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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>

topsyandturvy Tue 28-May-13 20:37:27

I think Dad is obsessed with contriving situations to provide what he thinks is best for his daughter. I think he has too much thinking time on his hands as well.

I dont think it is anything personal against you or your daughter.

What I do think though is that if you you enjoy some kind o friendship with this family you should strengthen your ties with the Mum a bit and give Dad a wider berth?

Springdiva Tue 28-May-13 19:17:01

Well, he does sound odd then. I'm not sure what makes people lie for now reason. Except it is a bit disrespectful towards the person you lie to. But can't see how you would stop him from doing it.

I remember when my eldest first started school, many of us were 'interested' in how our DCs were doing and tried to make sure our DC was near the top of the class but you mellow with time and in the end just want a happy time for your DC.
Perhaps he has come new to the school environment and is going through the competing thing ie where he wants the 'best' pals for his DD especially as she is 'gifted' and has yet to mellow.

Earlybird Tue 28-May-13 13:52:02

To clarify and respond to a few posts:
* the Dad invites A/B/C to play with X individually (not as a group that excludes dd). When our girls get together outside school it is usually (but not always) at my instigation.
* DD has other friends both in school and outside (as does X), but they are each others' clear 'favourite'.
* The exclusive Maths lessons were instigated by X's Dad and TigerMumX2, not by the school. These two parents believe their bright girls have superior ability to the few other 'Maths Geeks' (all seem to score roughly the same on tests as they talk about it amongst themselves)
* I asked the Dad if he had seen the other family because we all are friends and they live near to each other (We live miles away). it was casual chitchat to pass the time, nothing more (besides, why wouldn't he simply say 'yes, we had them over for a BBQ last weekend' - it is not a big thing to me. What is a big thing is that he is deceptive about it - especially as I will hear about it because X will tell dd.).

As far as socialising with couples as a single person: my married friends are happy to include me in their plans a great deal of the time, and I'm thankful for that or I would have a very limited social life as most people 'round here are married! I'm grateful my single status appears not to threaten the women, and that the men are able to resist me (grin). Obviously, there are times when I am not included, and it may sometimes be because people would rather invite couples to a dinner party, etc., but that is understandable and certainly not something i take personally.

IN a general way, some people-in-couples will only socialise with other couples. I find it a weird subspecies of mundane behaviour.

flumperoo Tue 28-May-13 11:02:42

I'm a single parent and as my daughter was going through primary school and I was making friends with other parents, I definitely had the feeling that married couples preferred friendships with other married couples. So, although being a single parent might not be an issue in terms of the dad fancying you or the mum feeling threatened, it could be the case that they prefer and more actively seek relationships with other couples like themselves.

HabbaDabba Tue 28-May-13 09:56:15

Y6? And people are giving the dad grief because he is concerned that after so many years at the school his 11 year old DD has only one close friend??

pickledsiblings Tue 28-May-13 09:51:44

HabbaDabba, these girls are not in Reception they are in Y6, it's slightly different. If the girls come out of school holding hands then that suggests to me that they are each others preferred playmate when the Dad isn't around to interfere.

alpinemeadow Tue 28-May-13 08:03:49

I too think the dad may not be as bad as people are assuming. I don't think early bird meant that he invited a,b and c back to x all at the same time and excluded dd from a gathering of all the others. I thought he was inviting each of a, b and c back separately - which seems fair enough, certinly within parameters of normal socialising. He does invite dd, but not very often - annoying but not villainous! If i'm wrong and he was inviting several girls at the same time and not dd, then that's different.
The maths lessons - it may not have been he who asked for it to be just the two girls, but the school who made that decision.
Wrong way of asking if earlybird can look after x - agree it's quite annoying, if you want a favour ask nicely, don't pretend you're doing the other person a favour, but again not villainous.
Handholding - yes maybe overreacting to object on one occasion but as per my earlier post he may have concerns that it is seen as 'excluding' others. Look at it another way and he's saying don't be exclusive, be friendly and open to everyone. Not a bad message!
Totally agree earlybird should put her dd's interests first, and it does sound as though the two girls are lovely friends!

MummaBubba123 Tue 28-May-13 07:58:57

DEFINITELY do what Terriorisy said! Loved it and not too 'in your face'!
Next time he calls with a last minute play date offer, definitely do that!

HabbaDabba Tue 28-May-13 01:39:21

Well, like I said upthread, my DD when she was in Reception spent all her time with one friend and when they fell out DD was miserable because she had no other friends. They made up but after that I organised playdates with other girls. Bit pointless to invite her best friend along if this was what I was trying achieve.

As for using the OP for her contact value grin at the Machiavellian tactics of SAHPs whether real or perceived.

