attention and can be a bugger for interrupting, so I make sure I try and make him realise(and have done since toddlerhood) that I am actually allowed to talk to my friends/mum/the man from British Gas, without breaking off every 5 seconds.

Kiwiinkits Tue 26-Mar-13 00:53:58

Oh. I think I might be an Entertainer Mother shock

My DD (2.5) becomes more and more insistent and a pain in the arse if I say to her, Mummy is talking right now. Sometimes she plays happily, other times she really demands attention. Like the world is going to end if Mummy doesn't wind up her toy or something. So I use things like tickling or hugging or whatever to actually shut her up for long enough that I can listen to my friends speaking. Short of shutting her in a cupboard for 20 minutes I'm not sure what to do when she really, really, really wants to engage. She's pretty persistent! I thought that was pretty normal, for toddlers to think that they're the centre of the universe. Mine certainly does.

Cricrichan Tue 26-Mar-13 01:19:05


DH and SIL are like this and I sometimes want to throw something at them.

I have a friend who is a little like this but nothing like you've described.

I have 4 children and can hold a conversation whilst attending to their needs, but if they're interrupting I ask the children to wait.

crypes Tue 26-Mar-13 02:30:54

When my sisters and i had little babies and toddlers and were meeting up we could talk very in depth for probably four or five hours while making the kids lunch ,fetching drinks,painting,sitting in garden .I think the kids enjoyed our incessant chat actually .

Damash12 Tue 26-Mar-13 06:02:24

Yanbu - this really pisses me off. I have a friend like this and when her son was around 3 he'd constantly interrupt and a 5 min conversation would take an hour. Now he's 13 and it's bloody worse to the point of painful. She lives far away so I get to see her probably twice a year so we have a lot to chat about. When she comes to mine I make sure kids are in bed so we can have a good chat. The last time I went to hers he was allowed to stay up but the whole time he interrupted with "who's that?" "Why did he say that?" "what's that?" Aargh FFS you don't know the people or need to so fuck off to bed!!!!!! Sorry slipped into a rant there :-0
But yeah it's annoying.

echt Tue 26-Mar-13 06:43:28


I teach the teens who are the result of this kind of parenting: talk about me,me,me. Right now.

DD was always told: In a minute, and I always made sure it was.

I remember once when she was little she raised her hand at the dinner table to get her oar in. smile

Frogman Tue 26-Mar-13 07:48:46

Kiwiinkits - sounds like you've let your child think she's the "centre of the universe".

fluffyraggies Tue 26-Mar-13 08:12:04

My best mate and i have 3 children each, all one year apart. So in the early days we had 6 children with us when we met up - all under 6!

We had deep meaningful conversations non stop while tending to all our kids needs at the same time. Lunches, disputes, nappies, cuddles, rubs for bumped heads - never a break in the chit chat grin

It is possible. And - gasp - the kids suffered not a jot for not being the absolute center of our attention for a couple of hours.

I have a friend who has no kids. She loved/loves my DDs like nieces, but i could tell when they were little that she found it frustrating to have them around when she wanted a 'proper' conversation. She was used to adult only company and wanted 100% of me, not just 98%. She just wasn't used to being 2 people at once - friend and mother. I could hear her doing that stopping in mid sentence because she thought i wasn't listening thing while i was feeding baby or whatever. I used to think - oh grow up! I am listening! I just cant be looking right at you at the moment! Never said it though grin

MajaBiene Tue 26-Mar-13 08:41:55

Kiwi - surely it's your job to teach her she's not?

vladthedisorganised Tue 26-Mar-13 09:51:31

It's a long process though. I would think it would be very optimistic to suppose a 2yo could sit perfectly quietly for several hours with only a small 'pleasemayIgotothetoiletIneedaweemummy' every so often. Sure, it's the ideal, but it's not usually realistic. I know for instance that I can either have DD running around and playing with stuff (in my own house) and have an uninterrupted conversation; or have her sitting perfectly still and include her in the conversation from time to time (in other people's houses where there are no toys and lots of breakable things). Of course I bring toys, sticker books and colouring things with me, but that won't keep her happy for a whole afternoon.

I'm kind of with kiwi in that toddlers are inherently self-centred; even if we spend a lot of time teaching them to wait their turn and be quiet. I don't think it's a parenting failure if they think they are the centre of the universe at that stage, more so if they still do when they have the maturity for empathy.

I wouldn't be too happy at being brought to, say, DH's single friend's house, have them witter on about cycling for five straight hours, and have nothing to do but sit on the sofa looking straight ahead with nobody paying a blind bit of attention to me. TBH I think my having a long conversation about, say, employment regulations with my childless friends must feel much the same to a two year old.

MajaBiene Tue 26-Mar-13 11:19:11

No one has mentioned sitting quietly for hours, have they? I don't think that is even ideal. What would be normal is for the toddlers to play with the toys, the mothers chat, conversation is interrupted now and then to get drinks/wipes bums/soothe bumped heads. What isn't normal is for one mother to play with her child while ignoring the other mother.

vladthedisorganised Tue 26-Mar-13 11:25:13

Not at all Maja, sorry if I came across that way. I do think that a mother ignoring her friend to play with the child is bad manners; what I was disagreeing with was some of the comments directed at kiwi - my personal feeling is that it's more complicated than "your toddler thinks they're the centre of the universe because you've made it that way".

LaQueen Tue 26-Mar-13 11:28:15


Sadly, a lot of people have really crap social skills, and don't realise how ignorant they're being. I've known women who are like that, and to be honest I just stopped seeing them, because I didn't enjoy the experience.

I've brought up our DDs to wait, before interupting me if I'm speaking to someone else, unless it's really urgent. But, as others have said I've never been an Entertainer Mum, and am nonplussed by those who are.

I once went on a play-date, expecting the kids to play while me and the Mum drank coffee and chatted, and ate our own weight in biscuits...instead, the Mum expected us all to get down on the carpet and play with the kids, the whole time...sing songs, play with teddies, build a train track, look through books...I was like, WTAF hmm

Didn't go back there again.

mindosa Tue 26-Mar-13 14:47:52

This is a pet hate of mine.

I have a friend who revels in the fact that her children cling to her and need her all the time. She recoils when she hears me say 'Mummys speaking'

I am hands up not great at the whole getting on the floor and playing imaginary games type of thing. I will read to them, speak to them, cook with them, go to museums, parks etc but I just hate building blocks, barbies etc
I think today that makes me a bad mum - Oh well.

MamaBear17 Tue 26-Mar-13 14:52:37

I think it is rude. My mum does this with my dd. She 'mmmm's to everything I say; I know she isnt hearing a word!

quesadilla Tue 26-Mar-13 17:56:10

It depends on the degree... It's impossible to shut out a toddler completely if s/he wants your attention but actively stimulating a child and encouraging him or her to play when you are obviously wanting to talk is quite rude.

ditziness Tue 26-Mar-13 18:15:06

I have a friend like this who I can't meet up with anymore because I just feel so ignored the whole time. She also completely dominates whatever we're doing with her toddler's schedule, even though I've got a three year old and a 10 month old. So if we're sitting having a coffee, she'll suddenly announce that she has to leave and walk as her toddler needs his nap and will only nap in the buggy. So I either have to drag my two with her, or let her leave. And the whole time she's constantly talking to him. And if I do manage to have a conversation with her then it's usually about her son. If I ever talk about my two, or myself she kinds states blankly. Does my head in.

My sister's like it too on the phone. Sometimes I'll need to hang up on her as she literally spends 75% of the phone call talking to her kids! Drives me mental

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