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To end a lifelong friendship because of this?

(179 Posts)
gomummygo Thu 29-Sep-11 17:56:17

Should probably name change but oh well. I have posted about this once before, about a year ago and I've stuck it out until now, BUT...

Lifelong friend, generally nice person, but one of her two DCs is utterly horrible to be around. sad I know, it sounds awful to say. It's well past being a phase, we're talking years now of incredibly obnoxious behaviour. Obnoxious is the exact word but can't begin to describe how extreme it is. Friend says that her DC are "free spirits" and does not try to curb it at all. Her other DC is far better behaved.

My DH does not want to associate with her & her DH at all because of this and I can't blame him. He'd prefer our DS not be around them because of the things that he picks up and we then have to explain why we don't do these things.

A year ago I received advice on here to try to see her without DC. Well, shortly after I posted that she told me about wanting this DC to spend lots more time with me, what a good role model I was, etc., so it made the advice tough to follow! I haven't wanted to give up on a v. long term friendship and I have tried so hard to grit my teeth and bear it but blush I just cannot stand to be with them anymore!!! It is so frustrating.

We are good enough friends that I have tried to speak to her a couple of times about the behaviours. Problem is that we have completely different parenting philosophies and she really sees a lot of the behaviours as "self expression" that she doesn't want to "quash." I, on the other hand, see it as rude/ill mannered/generally obnoxious.

I really didn't want to lose her friendship over this but I just cannot see how we can continue a friendship when I dread seeing her and now find myself constantly making ridiculous excuses to avoid her, except on rare occasions when I know she will be without said child. She really does have a good heart, she was one of the few friends who stuck around when I made a big (positive for me) life change a few years back.

So if you've gotten this far, AIBU to give up on the friendship? There isn't really much left of it anyway at this point I guess, but I'm sad about it.

Be brutal, I feel like I deserve it for even asking, but between having my house destroyed and listening to an endless stream of incredibly rude drivel, I am at my wits end and genuinely have no idea where to go from here.

You've tried and she isn't interested in dealing with behaviours that actually affect you. I'd certainly call time on the friendship and I'd tell her why.

I wonder how this self expression from this free spirit is dealt with in school though. And it will be interesting to see what kind of adult this child becomes. There's allowing your children freedom to express themselves and there's letting them down by not guiding them in the right direction. From what you say, this sounds more like the latter than the former.

ThePumpkinKing Thu 29-Sep-11 18:02:21

How old is the child? Of an age where you will soon see less of them quite naturally?

I'd be brutal, and just say 'I really rather spend child-free time with you because...'.

What does the child do exactly? Any chance you're over-reacting? grin

amothersplaceisinthewrong Thu 29-Sep-11 18:03:25

LEt me guess the free spirits are home educated.....

I too would call time on the friendship, and tell her why. Interesting you are a good role model for her son though, yet she won't practice your parenting philosophy herself.....

minipie Thu 29-Sep-11 18:04:03

YANBU

But I would say, don't just drop her. Try being truthful with her first. Explain that you can't deal with her DC's behaviour (just the one not the other one) and that you are finding yourself reluctant to see her because of it.

She may well just think you are wrong and be up in arms at your criticism. But if you were going to end the friendship otherwise, you've lost nothing if she does this.

And there's just a chance it could give her a wake up call and she will try to do something about it. In which case you are better off than if you had just ended the friendship without saying anything. (And so is she and her DC and everyone else who knows them...!)

aStarInStrangeways Thu 29-Sep-11 18:05:36

if you've reached the stage of considering walking away for good, is it worth laying everything on the line to her in incredibly blunt fashion before you do? you'd have nothing to lose, really - worst case scenario, she is so hurt that she does the walking, best case she actually grasps how much her child's behaviour is affecting you.

i don't mean be nasty or aggressive, obviously. just state your case calmly and let her see the real regret that you clearly feel about it.

gomummygo Thu 29-Sep-11 18:05:41

Some problems at school, Hectate, as would be expected I think.

Can't help but be a bit sad over it though, she has been a good friend to me over the years. Otherwise I'd not likely be so torn. Or trying so hard. confused

ImperialBlether Thu 29-Sep-11 18:07:08

I think you owe it to her to speak to her about it. What is her husband like? Is she alone in wanting this child to express himself?

