Should I say something to friend or smile sweetly and let it go? (Long, sorry)

(72 Posts)
quesadilla Mon 01-Jul-13 13:13:10

Old friend (have posted about her before) who is child free and not very keen on kids, to put it mildly. I had my dd fairly late in life and we had some teething problems with her adjusting to the fact I am a parent: kicking off about my having to cancel things when dd was very sick, making no bones about the fact she can't stand hearing about people's kids etc. We had a bit of a rough time but have come out the other side and generally have a workable compromise: she accommodates the fact I have to put my family first, I have accepted she will probably never play a part in my dds life and keep discussion about my dd to a minimum.

The problem is recently she seems to be channelling some of this previous negativity into lots of very negative remarks about parenthood in general in in her work in particular in a way that I think is about to sabotage her at work. She is working on a project with another woman who has two kids. She feels that this woman is basically not up to the job as a direct result of having kids. Obviously I can't judge this woman's competence, let alone comment on her family set up, but I find this judgemental and occasionally sexist. She says things like how entitled she thinks this woman is because she basically doesn't work weekends, every time she thinks the woman isn't pulling her weight she slips in remarks like "that's what you get for working with mums." Recently she said she had given this woman a dressing down about some perceived failing and said she had told her: "if you are going to do this job for me properly you are going to have to be a bad mother for a while." I was speechless at this: I felt like saying that if my dream employer said this to me I would tell them to piss off on the spot.

It's tricky for me: I don't want to trigger another argument about this topic: it's clearly very sensitive for her, the last few rows we had about it were explosive and very upsetting so I don't want to reawaken an old argument and I want a quiet life. And I doubt she will listen.

On the other hand some of it is downright offensive: I wouldn't sit through that sort of sexist bile from a male colleague so dont see why I should tolerate it from a close (female) friend who calls herself a feminist.

And also I don't think she is doing herself any favours like this: she has a long history of falling out with colleagues and employers because of her lack of tact and I fear this woman is on the point of throwing in the towel on this project (potentially taking financial backers with her) because she is clearly not feeling appreciated by my friend and presumably having to deal with remarks like this isn't helping. It may sound sanctimonious but I genuinely feel that she needs to be told for her own good how much damage she could do to her own business.

Should I tell her that she can't get away with talking like a 1970s police chief and risk another apocalyptic argument, or should I just stay out and let her dig herself further into a hole?

SmiteYouWithThunderbolts Mon 01-Jul-13 13:16:05

Unless you work with her, I would stay out of it. It doesn't sound like she would take it very well even if you were very diplomatic about raising it with her. At best, you'll lose a friend and she'll carry on being an arsehole at work. At worst, she'll take it as vindication that women with kids are soft in the head and she'll just become even more unbearable.

I would struggle to remain friends with someone like that though. She sounds deeply unpleasant.

I would smile sweetly and let her go.

She sounds hardwork, why would you want to sustain this friendship?

Tee2072 Mon 01-Jul-13 13:21:31

Why are you friends with this woman?

If I was the woman who had to listen to her go on about my children, I am fairly sure I'd have a case for a hostile work environment.

Mention that to your so called friend. Not that it will stop her. People like that always think they know best.

TheVermiciousKnid Mon 01-Jul-13 13:23:00

You know, I'm getting the impression (and I could be wrong!) that she knows very well that you are trying hard to 'keep the peace' and are reluctant to have another explosive row with her, and she is pushing you further and further, thinking you won't react - and if you do it will no doubt be your fault! If you don't say anything, she is likely to come out with more and more outrageous comments. If you do say something it might lead to another row. What you do really depends on how much you value your friendship.

To be honest, I would find it very hard to remain friends with somebody with that attitude.

Your friend sounds awful to be around.

Stay out of her work issues and let her deal with the consequences of being an insufferable bully.

What does she bring as a friend, just out of interest?

MooncupGoddess Mon 01-Jul-13 13:23:18

Well, it is her problem, but she is certainly shooting herself in the foot, so if I was feeling kind I might try to warn her.

