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AIBU : Friends!

(26 Posts)
sssj72 Tue 05-Jul-11 19:51:43

3 years ago a family moved into a house a few doors down from us. Their 1st language is not English. I have become good friends with the mum, our children go to the same school & our daughters have become best friends. I do admitt that the tone of voice that my friend sometimes speaks in is not approppriate & this can make her come across as unfriendly. Also my friend can not understand how we ( as a culture) deal with situations in life so she believes she is always right , becomes defensive & thinks we are 'weak'. For example because a boy did not want to play with her son she instantly said that was social bullying & went straight to the school to complain. When she did not get the response she wanted she confronted the boy's mum in front of everyone & it was at the very least cringe worthy to witness. I have tried to talk to her unsuccessfully about the manner in which she speaks to others & that just because a kid does not want to play with someone it does not make them a bully. Things came to ahead recently with another confrontation & she has now allinated herself . I now feel stuck in the middle as with me she is nice, friendly, warm & we enjoy spending time together but I have witnessed the other side to her. People are now coming up to me telling me they do not like her and people are gossiping about her. I walk away as I do not want to get involed in their issues with her. Any advice on how to deal with this will be grately recieved!

LeoTheLateBloomer Tue 05-Jul-11 19:55:03

It sounds like it could be down to major cultural differences. Where is she from?

sssj72 Tue 05-Jul-11 20:39:41

The family are from Sweden

LeoTheLateBloomer Tue 05-Jul-11 20:59:56

Hmm. Maybe not then. All the Swedes I know are far more laid back and understanding than that.

Is she just not listening to you? What does she say when you try and talk to her?

DoMeDon Tue 05-Jul-11 21:03:42

Is she very direct? I know some brits find it terrifying smile

redexpat Tue 05-Jul-11 21:11:10

She's swedish?! They are a very inclusive country. Recently a school teacher confiscated invitations to a birthday party because 2 children in the class weren't invited. One because he hadn't invited the child to his party, and the other because they had had an argument!

I think different people have very different ideas about what constitutes bullying. Perhaps suggest ot her that if she thinks her son is being bullied she could write down the incidents and check with teachers first?

DoMeDon Tue 05-Jul-11 21:14:36

As for this 'you can't make DC play together' stuff - it is a reflection of the adults they see - sniding behind friends backs, being unkind - it's unusual in Sweden and many other lovely countries filled with kind, non-sarcastic people smile

sssj72 Tue 05-Jul-11 21:47:23

'They are a very inclusive country' that has shone light on it for me. I think this must all be a cultural thing then. She is direct but I think what others find hard about her is the manner in which she says it , her tone of voice & her not liking it if people disagree with her view. Reflecting back I do remember her telling me about a 'incident' in school where some other kids ran off from her son to play something else & she was upset at that (back to inclusion thing) & also she does seem quite hung up on how many friends that her son & daughter have. The slightest upset in regards to her children & she will be on the schools or the parents case. Although our girls are best friends they once had a little falling out , nothing that I considered major & something that they needed to sort out between themselves ( I was monitoring it from afar) but I did get a call about it I pointed out that if I contacted a parent every time my kids felt left out or did not get to sit next to who they wanted to I would never be off the phone! O'h well summer hols start in a few weeks so I look forward to a break from all of this but in the mean time I shall just grit my teeth (grin) O'h the joys of being stuck in the middle!

PrettyMeerkat Tue 05-Jul-11 21:56:55

I'm really surprised that people are saying it is cultural. In what culture can you force children to play together if they don't want to. That's unkind to the children and takes away their choice in the matter!

redexpat Wed 06-Jul-11 18:29:54

Ooh and in Denmark (so quite possibly the same in Sweden but not def) the parents are very involved in school. You have to go to class events several times a year in addition to normal parents' evenings and the usual sports days and concerts and what not. May explain why she marches off to school so quickly.

If it's her language that's a problem perhaps you could write down some phrases that can help her express things in a less confrontational way. It's the finer points of communicating in a second language that are really really tough. English is a very rich language and we have a lot of nuances that dont exist in others. She is probably translating directly what she would say in swedish.

She probably gets defensive because it's very easy to when you're in the minority nothing is ever normal or easy and the press spends a lot of time bitching about foreigners. Speaking from personal experience .

TheMagnificentBathykolpian Wed 06-Jul-11 19:18:31

Does she make her child behave in the same way to other children that she demands they behave? Including everyone, not not (iyswim grin ) playing with anyone, never arguing, always telling her child that he is 'socially bullying' if he ever makes a choice about who he wants to play with?