When you try to arrange to see her alone and she says "Oh but..." then you need to say something quite straight to her.

"I really, really hate to say this to you, Friend, but I don't agree with you about the freedom of expression you're allowing your son. It's got to the point where I think he's become a bad influence on my children and I have to be honest - I don't want them to see him when he behaves badly, because it has such an impact on their own behaviour. I know you wanted me to spend time with him, but I find him so rude and he ruins my house to such an extent that I dread seeing him. I know you want him to be able to express himself, but I just can't handle being with him when he behaves like that."

It will be really hard to say, but someone will say it to her sooner or later. If you say it, when she loves and respects you, then there's a smidgen of a chance she'll listen.

I'm so sorry you have to do this - I do know how hard it would be.

Teaandcakeplease Thu 29-Sep-11 18:07:18

I remember your original thread GoMummy and of course we talk a lot on mumsnet blush Tricky though it is and you're such a kind person you already feel guilty. I think YANBU sad

I like minipie's advice. Hard though it is to do. She's right x

NorfolkBroad Thu 29-Sep-11 18:08:20

YANBU. I really feel for you gomummygo. This is such a difficult situation, I have been in it before (I'm actually kind of in it at the moment but with not with a very close friend).

Anyway, in the past I agonised and agonised but decided that distancing myself was the only way. As you say, you have different parenting styles. I am more like you, I am quite firm but on the other hand, to be fair my daughter was born very mild mannered and some kids are just a bit more challenging. Still, in my case, after pulling back (literally just making excuses ALOT- not having a big showdown) for a while things gradually started to improve. My friends DCs matured, the children naturally drifted apart a bit and we began to do stuff together without the kids a bit. I suppose what I'm saying is just pull back a bit for now, it could all look very different in a couple of years and then you haven't burnt your bridges.

On the other hand my best friend was in this situation with some dear friends of hers and they ended up having a massive row on holiday where the other family left several days early! However, they did manage to sort it out and agree that their kids didn't get on but their friendship was important. Sorry, very long response, really hope you can resolve it somehow, such an awkward situation!

NorfolkBroad Thu 29-Sep-11 18:10:21

Imperial- just read your response, such a difficult thing to do but yes probably that is exactly the way to handle it if you can bring yourself to say it!

gomummygo Thu 29-Sep-11 18:16:46

Maybe I am PumpkinKing, I was raised by parents who were quite strict, so I always question myself as to whether or not I am over reacting. Child has just reached school age. I sort of measure it by DH's reaction; he is quite laid back but this child stresses him beyond belief. If he thinks the behaviour is shocking, then I tend to think that I'm not over reacting here. <uncertain> Behaviours range from minor (ie. howling a single word repetitively or just screeching any time an adult tries to speak to another adult) to highly aggravating (ie. literally hanging from my curtains and breaking the rod out of the wall). To give you some idea.

I thought the same Amothersplace. She thinks that I, myself, am a good role model, but thinks my parenting philosophy could be "stifling." Rules and all that.

That sounds like the right thing to do minipie, but I bet she'd become very angry. The first time I talked to her about it, she was v. calm, but the second she was quite irritated as we had already talked about this, iykwim?

ThePumpkinKing Thu 29-Sep-11 18:22:36

If the other child is different, is it possible that the one you dislike could have special needs.

I know it's a MN cliche, but thoses two things do sound odd in a 5 year old.

SpanishPaella Thu 29-Sep-11 18:23:53

Well, shortly after I posted that she told me about wanting this DC to spend lots more time with me, what a good role model I was, etc., so it made the advice tough to follow

that was the perfect opportunity to raise your concerns regarding her kid's bad behaviour. you could have explained how you dont think you want to spend time with her all the time she is so poorly parented

gomummygo Thu 29-Sep-11 18:24:34

I suppose it is worth it aStar, but it certainly won't be easy. I really don't want her to be hurt, but of course she would be, no matter how I broach that. I can only imagine being told someone didn't want to be my friend anymore because my child's behaviour was so atrocious. sad

Her DH is lovely, Imperial, and extremely tolerant. He sort of shakes his head and takes it all in stride. The most easygoing person I've ever met, I think. What you've written sounds so right on the screen, but my stomach is in knots just thinking of actually speaking the words to her.