Honestly though, does she have enough good qualities to make it worth putting up with this sort of bitter nastiness?

quesadilla Mon 01-Jul-13 13:25:29

Thunderbolts I know she sounds awful on paper, but she can be really lovely and we go back over 20 years. I have wondered seriously about letting her go but was impressed that she made a big effort to put some of these demons behind her. I just feel that as a matter of principle I can't let someone get away with the sort of remark that a male colleague would be fired for.

MortifiedAdams Mon 01-Jul-13 13:25:51

Gosh she is lucky that this woman hasnt made a formal complaint about her.

She must have some utterly remarkable redeeming features in order for you to be able to overlook what a massive twat face she is.

SisterMatic Mon 01-Jul-13 13:26:10

Let her go.
Not liking kids is one thing, plenty of people dont and choose not to have any. That is fine.
but to have that reaction that your friend has to you talking about your children is abhorrent. You should be able to talk to a friend about anything.

WhoNickedMyName Mon 01-Jul-13 13:27:03

She sounds like she's constantly poking you with a stick, trying, for some bizzare reason to get a reaction from you.

I'd smile sweetly, let it go... and let the friendship go.

Pigsmummy Mon 01-Jul-13 13:27:24

Don't get involved, it's not your battle and you know just head strong your friend is. If you want to maintain the relationship let it go.

You have to let her make her own mistakes, if her behaviour does bite her on the backside then so be it.

WhatWillSantaBring Mon 01-Jul-13 13:28:36

If you've had to compromise on not talking about DD, then perhaps (politely) tell her that you would rather not listen to her making complaints about working with mothers. If you want to save the friendship then qualify it by sympathising with how hard it must be to work with someone who you don't feel is putting in enough effort, but that you would prefer not to hear about her feelings on her colleagues parental status as you feel that line of argument is immaterial. Someone is either good or crap at their job - whether they have children/elderly parents/an infirm partner is all the same and should have no baring on their professional abilities.

However, she sounds like a toxic friend. I know how hard it is to let them go (speak from experience) so I don't think you have to make a big thing of it, just let her drift out of your life. She sounds most unpleasant!!

quesadilla Mon 01-Jul-13 13:29:30

Tee maybe that's the way to go: keep everything very dry and factual and just warn her that those sorts of remarks in a corporate setting would probably get her fired.

OctopusPete8 Mon 01-Jul-13 13:32:36

She sounds like a complete arsewipe at best,

It is not normal for childless women to be that hostile to children/families, I almost wonder can she have kids etc is there more to her behaviour?

I would cut ties with her she sounds crazy and I would tell her why.

quoteunquote Mon 01-Jul-13 13:33:33

I would tell her very directly, but I am like that, and everyone knows to be careful what they say in front of me, because I will take them through the issue until they can think logically,

and no amount of hissy fitting will deter me making sure they understand the error of their ways.

I never let people get away with this type of crap, because it erodes my community, and I am unable to store non processed information, so I have to tackle it at source.

she sounds deeply unhappy, i hope she realises soon her behaviour is the cause of this, for her own sake, and before she loses all support.

WildlingPrincess Mon 01-Jul-13 13:36:20

I'd give her a talking too, and then let her go. She clearly has some severe issues!

Give her a copy of the Equality Act FFS

quesadilla Mon 01-Jul-13 13:40:54

Octopus this is the thing: I am conscious that there may be deep seated unhappiness about not having had kids which is why I am reluctant to let her have both barrels. She has never really talked about it and I haven't probed.

Up to a point I am willing to be sensitive to this: I dread being a baby bore and I don't want to inadvertently come across as smug.

But I think even if I were childless I wouldn't be able to deal with the insinuation that every woman who has reproduced is basically a soft, hormonal jelly who can't do a day's work on make a decision on her own.

I think I will have to say something just as a matter of principle.

NicknameTaken Mon 01-Jul-13 13:51:35

I'd probably say something to her framed in legal rather than moral terms, eg. "You know that if you say things like that, you could end up in legal trouble at work".

I'd be quite matter-of-fact, and not even connect it to her attitude to your child. I'd say it once and that's it.

NicknameTaken Mon 01-Jul-13 13:54:20

Although as I understand the Equality Act, it just refers to pregnancy and maternity, as in the period covered by maternity leave. It doesn't protect mothers (or fathers) with children older than about one. Happy to be corrected if anyone knows better. If I'm right, I think it's a pretty major gap.

