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AIBU - told friend it isn't my fault she can't cope with her brood

(80 Posts)
EspressoMonkey Wed 26-Jun-13 10:46:44

We live abroad and have two DCs, 3 and 1. I would like more but feel at the moment that 2 is our lot. We have no family support and my DH works long hours and spends a lot of time out of the country.

I am friends with another expat mum who has 3 DC, aged 4, 2 and 1 and she is pregnant with her 4th. She struggles to cope and so doesn't take her DCs out by herself. I often help her with her DCS when we are out and about at the park, zoo etc. I do it whenever possible and have been happy to do so.

Last week we all went to the outdoor pool. It was a hot day and we agreed to meet outside the pool complex at a certain time. We were on time but my friend and her DCs were 35 mins late, thus my DCs and myself stood outside in the heat waiting for them. We did this as we have membership which gives my friend a discount on her admission.

When she arrived her DCs were not ready for the pool, but mine already had sun lotion and swim suits on. My DCs are hot and bothered because we were waiting around so we went straight in and i said to my friend "see you in the pool when you are all ready".

I had my hands full in the pool, DC2 is not very steady on her feet and so was holding both my hands. DC1 found the water cold and was a bit apprehensive. Another friend's DC waded over to us and chatted to us and played so i felt as if i had the responsibility of three DCs. I was coping but it was not relaxed.

Then there was a bit of commotion at the other end of the pool, splashing etc. The pool was very busy, there were plenty of mums and dads in there with free hands. I briefly glanced over at the commotion but then another DC splashed my eldest in the face, who then started crying. Her friend then hit this other DC and i had to break up a squabble, speaking a mixture of English and French so all parties understood. It was hectic.

A while later my friend joined us in the pool. She was very off with me and asked why i hadn't helped her 2YO DD when he was struggling in the pool? Then i realised that the commotion was her DD struggling in the water. I apologised but said that i didn't know that the child who was splashing about was her DD, i had my hands full at the time plus there were lots of parents in the pool with free hands who helped her out anyway. What i didn't say was that your DCs are your responsibility and you never asked me to be responsible for your DD. I didn't even know she was in the pool!

My friend then made a big deal about how she can't come to the pool without adult help as she can't cope and that i KNOW that etc. I had enough of her using me as free childcare and snapped back that "it isn't my fault you can't cope". I was hot, and bit ratty because yet again we had been standing around waiting for them. My youngest DC is now mobile and needs my help more than ever. My hands are pretty full as it is. I will help her as much as i can but my DCs come first from now on. We didn't have a third DC as i feel i wouldn't cope. My friend will shortly have four DCs under 4.

AIBU and how do i get our friendship back on track without being her unpaid childminder again?

WhoNickedMyName Wed 26-Jun-13 13:08:57

YANBU and there's no reason to drag out a friendship that isn't working just because your two eldest children get along.

At this point you've got nothing to lose, so just make it very clear to her that you can handle your own two children but won't be responsible for any more.

And then try and make some new friends.

dubstarr73 Wed 26-Jun-13 13:42:45

I have 5 altogether but the younger 3 are small.There is no way id go to teh pool with 3 young kids and pregnant without my partner or older kids.
You have your own kids who must come first especially around water.

Id say to her i cant helpin situations like that because i have my own kids.And if she sulks let teh friendship die.

expatinscotland Wed 26-Jun-13 13:52:22

Start cutting her a wide birth.

expatinscotland Wed 26-Jun-13 13:56:05

Why feel sorry for her? It's a self-created situation?

MiaowTheCat Wed 26-Jun-13 14:03:33

I had two under 1 at one point (currently two under 15 months) - while it can be incredibly hard getting out of the house - I don't ever expect other people to take more responsibility for them than the occasional "can you just keep a loose eye on X while I run do Y's nappy really quickly" and even then I feel guilty doing so.

OTTMummA Wed 26-Jun-13 14:14:23

I have 2, I would love at least 1 more, but we won't because I can't cope with anymore!
Don't feel bad for her, she knows how hard it is by now yet she has chosen to go and get pregnant again.

I would tell her to get some professional help like a nanny, or au pair because she will quickly lose a lot of friends if she is just expecting everyone to rally round and help her raise her children whilst side-lining their own.

Completely Ridiculous statement that you know she struggles! like you are her partner or something confused That shows you how entitled she feels!

TotallyBursar Wed 26-Jun-13 14:39:49


Of course I have sympathy for her, it sounds like she's finding things very difficult but that is no excuse to take such liberties with you.
She is not only taking the piss - which could be sorted with some firm boundaries - she is not coping to the point of dangerousness.

Her child could have easily drowned.

You are unlikely to get your friendship back on track because she doesn't see you as a friend, she sees you as unpaid help and is unhappy when you don't provide this service.
She needs to invest in a nanny or au pair if she needs help with childcare. You are not obliged to put your own children at risk to parent hers.

I have a large family, I know it is hard, but we don't rely on anyone else because our children are our responsibility. We are grateful for offers of babysitting or days out but they are always greeted with a thank you and a reciprocal offer.
It is hard to be the supportive friend in this case as it is not what she wants from you.
Her DH eeds to step up to the plate - but good luck having any opinion on that.

Mimishimi Wed 26-Jun-13 15:20:48

Tell her that you've come as her friend, not as her help. That you are happy to help if you can but if she is finding it difficult to manage ( which is not surprising at all), she needs to hire someone without kids of their own to manage to help her as well.

BridgetBidet Wed 26-Jun-13 15:28:17

YANBU for not realizing her child was struggling, YANBU for thinking you were not responsible for her child. She was being unreasonable with the way she spoke to you and the way she used you for childcare. YANBU to say something back.