The social engineering comment was funny. Organising playdates for a child with no mates is a good thing. Organising playdates for a child with only one mate is the dad being controlling.

chipmonkey Tue 28-May-13 00:55:19

But, if you want them to have a wider circle of friends.. ( Actually that is odd to me as I like my children's friendships to evolve naturally) then surely you would include ALL the children.
If my boys have a get-together, I invite my son's best friend AND his other friends, not the other friends instead of the best friend. I can't see any reason to leave a child out.
And it does seem that he's using the OP to make contacts, and then once he's made them, he'll only bother with OP if it suits him.
And objecting to two little girls holding hands is strange.

HabbaDabba Tue 28-May-13 00:25:08

The dad wanted his DC to have a wider circle of friends as opposed to wanting his DC to mix with the 'right sort'.

The dad was invited to things that the OP wasn't but there is nothing in the posts to suggest that the OP was excluded because she wasn't the 'right sort' either.

chipmonkey Tue 28-May-13 00:08:22

Yes, but the socialising seems to be a bit selective!

HabbaDabba Tue 28-May-13 00:01:52

But this isn't 'exactly the same thing' chip. The dad and his wife socialises with the OP so there is no indication of snobbery being involved.

chipmonkey Mon 27-May-13 23:51:51

HabbaDabba, if this was a SAHM or a WOHM we were talking about, I'd say exactly the same thing. We have had similar to this with one of ds1's friend's Mums. who is a WOHM. In the end, I was relieved when her ds stopped hanging out with ds1 because she made a point of inviting a group of boys on a day out and excluding ds1 because she though the other boys were more academically suitable for her ds1. And then she would breezily say to ds1, "Oh the next time the boys are going bowling/paintballing etc, invite yourself along" knowing full well that ds1 was quite shy and wouldn't invite himself anywhere! But ds1 has made better friends now, thankfully!

Springdiva Mon 27-May-13 21:00:24

We were chatting a few days ago, and their name came up. I asked if he had seen or spoken to them
Why would you ask if they had seen or spoken to them? It sounds like you are getting a bit paranoid about his less than friendly behaviour.
I would take a step back and perhaps suggest to DD that she widens her friends circle as she will be going to secondary soon and mixing with lots of new people.

pickledsiblings Mon 27-May-13 19:48:34

OP, I think the reason he 'plays down' his interactions with other parents is because he wants to maintain those friendships exclusively and doesn't want you 'butting in' on them.

He probably feels like he is doing you a favour every time he talks to you. If you like his wife then keep up the friendship with her but distance yourself from him and don't be too subtle about doing so.

I'd be inclined to let him know that you are on to him and that you are no longer willing to be used- but this I would be subtle about. We have this saying in Ireland, 'a joke with a jag' - it's where you say something 'funny' that is an unpalatable truth e.g. 'oh, so we'll be seeing you at lunch Bob, unless you get a better offer before then eh, ha ha ha.' Drop a few of those in and he'll soon realise that he has pushed you too far.

You sound really nice btw and I'm sure that your DD and X can continue to be good friends in spite of his social interfering engineering.

ChippingInWiredOnCoffee Mon 27-May-13 16:16:02

He sounds barking and a right royal pain in the arse. I agree with whoever said he needs a full time job and to let his children have their own lives. Poor kids.

I'd step right away from them as a family and leave the girls to maintain their own friendship. As much as you might have felt they were good company or nice people, I think you are totally being used by them.

If your DD gets (understandably) upset about the invites he extends to other children but not her, I'd just be fairly honest with her and say that he wants his DD to have lots of other friends as well so he chooses who she spends her time with, but that you are happy for her to choose for herself and that she shouldn't let it spoil the friendship she has with x, but to understand that it might be wise to have other friends as well, because x certainly will.

terrierist Mon 27-May-13 16:00:43

Next time he asks if your dd would like to see X say 'That's kind of you, I'm sure she'd love to. What time shall I bring her round?'

A1980 Mon 27-May-13 15:43:59

Weird. I would just let it work itself out. By the time the children hit teens they will not be taken to play dates or told who to be friends with.

Ilikecandy Mon 27-May-13 15:29:31

Am in a similar situation OP.
And although quite naive myself, non flirty etc. it was still quite obvious to me that ds best friend since primary school (when i was a single parent) was always encouraged to mingle with posher families, or at least families who all thought they were posher!
Am now remarried but darn it! We are still not invited to their grand house, or holidays etc... Funny though, although both boys have widened their social circles, are now 15, they are still best friends.
If X isn't as shallow as her dad, their friendship will continue.

ComtessedeFrouFrou Mon 27-May-13 15:14:17

I think that this guy is an Alpha Mum, only with a Y chromosome. It's interesting that you say that he was a semi professional sports player and is now a SAHD.

We've all met them - formerly busy, high flying mums who now plough all of their energy (and own ambition) into their children or their husband's career. It's just that this Alpha Mum is an Alpha Dad.

Weird and controlling. His poor DD is a pawn in the whole thing. I would support your DD as you suggest and distance yourselves. Perhaps prepare yourself for the fallout when your DD inevitably gets hurt along the way.

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?

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.

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...

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