NicknameTaken Mon 01-Jul-13 13:55:55

Actually, according to this the protection doesn't extend past 26 weeks of giving birth.

quesadilla Mon 01-Jul-13 14:02:55

Nickname its also complicated by the fact that she is basically self employed and effectively the boss of this other woman, so she isn't going to be fired as such.

let it go, to be honest its nothing to do with you and it is hard to do a project with people that have children and cant be available at weekends and after hours, she will never understand. My ex boss recently apologised to me for not realising how hard it was to work and be a mum, 17 years later mind you but got there in the end.

My children are teenagers now but I a friend who never had children and really did not like children but im glad I struggled to maintain that relationship away from my family as she is still a great friend now and in fact now my kids are teenagers she is much more involved with them in a bad influence auntie type of way, if that makes sense.

NicknameTaken Mon 01-Jul-13 14:19:48

I get you, but "legal trouble" is broad enough to cover situations like a complaint to EHRC or an employment tribunal etc. The woman in question may not do so, but your friend is leaving herself open to it.

And I suggest framing it in these terms more as a way of trying to keep it objective and keep emotion out of it.

Hullygully Mon 01-Jul-13 14:21:37

Could you frame it differently? Tell her about someone who has got in big trouble for doing what she is doing? Tell in a wide eyed it couldn't possibly have anything to do with her own situation kind of way?

quesadilla Mon 01-Jul-13 14:51:14

Hully yeah I could. I am sure she sort of knows this anyway. It's hard to avoid the feeling that she is trying to get across the idea that she is doing it to needle me because she knows explicit anti-kid rhetoric won't be tolerated.

Hullygully Mon 01-Jul-13 15:05:34

Of course she is.

She is seething with suppressed ISHOOS, they have to come out one way or another.

But if you think she really is saying this stuff to a woman at work (and she may not be), and if you are genuinely concerned she might get in trubs, then that's a way to alert her.

NicknameTaken Mon 01-Jul-13 15:27:41

If she implies that you're a baby bore, why can't you imply (or say straight out) that she's being a work bore? Why do you want to hear her chunter on about work anyway?

Either your friendship is strong enough that you've stuff to talk about except children and work, or else it's not and why bother?

Wylye Mon 01-Jul-13 15:29:50

Maybe you could phrase it in a "It's a good job you're self-employed, comments like that would have you strung up in a normal company!".
That way she can laugh it off if she chooses, but you've made your comment.

Tbh she doesn't sound like much fun tho, I'd cool it off and see if she could be bothered to show some interest in you as a friend rather than as a sounding board for her vicious comments.

Wylye Mon 01-Jul-13 15:30:39

Comment comment comment, must find my thesaurus... blush

MyShoofly Mon 01-Jul-13 15:43:26

she sounds unpleasant, but if you want to keep the friendship than I would tell her maybe you two shouldnt talk about her work anymore as obviously you have differing views on women who have children and wouldn't like to get into another argument about it. agree to disagree so to speak. I'd just say it in a matter of fact manner and be done with it.

if you can...I couldn't personally not say something but I'm adversarial that way

Branleuse Mon 01-Jul-13 15:56:23

she sounds very unpleasant

Self employed or not, you say this other woman has financial backing which your friend will lose if she walks. Can you approach it from that angle?

And have you tried laughing at her mad opinions?

quesadilla Mon 01-Jul-13 16:02:42

Nickname I am not a baby bore and she knows it -- I only ever talk about my dd from a practical or circumstantial point of view ("I have to pick up dd" is about all she gets.) I have always been punctilious about this.

It seems to have gone beyond this and now seems to be a more or less generalised attack on mothers, and I just worry that she is going to alienate people.

Hullygully Mon 01-Jul-13 16:05:49

you can't do anything quesadilla

I have a friend who pisses people off all the time. If I try and tell her why she cries and accuses me of attacking her.

you have to let them dig their own graves sadly

quesadilla Mon 01-Jul-13 16:07:44

Bear yes I think that's the way to go: they are on the point of finding out whether they have got a big chunk of funding and if this woman walks my friend probably won't be able to raise the cash on her own,

I am just going to point out that she needs to keep her onside.

quesadilla Mon 01-Jul-13 16:09:21

Hully wonder if we know the same person smile

Hullygully Mon 01-Jul-13 16:10:58

No, my friend doesn't have baby ishoos!

