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What do you think about this friendship between two girls (year 6), and our families?

(72 Posts)
Earlybird Sun 26-May-13 19:44:25

I'd like a bit of perspective on this friendship please.

A bit of background: DD's best friend at school is X. The girls are very similar, are part of the same group of friends at school, and enjoy many of the same interests. They have been best friends for about 4 years.

I have become close friends with X's parents, who moved to this city for work a few years back. The Mum is the breadwinner, and the Dad is the stay-at-home parent.

The Dad is very clear that he does not want X to have a single best friend (thinks it is much better to be part of a group), and very actively pursues contact for X with other girls. He constantly makes social arrangements for X - sometimes with my dd, but more often with other girls (possibly because I usually initiate social time between DD and X, so presumably he makes an effort with other girls to ensure a balance). Because of this, X's family do not often reciprocate our invitations, but it becomes tricky to explain to dd why A/B/C are seen leaving school with X, when dd is seldom invited to X's home. This has been especially noticeable for the last few months - after X's father saw dd and X walking out to the playground holding hands. He told me he disapproved, and intended to speak to X about it.

Part 2 of the quandary: X's parents and I have socialised together a reasonable amount. They also have been good to me, and I am good to them. We help each other out with logistics and arrangements. The Dad will sometimes drop dd at home if I am stuck in a meeting, etc. I have also had their girls over to our house if they need help with coverage.

We often chat about our lives - what we've done, what is going on at school, weekend plans, etc. But X's father is often not quite truthful. Examples:
1. We were invited to the same party recently. I arrived right on time, and X's family were already there. I said something like ' I'm glad to see I'm not the first to arrive. Have you been here long?' He mumbled something about having just arrived, but it emerged later (from X to dd) that they had actually been at the host's home for several hours. Why would it matter, and why in the world would he fib?

2. We have other mutual (casual) friends that we both see infrequently. We were chatting a few days ago, and their name came up. I asked if he had seen or spoken to them. He said he hadn't. DD got in the car and said X told her the other family went to X's for a BBQ last week. Again, why would it matter and why would he fib? Why wouldn't he just say so?

There are lots of similar examples. Sometimes they act like fabulous close friends, and other times I am tripped up by these completely unnecessary fibs.

What do you think? <sorry for the long post>

bellablot Sun 26-May-13 23:28:24

On the face of it his behaviour seems a little on the strange end of the spectrum.

Does he fancy you maybe and his wife knows it so she doesn't want you both to hang out???

Nout as queer as folk! shock

Earlybird Sun 26-May-13 23:30:42

No reason DD and X shouldn't spend lots of time together. They have the sort of friendship you'd hope your child would find at this age. Sometimes they get a bit grumpy/moody with each other, but there has never been any serious unpleasantness or a falling out. They are both 'geeks' - love to read, work hard in school, have vivid imaginations, etc. They are interested in many of the same things, and very content in each others' company.

bellablot Sun 26-May-13 23:33:22

Oops, should have read the last few posts, sorry!!!! Def sounds like he has an agenda, maybe you aren't in tune with it?

seeker Sun 26-May-13 23:34:38

I think he's worried your dd and his are too close. The not liking them holding hands thing would be a warning flag to me. He sound like a loon.

I would just carry on inviting your dd's friend to spend time with her, and let him get on with his social engineering.

Slambang Sun 26-May-13 23:37:11

Hmm - does he think he (and his family) are rather too good for you? Is he using you as a step ladder in his social climbing, only useful as a first step in but not really quite fit for his aspirations for his dd. His behaviour seems more like he thinks you are not quite in his social bracket and that your dd is not quite the right sort of friend for his dd. (Let me guess - the other skiing and barbequing family are slightly grander than you, drive a flashy car and have a lovely big house, right?)

IAmNotAMindReader Sun 26-May-13 23:40:06

I would be wary of him.

His interest in you could be as a stepping stone to get entrenched into this circle of friends, once he feels he is in far enough you may unfortunately find the whole family drop you and your DD at his behest as you will have then out lived you usefulness.

Depending on how single minded a social climber he is you may also then become a threat to his newly found status and there may be attempts to ostracise you and/or your DD from various social events and friendships.

Earlybird Sun 26-May-13 23:44:15

He and his wife have a definite life path mapped out for their children, and already talk about universities and careers for their dc (not as odd as it sounds as his wife is in recruitment so constantly interviews/assesses CVs).

He is someone who played semi-professional sports in his prime, so I've wondered if his extremely competitive nature is now transferred on to aspirations for their daughters - especially X who is extremely bright, perhaps even 'gifted'.