Thanks Tea. She's different to me, vastly, especially wrt parenting, but she has a lovely heart.

Norfolk that's what I'm doing now - the making excuses thing - but it's to the point where both she and I know it is excuses, and she is starting to wonder why. She really doesn't connect it. I don't know. I really don't want a massive row and I certainly don't want to hurt her, but arrrrgggh I just can't see a way to continue the friendship. sad

NorfolkBroad Thu 29-Sep-11 18:24:55

That is the problem I think, I don't believe there is any way you can really be comfortable together with the children once you have told her how you really feel. When her child plays up she will be well aware of what you are thinking and will feel judged...and then you will feel uncomfortable! UGH! Awkward!

There is one other idea I had. My lovely mum is in the firm but fair camp. She treats all of her grandchildren the same, telling them off whenever she sees fit whether their parents are there or not and the kids respond really, really well! Maybe you could say something to her DC in her presence such as "Please stop screeching, I'm trying to talk" or whatever. At least if they are all in your house.

SpanishPaella Thu 29-Sep-11 18:25:48

but thinks my parenting philosophy could be "stifling." Rules and all that.

in other words she is lazy and cba to parent properly.

EssentialFattyAcid Thu 29-Sep-11 18:26:45

Why not just see her in adult only situations? Seems like the obvious answer if you r parenting styles re incompatible?

gomummygo Thu 29-Sep-11 18:29:12

I wondered that PumpkinKing, but have seen child with GPs and it is totally different (appropriate) behaviour. Making it even more frustrating somehow.

You're right, Spanish. I missed the boat on that opportunity. TBH I was so floored when she said that. I felt like such an awful person in that moment - here I was trying to avoid them and she is thinking that way. <hangs head>

Guess this thread is not making me sound like a very nice person, but frankly I'm out of ideas. Sounds sad to me to end a very long friendship over a child's behaviour, but, really, what other options are there now? Hence the AIBU.

MerryMagdalene Thu 29-Sep-11 18:29:24

Christ, the kid is 5 yrs old.

I think you must lead a charmed life if this is the sort of thing that could make you bin off a lifelong friend. What if there were real issues or problems in either of your lives?

Get over yourself.

elmofan Thu 29-Sep-11 18:31:12

YANBU at all gomummy . It's sad that it has come to this though . But if you have spoken to this friend before and yet nothing has changed then i don't think talking to her about it this time will achieve any better results .
Sorry i don't really have any better advice but I've been in a similar position with a neighbour and her son who loved to break anything he could get his hands on whilst smiling at me and his mum used to smile and say " boys will be boys" which used to drive me mad .
I know you well enough to know that this would not be something you would even consider doing unless you were at your wits end sad x

Tota1Xaos Thu 29-Sep-11 18:33:26

I think you need to be honest with your friend. I feel a bit sorry for the lad - given he's at most 5 by the sounds of it, and his parents can't be bothered to try and help his social experience.

gomummygo Thu 29-Sep-11 18:35:16

I have been doing that, Norfolk, if a bit awkwardly. Never sure if it's appropriate, but I tend to wait and give her the opportunity to say something when it's in my home, and then I do say something to the effect of "please don't <whatever> at our house" - but I am usually ignored. Doesn't seem to bother friend at all when I say something, she just ignores it as well and goes on with whatever she's saying/doing. Not in a rude way, she just doesn't seem to mind either way.

We don't really have a lot of adult-only situations, Essential, and even if we did, she's made it very clear that she wants her DC to see me more.

I guess I have to be straight with her, but I just know it will hurt her. Probably enough that the friendship will be over anyway. sad

Trifle Thu 29-Sep-11 18:36:49

Special needs, 5 years old, who cares, the child sounds like a pain in the arse. He can obviously behave when required so it's totally down to poor parenting.

I excused the little shit who repeatedly spat, kicked, hit and punched my then 4 year old ds 'because of his age'. 5 years down the line the little shit still punches, kicks and hits whoever he can. Nothing to do with special needs just a lilly livered mum who puts it down to 'boys will be boys'.

I would be more inclined to write your friend a note than speak face to face so that you can ensure you are being as diplomatic as possible and not get tied in knots.

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