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advice please! problems with 9 year old daughter's friends

(38 Posts)
suzanski Wed 21-Nov-12 14:00:17

Hi everyone. This is my first post, so please be gentle My daughter has always been a bit "different" - I think this could be down to her having a serious neurological condition in her nursery years, and missing out on that crucial socialisation time. I do think that now she has improved, and seems to be able to get on with her peers OK.

However, her school class is rather peculiar, with 21 boys and only half that number of girls, leaving a small friendship pool. The girls are cliquey, and my girl is in a loose group with maybe 5 others. I thought I was good friends with a couple of the mums of the girls in her group, but I'm beginning to doubt that now.

I called my "friend" one day when I overheard her daughter be really mean to mine, and she said she felt that her daughter didn't really like mine, and was "neutral" towards her. I had thought they were friends, and she has been at my house to play, I have babysat for her, and we have spent time together at weekends- I am gutted, and as you can imagine am feeling "neutral" if not "negative" towards the mum!

Another of her friends, whose mum I get on with OK, seems to be cooling off towards her too (and being more friendly with the girl above...) and when I asked if she would like to go to an event with us, her mum said to leave it as she didn't think the girls were getting on that well. I am Gobsmacked that someone would actually write that down, as I try very hard to treat people well, but it raises the question about my daugyter's friendship with this girl too.

This leaves her with hardly any friendship opportunities in the class, apart from a very disruptive girl from a troubled background and one girl who is nice and loyal too (although friendly with girl B above).

My question for you is....do these mums think that my daughter is not a suitable playmate for their girls? Or do they not like ME, and are trying to hurt my feelings? What should I do?

My daughter says she still plays with girl B every day, but she is sick of me asking questions about friends, and I get the feeling she's not telling me everything. She is at the childminder with girl A once a week, but they didn't play together yesterday.

I don't know how to help my daughter, if there is a real problem with her getting on with the girls at school.Please don't suggest I talk to her teacher, because she doesn't get involved in issues like this - she is a great teacher, but has made this clear. My daughter doesn't seem to lack confidence, but perhaps I should be thinking about building her up?

Wit's end with this -just feel like moving away somewhere else where she can make new friends without all this hassle. And me too

rocamadour Sat 01-Dec-12 09:30:23

Quite ! There's a strong agreement here. OP we're trying to help, not gang up on you, honestly. My niece is 10 and my sister tells me there's a similar dynamic at her school - the child concerned seems quite happy (ish) but the mum hovers and steps in eg phoning other parents to complain about slights, and can be overpowering in her attempts to get the other girls into her daughters friendship group; it's off putting. Not saying you are that lady op, more that it's a common scenario, found universally un appealing ! Keep it light and easy for your daughters sake.

FellatioNelson Sat 01-Dec-12 04:46:14

Is the OP still there? confused I think perhaps she didn't like our advice much. confused

Mumsyblouse Fri 30-Nov-12 12:05:18

And- remember in a couple of years, your daughter will be moving onto another school and making a whole set of new friends. I am sympathetic with you that your dd is in a class with few opportunities for friends, one of mine is too, for the same reason, but I wouldn't move her just for that if she seemed reasonably happy.

Mumsyblouse Fri 30-Nov-12 12:01:27

Everyone has already said what I was thinking about you needing to sit back a bit unless your daughter is actively unhappy (and even then, I would be concerned about bullying, but not the natural shifting of friendships).

Also, I would be really annoyed if someone called me about my daughter's behaviour unless it was very extreme or problematic, and I probably would suggest as the mum did, that if the girls aren't getting on, they should keep away from each other (I would also then avoid the mum as well, sorry to say).

I would also say that I have noticed a real shift in friendships around aged 9, and lots of the mums I've spoken to have said their children have had the odd tears or come back reporting 'broken friendships' at this age, it seems to be a difficult age especially for girls and bonds are made and broken more quickly than in the younger years.

We all agree though- they need to work it out for themselves, with a bit of helpful advice and a sympathetic ear from mum, unless there is bullying or deep unhappiness. If your daughter is a bit different (mine is too), then having one or two good friends and being happy at school is just fine, you don't need hundreds of friends and you do need to stop calling people or questioning why their children don't want to play with yours anymore. Things change and it seems your daughter is coping better with it than you.

rocamadour Fri 30-Nov-12 11:17:05

I'm afraid it comes across like you're trying to hard. Your daughter sounds relaxed about her friendship group; I'd leave her to it and not worry about socialising with the mums. you can't necessarily expect them to be your "friends". Nice if it happens that way but you can't force it. And "ouch" at the idea of phoning another mum to complain about her daughter's behaviour towards yours. Sorry but that sort of conversation is never going to go down well. If you feel that you need more friends why don't you take up a hobby ?or evening class; learn a language, photography, computing skills, whatever your interested in. By the way do you have other children ? I don't want to sound insensitive but possibly you're putting to much focuss on your daughter and projecting your own needs through her.

