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Should I say something to friend or smile sweetly and let it go? (Long, sorry)

(72 Posts)
quesadilla Mon 01-Jul-13 13:13:10

Old friend (have posted about her before) who is child free and not very keen on kids, to put it mildly. I had my dd fairly late in life and we had some teething problems with her adjusting to the fact I am a parent: kicking off about my having to cancel things when dd was very sick, making no bones about the fact she can't stand hearing about people's kids etc. We had a bit of a rough time but have come out the other side and generally have a workable compromise: she accommodates the fact I have to put my family first, I have accepted she will probably never play a part in my dds life and keep discussion about my dd to a minimum.

The problem is recently she seems to be channelling some of this previous negativity into lots of very negative remarks about parenthood in general in in her work in particular in a way that I think is about to sabotage her at work. She is working on a project with another woman who has two kids. She feels that this woman is basically not up to the job as a direct result of having kids. Obviously I can't judge this woman's competence, let alone comment on her family set up, but I find this judgemental and occasionally sexist. She says things like how entitled she thinks this woman is because she basically doesn't work weekends, every time she thinks the woman isn't pulling her weight she slips in remarks like "that's what you get for working with mums." Recently she said she had given this woman a dressing down about some perceived failing and said she had told her: "if you are going to do this job for me properly you are going to have to be a bad mother for a while." I was speechless at this: I felt like saying that if my dream employer said this to me I would tell them to piss off on the spot.

It's tricky for me: I don't want to trigger another argument about this topic: it's clearly very sensitive for her, the last few rows we had about it were explosive and very upsetting so I don't want to reawaken an old argument and I want a quiet life. And I doubt she will listen.

On the other hand some of it is downright offensive: I wouldn't sit through that sort of sexist bile from a male colleague so dont see why I should tolerate it from a close (female) friend who calls herself a feminist.

And also I don't think she is doing herself any favours like this: she has a long history of falling out with colleagues and employers because of her lack of tact and I fear this woman is on the point of throwing in the towel on this project (potentially taking financial backers with her) because she is clearly not feeling appreciated by my friend and presumably having to deal with remarks like this isn't helping. It may sound sanctimonious but I genuinely feel that she needs to be told for her own good how much damage she could do to her own business.

Should I tell her that she can't get away with talking like a 1970s police chief and risk another apocalyptic argument, or should I just stay out and let her dig herself further into a hole?

persimmon Mon 01-Jul-13 19:07:30

...oops.. meant to say that while she doesn't make openly negative comments about mums, I know that it's too sensitive a subject for her. However, she isn't a rude, bullying twonk like your friend.

theboutiquemummy Mon 01-Jul-13 19:12:55

She sounds horrid but she may have some underlying prob actually not having any children herself "she protesteth too much"

However I'd back off from the friendship n let the shit hit the fan which it will eventually n when she calls you to be a character witness "oh but my best friend has children" politely decline

Wuldric Mon 01-Jul-13 19:16:30

I used to have this problem with DH. And frankly, it was a problem. He would sound off relentlessly about a solicitor in his team who had four children (that's 4 maternity leaves he had to cover) and then allegedly clockwatched and generally took the piss for the next ten years.

His tune changed remarkably once he had children. It's just ignorance tbh. People without children have no concept of the commitment involved, and the fact that that commitment is primary, and has to be primary.

To be honest, her attitudes and behaviour in the workplace are none of your business and of course you must not say anything. I suspect you are still smarting because of her treatment of you. Just smile and nod. She will learn either the hard way or the easy way. Or she won't learn at all and that will be the hardest way.

Dubjackeen Mon 01-Jul-13 19:17:15

I would be inclined to let the friendship go. To say she sounds like hard work, is putting it very mildly in my view. I am sure there are people who don't like children, and that is their own choice, but she is actively unpleasant, by the sound of it, to you, her friend, for having the 'cheek' to have a child. She is behaving disgracefully towards that colleague, unless she is actually making up the stuff, to see how far she can push things with you? She could easily find herself at the wrong side of a bullying allegation, with that sort of behaviour. One part of me, if I were you, would be tempted to let her continue to walk herself right into it. I guess I might give one last try, in whatever way you decide, and if she doesn't take the hint, I'd leave her to it.

motownmover Mon 01-Jul-13 19:30:56

I could not put up with such nonsense. "That's what you get for working for mums" that would be it for me - hate hate hate generalisations. I'd quickly tell her to concentrate on her own performance.