Simply writing all of this down makes me think he is very calculated about most everything. I think he is happy for X to spend time with dd when it suits him, but he is grooming X for 'big things'. I never stood back to wonder about his motivation - until now.

Earlybird Sun 26-May-13 23:53:19

IAmNotAMindreader and slambang - I think you may have hit on something. The skiing family are lovely, and 'highly desirable' - both are doctors in private practise and they have the high flying lifestyle afforded by that sort of income. I introduced the two families, and now they often get together without including us (which is fine).

Once we were all together and X's parents commented on how wonderful it would be if X and the doctors' son eventually married (you're right, that does sound loony). Sometimes the oddest things, when said in a reasonable tone, sound almost reasonable!

springymater Sun 26-May-13 23:57:02

A 'dear friend who went on many holidays with them'?? hmm

This all sounds rather jolly hockey sticks/Miss Marple/1930s. Things just aren't like that now. Your innocence, and possibly his wife's innocence too seems absurd tbh. What era are you living in in your head/s?

There's all this head-scratching, finding his behaviour odd and bizarre and unfathomable. You insist, like a school ma'am, that he doesn't fancy you or have any designs on you. But unless he's braindead he will have noticed that you are a woman.

Don't be a fool - just because you insist on being asexual, it doesn't mean he is. We live in a deeply sexualised culture - ignoring or disdaining it doesn't make it go away.

snice Mon 27-May-13 00:04:27

I would guess he is trying to engineer friendships for his daughter with more affluent children-sadly not uncommon in my experience

suburbophobe Mon 27-May-13 00:27:28

I got the distinct impression that he wanted to keep his options open (his 'wider circle for X strategy), and then when he couldn't make alternative arrangements, wanted to spend time with us.

"Never make someone a priority for whom you are only an option"

The fibbing and controlling behaviour would put me right off too.

Donnadoon Mon 27-May-13 00:30:07

OP He sounds odd! Perhaps his wife is bisexual? You mentioned another singleton they used to holiday with.

He does sound very manipulative. I think it's probably best just to ignore him as much as possible without being rude; don't waste energy second-guessing him and cut back on socialising with the whole family. You say the DDs are in Year 6 so they are 10/11 - they are getting to the age where they want to be with their friends without mummies and daddies tagging along anyway.

ravenAK Mon 27-May-13 00:51:08

I'm afraid I think you & dd are the 'not ideal, but at least we can take them for granted' fallback friends in this scenario tbh.

The reason he's shifty about parties & holidays with other friends is that he imagines you'll want to muscle in somehow; he's probably merrily bitching about you to them, too, because he sees you as a 'tag-along'. In his eyes, you aren't half of the sort of aspirational couple he wants to link up with - but you are a dependable mate who will do stuff like having their girls over in a childcare emergency.

He's obviously a total prat.

I'd be putting some distance between myself & him, whilst still encouraging dd & X to be friends at school.

FairPhyllis Mon 27-May-13 02:00:27

My guess is that he is using you as a way in to a social circle he thinks is 'desirable', but that you yourself aren't sufficiently grand enough in his opinion for his daughter. So he keeps his options open as you said with the lunch - you'll do in the event there are no other plans. Charming.

Don't know about the fibbing though - maybe he thinks you'll suss out his pushiness if it's obvious they are getting very close with the other families? Maybe he thinks he's competing with you for friendships with the other couples? And trying to push you out?

Personally I would continue to provide opportunities for the girls if they are still good friends but cool off things with him and his wife. And also help your daughter with other opportunities for friendships.

I don't think you being single has anything to do with it, I think he's a user. He calls you and gets info and keeps his plans open only wanting to meet up when nothing better comes along.
He is not your friend I doubt he really likes anyone as his friend, he only hangs with people for what they can do, or give, in the form of social climbing, or in your case, company when things fall through.
He wants his Dd to befriend others he chooses as they have families he can use.
I'd stop the chats, stop the lunches, and just stick to letting the girls be friends and seeing each other.
Next time you catch him in a lie, be really calm and call him on it, whie keeping a smile on your face, then walk off or change the subject, not giving him a chance to try and turn it around onto you, which he will try to do.
He doesn't sound like a very nice person at all.

RichManPoorManBeggarmanThief Mon 27-May-13 06:40:06

Yeah, he doesnt sound very nice and I dont think there's any evidence at all that he fancies the OP. In fact, my reading would be that he is actively trying to distance her and avoid including her in their social engagements, except when it's convenient for him. My read would be that the wife is much keener to be friends with the OP than the husband, and the H considers his family a cut above.