However I think YWBVU with the 'you can't cope' comment. It was cruel and too personal. By all means tell her off for her expectations of you. But there was no need to essentially tell her she's a shit parent.

Greyhound Wed 26-Jun-13 15:47:46

How dare she! How rude. Her offspring are not your responsibility. If she can't cope with three kids in a pool (the pool near me won't allow fewer than one adult per child) then she needs to employ a nanny and not expect free childcare from you or anyone else.

MammaTJ Wed 26-Jun-13 16:04:55

I have one even funnier than that, from a few years ago.

A lot of us had been invited to a Christening. My 'friends' DC were around 6 and 8, but were very lively. Mine were 5 months and 17 months old, as anyone would realise, a handfull. My 'friend' said she didn't want to go to the Christening but would I pop over and show her my DC in their 'posh' outfits before we went. We were just about on time getting ready, quickly dashed over and found her in a really odd mood with me.

Apparently I should have realised that she could not cope with her two children at the Christening and I should have realised that and offered to help her out. That lack of offer was the real reason she didn't want to go to the Christening. grin

I have no clue how you can get things back on track, or indeed why you would want to. Good luck.

somanystripes Wed 26-Jun-13 16:23:26

MammaTJ that's just weird. Some people are so entitled it's untrue...

Eyesunderarock Wed 26-Jun-13 16:51:19

I once got saddled with three extra children when I was on holiday with mine in the IOW, for several hours.
Because I taught one of them the year before.
I was so unprepared for that level of cheek that even though I am usually a weasel of great cunning, it was around 30 minutes before I realised WTF had happened.
Parents had shoved off to something they wanted to see without the bother of children.

xylem8 Wed 26-Jun-13 16:59:13

I am guess the 2 yr old/ sprinted or snuck off rather than your friend telling her to go off and play in the pool by herself!!

Justforlaughs Wed 26-Jun-13 17:15:11

Be honest with her, tell her that you want to stay friends but you can't be expected to take responsibility for her children as well as your own, even more so if she doesn't ask you to. Set rules, pool dates are OUT, evenings out together are great and play dates in safe enviroments are fine as well. It sounds like you were both stressed and probably in slight shock after a close call at the pool.

TotallyBursar Wed 26-Jun-13 20:42:27

But Xylem as we all know, that's what 2 year olds do - particularly lively ones.

It could have been much worse, luck and handy adults stopped a drowning, it's why toddlers - just like the OP's - need supervision all the time.

I also don't blame OP for what she said. Would I regret it? The words, yes, but not the sentiment. If a pool incident didn't give her a wake up call then maybe it is just cruel enough to change her attitude. Because she is actually being a shit parent. I repeat I have sympathy for her but you don't get to fuck up like that twice. It could
be the pool, darting under a car, head first down the stairs...
It is our choice to have our children but it is also the children that suffer if we can't cope or take the brunt of our poor decisions. That's the responsibility of being a parent - doing your damnedest to get it right, even when it feels like you're hanging on for grim death.

mumofweeboys Wed 26-Jun-13 20:56:01

I wouldnt dream of taking children those ages to a pool without another adult with no other children. I have 3 under 4 and only take them to managable situations - soft play, friends enclosed garden if Im bymyself. Surely if she is pregnant she has to be getting an nanny or something to help out, its only sensible.

SanityClause Wed 26-Jun-13 21:01:00

In the UK, she wouldn't even be allowed in with three little ones. At all the pools nearby us, it is one adult per two children under 8.

Corygal Wed 26-Jun-13 21:08:50

YANBU. People like this annoy the tits off me. I imagine you're dreading the arrival of the 4th baby - trust me, so is everyone else she knows.

She was rude and selfish to keep you waiting too. She needs an au pair. Meet at her house only.

goingdownhill Wed 26-Jun-13 21:13:54

I was an expat with three dc under three. It was very, very hard going. However I would not of dreamed of expecting my friends to take over any responsibility for them. I chose their age gaps so I have to suck it up. I did however grind my teeth at my friends that had one and always managed to be late, as they could not possibly get out of the house on time. smile

fuckwittery Wed 26-Jun-13 21:18:59

You've got two DC, she's got three. Even if you help her with one, one of your will have to look after three DC at once, so this doesnt make things easier, just shifts the balance of difficulty. What you need when you meet up is a friend with one or no DC grin

Neither of you would have been allowed in the pool where I live, it is one to one supervision for under 5s, so I cant go to the pool with my 6 year old and 3 year old.

MammaTJ Wed 26-Jun-13 22:25:54

somanystripes (I can so relate to your SN) that is about the sum of it. They kept telling me theywould babt sit for my DC when they slept through the night, but their little shits darlings never settled till near the time they came home totally wasted and not just in drink. They kept a total tally of all they had done for me even when they had begged to have the babies and totally ignored all I (and my DP) had done for them.

TheRealFellatio Thu 27-Jun-13 05:13:09

I get really cheesed off with people who choose to have more children too close together than they can physically or financially cope with, and then spend their time whingeing about how tough it is and expecting everyone else (especially GPs) to rally round and lighten their load - not as a favour but almost as a duty! hmm

YANBU, you have your own priorities, her children are not your problem, and if she can't see that she's a twat.

If you are going away over the hot summer months, then have a nice break from her and use that as a chance to distance yourself a bit when things get back to normal in September.

TimeofChange Thu 27-Jun-13 06:55:40

How about a paddling pool in the friend's garden and you visit her?

kilmuir Thu 27-Jun-13 07:03:43

she was insane to take so many young children to a swimming pool, thankfully not allowed in our local pool.
I have 4 children and it is hard work at times but I would not expect someone else to help if they were busy with their own.

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