Just out of interest.

PrettyMeerkat Thu 07-Jul-11 08:36:51

I still find it really strange that she thinks it is social bullying if another child doesn't want to play with hers.

I think maybe the cultural thing has nothing to do with it and she is actually just really precious! I wouldn't imagine that in Denmark it would be considered normal to force one child to have a playdate with another if they really didn't want to!

DoMeDon Thu 07-Jul-11 11:01:24

In many countries it is considered unkind behaviour when DC refuse to play together nicely. Instead of 'respecting' the wishes of the child who is excluding the other, they address the behaviour.

why is it precious to hope that DC could just be nice to each other?

PrettyMeerkat Thu 07-Jul-11 12:15:01

Gentle encouragement is fine but I don't think you can force children to like each other if they don't, or to get on if they can't. There are children that my dcs don't like playing with because they hit for example. No child should have to put up with that, and it's not teaching the hitter anything. Better that they realise that they won't have any friends if they carry on with such behaviour.

Think about your collegues and acquaintances, think about the one's you like the least, how would you feel if you were forced to spend an afternoon with them playing happily when it's the last thing you want to do.

Of course you need to teach your children to be accepting of others and kind to others/inclusive etc, but sometimes these forced friendships will be at the detriment of the child.

jeckadeck Thu 07-Jul-11 13:08:33

I know Scandinavian culture is big on "inclusion" and cohesion but I don't think you can put this all down to that. It may form the cultural backdrop which informs her views but surely its just common sense that two kids who don't get on can't be forced to like one another? Your friend sounds highly assertive -- verging on the pushy -- and stands up for her children to the point of being aggressive, neglecting the practicalities. I don't see that being Swedish has got much to do with it. She just sounds like a pushy parent and god knows there are plenty of home grown ones.... I mean, if you like her fine, but I don't think you can use her being Swedish as an endless cop out.

PrettyMeerkat Thu 07-Jul-11 13:57:29

I agree jeck. Sounds like PFB to me.

sssj72 Sun 10-Jul-11 21:33:11

Have casually spoken to my friend about what schooling is like in Sweden. They are big on inclusion so they do see not involing a child as 'social bullying'. Apparently teachers are not allowed to shout at children & where as we have parents evenings in Sweden they have evenings where the child goes to the school with their parent/s & the child tells the teacher how he/she finds things are going & how the teacher could improve !!!!

TheSecondComing Sun 10-Jul-11 22:26:18

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

bibbitybobbityhat Sun 10-Jul-11 22:27:59

Are you being unreasonable about what?

rainbowtoenails Sun 10-Jul-11 22:54:15

There is a tinge of xenophobia and cultural intolerance in your op tbh. Im british but i think it'd be nice to live in a society which encouraged kids to play with other kids, even the ones ty dont like. The ability to get along with all types of people is a valuable skill and is something clearly lacking in your community.

AlabamaWorley Sun 10-Jul-11 23:06:21

* Im british but i think it'd be nice to live in a society which encouraged kids to play with other kids, even the ones ty dont like*

You think kids should play with kids they don't like? Do you go to the pub or have dinner with adults you don't like???

AlabamaWorley Sun 10-Jul-11 23:06:54

Im british but i think it'd be nice to live in a society which encouraged kids to play with other kids, even the ones ty dont like

You think kids should play with kids they don't like? Do you go to the pub or have dinner with adults you don't like???

Kallista Sun 10-Jul-11 23:49:30

I'm not so sure about the swedish all being more socially inclusive in schools.
A friend of my younger sister's is Swedish - her sister is 16; pretty girl but with SN (ADHD & epilepsy), also from large very poor family so wears old clothes.
The other (richer, non-SN) girls at school just totally excluded her, & bullied anyone who went to her defence.
Re: OP's friend i think she is just blunt in her opinions which can be true of anyone IME.
I used to think there were regional / cultural variations in people's behaviour but have learnt never to assume anything about why people behave how they do.

rainbowtoenails Mon 11-Jul-11 03:59:12

Alabama- yes, partners of friends, friends and relatives of friends, some family members, the list goes on. You have to be able to get along with ppl who you dont like much, its's essential for adult life so kids should be taught it.

MrMan Mon 11-Jul-11 05:25:01

I would ignore national culture. Generally Swedes avoid conflict and have a strong emphasis on social harmony. There are some who are outspoken but more usually Swedes go to significant length not to offend. tbh, unless she has serious insecurity issues, I think we are missing part of the story about why the mother got so upset.

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