EldritchCleavage Mon 01-Jul-13 16:13:22

Don't work so hard to keep the friendship that you end up lying down and letting her walk all over you though.

youvegottabekiddingme Mon 01-Jul-13 16:17:51

Maybe she desperately wants a child but can't and doesn't want to share her feelings about it. so she's behaving like this to cover up her own sadness and despair

NicknameTaken Mon 01-Jul-13 16:48:28

Not saying you are a baby bore at all! I thought I read you as saying that she implied this. Have tangled myself up in pronouns, but not meaning to insult you at all!

quesadilla Mon 01-Jul-13 17:06:56

youvegottobekiddingme this has occurred to me but I think it's more complex than that. I am pretty sure she has never desperately wanted a child as she has had opportunities in the past and passed them up, so to speak.

It is possible that she just feels very isolated though; almost all of our friendship group and all her other close friends have had kids now. She is quite a social animal and thrives on the sorts of group scenarios which are harder to organize when you are single and your friends are coupled and settled,

This is why I want to tread quite carefully and not be a bitch by saying that she doesn't understand what it's like to have children etc. But I don't want to become a punchbag for her angst and tolerate lots of really unsavoury remarks as a result.

JamieandtheMagicTorch Mon 01-Jul-13 17:20:14


I think that if you think she's trying to needle you you need to decide whether its worth calling her on it, or (my preference) decide she's too much hard work. But then I'm surprised she hasn't alienated you yet. Perhaps you are more tolerant than me.

IneedAsockamnesty Mon 01-Jul-13 17:36:26

Your friend is a bully with a attitude that could bankrupt her,why bother?

Solari Mon 01-Jul-13 17:54:56

I honestly couldn't remain friends with someone like this.

Not liking kids is one thing, but literally wanting nothing to do with or hear about your DD, ever? That's very extreme, and I wouldn't be able to "feel the love" from someone who would so happily expect me to compartmentalise my daughter out of my life when with her.

It would have been a deal-breaker before we ever got to that compromise. Not judging you at all (sorry, can sound too harsh sometimes), but I couldn't do it.

tobiasfunke Mon 01-Jul-13 18:21:32

I had a friend like this. She was just totally unreasonable when I had a child. Deep down it came down to the fact that she was probably jealous of her friends that had children so went so far the other way to show that being a mother had turned us into awful human beings and only she had made the right decision. She had actively made the decision not to have kids so I think it was like reassuring herself that she done the right thing whilst making her friends feel awful. The unreasonableness and nastiness became unbearable so I quietly dropped her after 20 years.

quesadilla Mon 01-Jul-13 18:37:28

tobias you've basically summarised the way I privately feel but haven't got the guts to express.

foslady Mon 01-Jul-13 19:00:47

I think I would have to let this friendship go, too. I would just say the next time she starts that you are deeply offended by her attitude, and in by keeping up her stance has become the non parent equivalent of baby bore and that you think your friendship needs space. If it means anything to her, she'll be back

persimmon Mon 01-Jul-13 19:06:28

I have a friend with whom I rarely mention my DS; she is childless mainly by being in a relationship with a chronic alcoholic for 10 years.

persimmon Mon 01-Jul-13 19:07:30

...oops.. meant to say that while she doesn't make openly negative comments about mums, I know that it's too sensitive a subject for her. However, she isn't a rude, bullying twonk like your friend.

theboutiquemummy Mon 01-Jul-13 19:12:55

She sounds horrid but she may have some underlying prob actually not having any children herself "she protesteth too much"

However I'd back off from the friendship n let the shit hit the fan which it will eventually n when she calls you to be a character witness "oh but my best friend has children" politely decline

Wuldric Mon 01-Jul-13 19:16:30

I used to have this problem with DH. And frankly, it was a problem. He would sound off relentlessly about a solicitor in his team who had four children (that's 4 maternity leaves he had to cover) and then allegedly clockwatched and generally took the piss for the next ten years.

His tune changed remarkably once he had children. It's just ignorance tbh. People without children have no concept of the commitment involved, and the fact that that commitment is primary, and has to be primary.