suzyrut Fri 30-Nov-12 10:35:44

sorry just realised that sounded a bit harsh. I should have added that despite all I've said of course it's natural to worry but I'm sure she's absolutely fine!

suzyrut Fri 30-Nov-12 10:33:30

Hi OP,

My dd is 9 and is in a class with 8 other girls and 9 boys. Though she has a set of friends of a similar size exacty who is friends with whom changes daily!
There is one girl who seems to control the group and my daughter and I talk about what it's ok and not ok to say to other people etc. but I honestly believe unless I saw a noticable change in behavior e.g. she becomes withdrawn, didn't want to go to school etc. you need to draw the line at that.

You can't possibly know what's occuring on a day to day basis and I can undertand why the teacher won't get involved unless it comes to a situation where someone is actually being bullied as theyd have no time for anything else!

MariaMandarin Fri 30-Nov-12 09:44:08

I agree that this situation does not sound too bad on the evidence here. Your daughter has one nice friend that she plays with every day. She is confident and not unhappy. This is probably how she likes things and I suspect you are projecting your idealised view of her having a large friendship group on to her. I expect the teacher does not want to get involved because there is no real issue to be dealt with.

Whocansay Fri 30-Nov-12 08:34:20

You have no idea what's going on here. Your daughter could be being bullied, but equally, she may be a bully herself, which would explain why the others are backing off.

I suggest asking the school how they are getting on there. Either way, you cannot force them to be friends and would back off. You do sound like you're becoming one of those mothers...

BalloonSlayer Fri 30-Nov-12 08:29:15

Sorry to say this OP but this: I called my "friend" one day when I overheard her daughter be really mean to mine might be at the root of it.

It looks like you are "that Mum" who calls her DC's friends' parents to complain when the DCs don't get on. That makes people avoid you.

There is a mum like that at my DCs' school. I avoid her like the plague and would not encourage my DCs to be friends with hers (although of course I would not DIScourage it either). What I mean is that they used to be friends years ago, aren't really now but it really isn't a friendship I am going to try to revive. I really can't be doing with being complained to every time the DCs fall out.

OpheliaPayneAgain Fri 30-Nov-12 07:33:28

And I do apologise for the fuckwitted typing - my fingers are cold

OpheliaPayneAgain Fri 30-Nov-12 07:32:40

Primary relationships are driven by parents. Just because you and the otehr mum get along, are indeed froiends does not mean your children have to be. they grow and develop in differnt directions.

Every parent will manage their child to the best of their ability - you by encouraging friendships, the other mothers by supporting their daughters in their friendship choices.

The girls have reached a point where friendships are either cemented for life or diverge becasue there is nothing in common other than their parents being friends.

It is not ok to isolate them or encourage others to do so or say mean things and spred rumours etc. It is ok to not like someone, that is free choice.

We can't all be pretty, popular and liked. That is a fact of life unfortunately, otherwise we would all be barbie-doll clones.

My daughter has always been a bit "different" how different? Those differences do become apparent as we get older. We no longer conform, and children do like conformity, as it represents security to them.

The best advice you have been given is to enrole her in a group such a guides or brownies, or a perhaps a sport, where she will find other children with a common interest and then develop her own friends.

Trying to manufacture friendships within school just won't work.

FellatioNelson Fri 30-Nov-12 07:18:23

never mind, not need mind. confused

FellatioNelson Fri 30-Nov-12 07:17:43

By the sounds of things you already have tried to involve the teacher in the past over your insecurities about your daughter's friends, and quite rightly the teacher does not want to get bogged down in petty squabbles between the children, need mind the parents!

I've re-read your post and it really does sound as if you are very quick to take offence, and that you possibly imagine slights against you/DD when there are none. You seem to be taking everything way too personally. Just because a child feels 'neutral' about yours does not mean that you should feel indignant and furious with her mother!

The trouble is, if you go steaming in wanting explanations from people all the time, or phone another mum every time you hear their child say something that you perceive to be unkind to your child (whether it was meant that way or not) they will start to avoid you as you will be seen as just too high maintenance. Just lighten up a bit. Don't let your social insecurities start to rub off on your DD. She seems to be doing fine as she is.

3bunnies Fri 30-Nov-12 06:30:40

Is she an only child? I can appreciate why you might want her to have friends over/ go to events etc, but generally I don't think dd1, a year younger, would want to go out for a trip with someone she wasn't getting on with. We are also quite busy as a family, and with no spaces in the car couldn't reciprocate. Dd1 is a compassionate child, so probably would play with someone who was lonely even if she didn't want to socialise outside of school.