I also dont necessarily think the single people hanging out with couples thing is that odd. DH and I have gone on weekends away/ out for dinner with single friends of both sexes. Is there some law that couples can only hang out with other couples and singles with singles?

alpinemeadow Mon 27-May-13 07:28:57

Hmm, i think it is possible there are more benevolent explanations here, without (i hope) being too naive! The 'not letting on' about various things could well be a misguided attempt not to hurt your feelings. He does invite dd back to x's house sometimes - i agree it would be bad if he never did - but also wants her to have other friends as well. And as you say he does do some favours like dropping dd off.

More controversially, although i know other posters think he is weird for objecting to handholding, i am interested in his reasons why. I know it's very natural to do it, but i suppose he may feel it's sending, totally unintentionally, an excluding message to other dcs - we are so close, we don't want to play with any of you? (i know that's not what x and dd mean, but he may think it comes across as a bit unopen to others. I'm not saying dcs should never hold hands! but just that he may be concerned that x and your dd could be cutting themselves off from others - probably quite unjustifiably concerned, as you've said they're in a group).

So my view would be - yes do definitely encourage your dd to have other friends as well, some out of school activities that x isn't involved with, and so on - in fact that would probably be sensible even if he weren't so vocal about wanting x to branch out herself. As he is, it is even more to be desired! But x sounds a lovely friend to have, your dd is lucky to have found a soulmate!

chipmonkey Mon 27-May-13 08:16:10

I think he sounds weird, the way he reacted to your daughters coming out holding hands and that it was odd of him to tell you he was unhappy with it. He sounds like the sort of guy who uses people for his own ends, rather than actually making friends.

Bonsoir Mon 27-May-13 08:25:02

The father sounds excessively calculating and lacking in social graces. Try to step away - there is nothing to understand other than he only cares about himself.

MummaBubba123 Mon 27-May-13 08:40:46

He sounds odd. Step back and improve on your boundaries (don't respond to texts sent after your invitation has been refused).
Step back just far enough NOT to affect your DD's friendship with X.
You and she deserve more respect fur the information (keeping in the loop) and friendship that you offer.

alpinemeadow Mon 27-May-13 09:03:11

Well, he must have good points, as earlybird likes the family's friendship - maybe as others have said he is lacking in social graces, but that doesn't necessarily mean he is a horrible person.... But i think see his good points (earlybird has mentioned some!) and do as one poster has suggested - enjoy the occasional get together (initiated by them!) and don't expect too much. Definitely put your dd's interests first.
(not sure why i'm feeling the need to leap to his defence, but he does seem to be getting 'morphed' here into something he may not be! Ps i am not him!)

Kione Mon 27-May-13 11:01:13

can the girls decide if they want to spend time together? ie x inviting your DD directly without going through his dad?
He does sound he is using you for contacts...

Earlybird Mon 27-May-13 14:36:03

This thread has given me what I needed - perspective. it has got me thinking how most of the invitations issued by this family are last minute - which either points to the appeal of a spontaneous meet up, or using us as a backup plan if other things fail to materialise. Or a bit of both.

It has also got me thinking about how this Dad words things. For example: instead of asking if I will do him a favour and have X for a few hours, he'll say ' would your dd like to see X this afternoon?' That sort of wording makes it seem as if he is doing us a favour by making X available.

This thread also made me remember about his academic ambitions and competitiveness for X. X and dd are part of a small group of advanced Math students. The Dad arranged last fall for X and another girl (Tiger Mum x 2) to have special extended Math lessons during the school day - excluding dd and 2 or 3 others who arguably should have been included. The Dad never said anything about it to me or the other parents - and we have had extensive conversations about the need for this. When the parents found out the lessons were finally being offered - but only to 2 children - there were complaints. The school backtracked (and admitted mis-handling the situation), and made the lessons available to a group of 5 children.

I had tended to view these various incidents as isolated, and brushed them off. But stepping back and viewing them as a whole, it is clear that i have been naive by not recognising this pattern earlier.

HabbaDabba Mon 27-May-13 15:00:17

The OP being single is, as she has said herself, a red herring. We, through our children, are quite friendly with a divorced dad and a single parent. It's not that big a deal unusual.

As for the comments about the dad, if it was a SAHM would people be making the same observations?

When mine were in primary school I too made an effort to encourage a wider circle of friends. When DD was in Year R she and another did everything together to the exclusion of all other kids. Then one day they had a falling out. It only lasted a week but for that one week DD was in tears because she had no other friends. I was determined thereafter to ensure that DD's happiness didn't rise or fall based on one child. I suspect that this is what the dad is trying to achieve as well.

As for the fibbing, each scenario can be interpreted as him trying to spare your feelings. Given your trying to see something more sinister into why he wants his DD to have a wider circle of friends, do you blame him?

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