To be honest, her attitudes and behaviour in the workplace are none of your business and of course you must not say anything. I suspect you are still smarting because of her treatment of you. Just smile and nod. She will learn either the hard way or the easy way. Or she won't learn at all and that will be the hardest way.

Dubjackeen Mon 01-Jul-13 19:17:15

I would be inclined to let the friendship go. To say she sounds like hard work, is putting it very mildly in my view. I am sure there are people who don't like children, and that is their own choice, but she is actively unpleasant, by the sound of it, to you, her friend, for having the 'cheek' to have a child. She is behaving disgracefully towards that colleague, unless she is actually making up the stuff, to see how far she can push things with you? She could easily find herself at the wrong side of a bullying allegation, with that sort of behaviour. One part of me, if I were you, would be tempted to let her continue to walk herself right into it. I guess I might give one last try, in whatever way you decide, and if she doesn't take the hint, I'd leave her to it.

motownmover Mon 01-Jul-13 19:30:56

I could not put up with such nonsense. "That's what you get for working for mums" that would be it for me - hate hate hate generalisations. I'd quickly tell her to concentrate on her own performance.

I've had children and have worked more than full time and I really resent people who make it hard for parents in the work place. I remember once my son was ill so I dragged him into my office to pick up work to take home to catch up over the weekend. My son was ill and sleeping and when he was better I worked all Sunday. But my boss got a complaint saying that people complained about the interruption and noise in the office from my son - who slept! I have only ever had 1 day off due to my son's illness and I made it up but I think shitty comments from people like your friend are common.

Your friend also probably doesn't have life balance as who would really want to work weekends unless they really had to.

Being bitter because a work colleague who does not work weekends is just plain weird to me.

And what the hell is wrong with people not putting in overtime. The mind boggles!!!

motownmover Mon 01-Jul-13 19:31:35

Wuldric I am glad your DH changed his attitude!

kiwigirl42 Mon 01-Jul-13 19:44:08

she sounds like a nasty bully actually. Find yourself some friends who like you as you are instead of you having to tiptoe around them.
It doesn't matter whether you've known her for 20 yrs or 10 minutes really.

foreverondiet Mon 01-Jul-13 20:49:23

I couldn't be friends with someone like this - and I have experienced similar at work - luckily I found a new (better job) very easily and then I told the ultimate boss that I was leaving due to bullying by immediate boss and that he should be relieved I found new job as it saved me the effort of legal action.

If you do want to continue to be friends maybe say something like - that its an acceptable way to talk to someone in the work place, she'll be feeling awful but it won't encourage her to spend more time at work and less time with her kids so ultimately nothing good will come of your bullying.

Belchica Mon 01-Jul-13 20:59:27

OP, what exactly are the redeeming features of this 'friend' who has been so gracious as to allow you to remain her friend since becoming a parent, but on her terms which require you to practically pretend your DC does not exist!? i cant think of any friend of mine who is good enough to merit 'keeping discussions of my DC to a minimum'!!!!

And what a cheek she has telling her co worker be a bad mother to get the job done. what exactly qualifies her to know what being a good or bad mother comes down to? Your friend sounds like a deluded spoilt brat who is used to getting her own way....keep being her friend and you simply facilitate her pathetic behaviour. And I'm not suggesting she needs to be involved in your child's life, but a good friend will be happy and excited for you, keen to hear about your DC from time to time, or even see them. A true friend would be happy you have moved into a new chapter and embrace that.

I don't think you should get involved in her work situation because even if you offer some gentle friendly advice it seems certain she will go mad at you and accuse you of bringing your family/parent status into your friendship....and she has after all banned you from that...

tigerlilygrr Tue 02-Jul-13 12:29:31

It is pretty cut and dried... You can't criticise colleagues for being parents. I hope someone with hr knowledge comes on to the thread to confirm this but I am pretty sure a female colleague would have some grounds for a sexual harassment case (because sexual harassment is interpreted extremely broadly by employment tribunals). Absolutely not saying she would win or anything, but I would say she has grounds for a strongly worded letter to hr, for example, that they'd take notice of.

As her friend I would say to her that I was concerned she's jeopardising her position at work. Whether or not there's an underlying psychological distress behind thus is kind if beside the point, if I was risking my job / good standing / promotion orospects and I could change my ways, i'd certainly want to know!