I agree with another poster about looking to the boys too. Dd2 was more socially awkward going into reception, she has clicked though with one boy in particular, and while I am not sure the friendship will survive to yr5, it has given her loads of confidence. I think she finds the boys a bit less complicated when trying to understand the politics, she doesn't have as much of the innate relationship understanding as dd1. She also is in a very boy heavy class.

I agree to maybe back off in terms of these children, but sign her up for guides etc outside of school. Dd1 is in a group with no one else from her school, so it has been great for encouraging her to practise making friends.

SaraBellumHertz Fri 30-Nov-12 06:14:19

You really need to back off. Nothing in your post indicates that your DD has an issue with the situation, other than your over involvement.

You're clearly very sensitive about matters - for example neither mother was rude to you and describing a child as being "neutral" about another is entirely reasonable and not unkind, yet you have taken offence. Likewise the declining of an invitation to do something is perfectly acceptable.

I wonder If this sensitivity is the aggravating feature?

OlyRoller Fri 30-Nov-12 06:09:05

The first thing I thought after I read your post was: Back off. Really. You are making this into a bigger thing than it is. And stay friendly with the mothers. They haven't done anything except let you know how their kids are feeling. And stop interrogating your daughter about who she played with. You're stressing her out about it. Sorry, to be so bossy, but I can imagine being nine and my mother getting so invested and involved and I would not like it.

Maybe a good idea, if you are worried about a limited friendship pool, is to get her involved in an activity that involves children away from her class. Drama, sports, music, whatever and expose her to more potential friends. And be there for her too. You two can do things, just the two of you. Good luck but please don't worry too much.

Morloth Fri 30-Nov-12 05:17:44

I think if your DD is not actually bothered then you need to back off.

If you think she is being bullied then by all means get moving on the school, but trying to manage her relationships like you are will only result in her being pushed out I would think.

FellatioNelson Fri 30-Nov-12 04:54:35

I agree with alarkaspree. Unfortunately you cannot force people to be friends with your child (or you) if they don't want to be. So long as there is no actual bullying, then I would just back off and accept that they do not gel with her, and you cannot socially engineer your DD's life for her.

I think the mothers may be distancing themselves from you a little purely because they do not want their DDs to feel obligated to be friends with your DD if it is not working out so well. You sound as if you may be a little bit emotionally over-invested in trying to forge one big clique of mothers and daughters, all friends together, but if you are not careful you will start to come across as a bit pushy and needy. Sorry, it's not nice to hear. sad

SavoyCabbage Fri 30-Nov-12 03:03:24

I think it's just their age, they are starting to make friends with different people.

My dd is nine too and this is certainly the case with her class. She is definitely not friends with the same people that she was friends with when she started school, although the mothers are all still friends as we became friends through the relationships our children made when they started school.

HollaAtMeBaby Fri 30-Nov-12 01:36:42

Is your daughter actually bothered? It seems from your post that the only feeling she has shared with you is frustration with you constantly asking her about this. You sound massively over-involved.

arequipa Thu 29-Nov-12 14:22:39

My son had those problems in Y4 of a one year entry school. 4 boys were bullying him at playtime (inc.3 supposed friends). We did this: talked to the Head (she was great, dealt directly with boys concerned); we asked him who he'd like to come to tea and play (had a succession of nice girls round who played happily with him); we persuaded him to start an evening club to meet new friends from different schools(he was nervous at first, now loves it, is going camping with them). It's impossible not to feel enraged at the mean behaviour of other kids sometimes... but they move on quicker than we do. I have been cool to a couple of parents ever since - always will be- but my son is friends with two of the boys again, his choice. They're learning about power, group dynamics etc, aren't they?

Helltotheno Thu 29-Nov-12 14:15:33

OP at the moment doesn't know there's no bullying (or other) involved though. These things can be very very subtle, and from she's said, there was a lot more 'directing' going on by the other mothers!

Mu1berries Thu 29-Nov-12 13:55:07

I haven't read all the replies but although my dd is only a year older i've long since poked my nose out of my dd's friendships. she chooses who to play with and so on. perhaps (just perhaps) that is why things are awkward now because the other mothers don't have the same need to intervene and protect their child and sort of positively manage/steer thouse friendships. I think at this point (although I'd never be so blunt or rude as your friends and acquaintances) I'd be a bit surprised i think if i felt antoher mother was trying to direct the friendships of a bunch of ten year old girls.

Helltotheno Thu 29-Nov-12 13:39:44

And I agree with whoever said upthread to complain to the school. Doing nothing will leave you further exposed and potentially in a 'your word against mine' type situation...

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