ProphetOfDoom Tue 02-Jul-13 12:43:35

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

StuntGirl Tue 02-Jul-13 12:58:03

This woman is not your friend.

Scruffey Tue 02-Jul-13 13:01:12

Another who agrees this woman isn't your friend. I would just gradually reduce contact and keep out if her work situation.

UC Tue 02-Jul-13 13:04:10

Only read the first page, so apologies if this has been covered/it's moved on.

As your friend is the boss, she needs to be very careful. If her employee leaves, she could potentially sue your friend for constructive dismissal.

Your friend sounds very unpleasant.

"It's hard to avoid the feeling that she is trying to get across the idea that she is doing it to needle me because she knows explicit anti-kid rhetoric won't be tolerated."
SO you already KNOW in your guts that all her poison is really an attack on YOU, personally.

Why do you still consider this woman a friend? When you said " I know she sounds awful on paper, but she can be really lovely and we go back over 20 years" I immediately thought of an abusive partner, cycling between nice and nasty to keep their plaything partner destabilised and attached. Have you considered that she might be just the same? Being "really lovely" often enough so that you'll stay around and be her punchbag for whatever ails her soul? Is that what you really want to continue?

I hope this emloyee-woman walks and takes her funding with her.

daisychain01 Tue 02-Jul-13 13:48:44

Quesadilla When any relationship gets to the stage where there is so little 'feel good factor' - either life paths have diverged in opposite directions, or just because the friendship has gone past its sell by date - then its time to acknowledge that (if only privately, rather than some big announcement that will cause distress) and let things go. All that festering, feeling p'ed off every time the person ends up hitting that hot button (be it about children, money or whatever). It cant be good for you. And its taking up too much of that headspace better devoted to the people you really chime with.

As for her negative behaviour towards people with children, whats the point in getting fed up. She sounds resolutely in the camp of "its my opinion and Im not going to budge!" Brigade. You will never change her by saying anything! Sorry if this sounds absolute. I dont want it to seem like "lazy thinking" to say dont bother, its just from what you say, it has gone on far too long.

I think many of us, me included, have continued friendships way beyond the time they give us joy, because of habit, tradition, past shared history rather than what they should be about, which is happy - even if diverse -exchanges and interactions.

Good luck!

LemonPeculiarJones Tue 02-Jul-13 13:52:45

Hey OP

Knowing your friend for 20 years is irrelevant.
If you met her today you wouldn't want to be her friend, hearing her dismiss, undermine and criticise her colleague in that way.

And every time she criticises her colleague she is also taking the opportunity to criticise, belittle and attack you.

Don't keep people in your life out of sentimentality. Especially if they treat you like crap.

JamieandtheMagicTorch Tue 02-Jul-13 18:15:17

"This is just another way or circumventing your 'agreement' to criticise you for having a child"

Excellent summary Schmalzing

And that's not any friends I'd want to have, really.

Don't care about her issues.

JamieandtheMagicTorch Tue 02-Jul-13 18:15:35

any friend

Does she dish out the same vitriol to working fathers? If not, then she is attacking this women for a characteristic that only applies to women i.e. being a mother. She could be on very thin ice.

sittinginthesun Tue 02-Jul-13 18:29:46

I think hanging onto this friendship is unhealthy, tbh. People do move apart when their circumstances change - it is natural.

Your life has changed, and I find it absolutely crazy that you can have a close friendship where you feel awkward about discussing your child. Nothing to do with being a baby bore, your life and priorities have just changed.

It's the same at work - if you are a working parent, then you are a working parent! Why pretend otherwise. It doesn't stop you doing your job, or being a productive employee or colleague.

I get quite cross about this. I think you need to be honest, and true to yourself, rather than tiptoe around her. If she slags off her work colleague, and you feel she has overstepped the line, then tell her.

And talk about your dd. if it annoys your friend, she will just have to live with it!

quesadilla Tue 02-Jul-13 23:34:02

Yes I think those of you saying I should let her go are probably right. Other mutual friends with children have basically cut ties. I guess knowing someone a long time can really cloud one's judgement.

For the last few months I have tried to keep things on a more distant and less emotional footing, maybe I just need to speed it up and disengage emotionally.

Thanks all...

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