I've had children and have worked more than full time and I really resent people who make it hard for parents in the work place. I remember once my son was ill so I dragged him into my office to pick up work to take home to catch up over the weekend. My son was ill and sleeping and when he was better I worked all Sunday. But my boss got a complaint saying that people complained about the interruption and noise in the office from my son - who slept! I have only ever had 1 day off due to my son's illness and I made it up but I think shitty comments from people like your friend are common.

Your friend also probably doesn't have life balance as who would really want to work weekends unless they really had to.

Being bitter because a work colleague who does not work weekends is just plain weird to me.

And what the hell is wrong with people not putting in overtime. The mind boggles!!!

motownmover Mon 01-Jul-13 19:31:35

Wuldric I am glad your DH changed his attitude!

kiwigirl42 Mon 01-Jul-13 19:44:08

she sounds like a nasty bully actually. Find yourself some friends who like you as you are instead of you having to tiptoe around them.
It doesn't matter whether you've known her for 20 yrs or 10 minutes really.

foreverondiet Mon 01-Jul-13 20:49:23

I couldn't be friends with someone like this - and I have experienced similar at work - luckily I found a new (better job) very easily and then I told the ultimate boss that I was leaving due to bullying by immediate boss and that he should be relieved I found new job as it saved me the effort of legal action.

If you do want to continue to be friends maybe say something like - that its an acceptable way to talk to someone in the work place, she'll be feeling awful but it won't encourage her to spend more time at work and less time with her kids so ultimately nothing good will come of your bullying.

Belchica Mon 01-Jul-13 20:59:27

OP, what exactly are the redeeming features of this 'friend' who has been so gracious as to allow you to remain her friend since becoming a parent, but on her terms which require you to practically pretend your DC does not exist!? i cant think of any friend of mine who is good enough to merit 'keeping discussions of my DC to a minimum'!!!!

And what a cheek she has telling her co worker be a bad mother to get the job done. what exactly qualifies her to know what being a good or bad mother comes down to? Your friend sounds like a deluded spoilt brat who is used to getting her own way....keep being her friend and you simply facilitate her pathetic behaviour. And I'm not suggesting she needs to be involved in your child's life, but a good friend will be happy and excited for you, keen to hear about your DC from time to time, or even see them. A true friend would be happy you have moved into a new chapter and embrace that.

I don't think you should get involved in her work situation because even if you offer some gentle friendly advice it seems certain she will go mad at you and accuse you of bringing your family/parent status into your friendship....and she has after all banned you from that...

tigerlilygrr Tue 02-Jul-13 12:29:31

It is pretty cut and dried... You can't criticise colleagues for being parents. I hope someone with hr knowledge comes on to the thread to confirm this but I am pretty sure a female colleague would have some grounds for a sexual harassment case (because sexual harassment is interpreted extremely broadly by employment tribunals). Absolutely not saying she would win or anything, but I would say she has grounds for a strongly worded letter to hr, for example, that they'd take notice of.

As her friend I would say to her that I was concerned she's jeopardising her position at work. Whether or not there's an underlying psychological distress behind thus is kind if beside the point, if I was risking my job / good standing / promotion orospects and I could change my ways, i'd certainly want to know!

ProphetOfDoom Tue 02-Jul-13 12:43:35

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

StuntGirl Tue 02-Jul-13 12:58:03

This woman is not your friend.

Scruffey Tue 02-Jul-13 13:01:12

Another who agrees this woman isn't your friend. I would just gradually reduce contact and keep out if her work situation.

UC Tue 02-Jul-13 13:04:10

Only read the first page, so apologies if this has been covered/it's moved on.

As your friend is the boss, she needs to be very careful. If her employee leaves, she could potentially sue your friend for constructive dismissal.

Your friend sounds very unpleasant.

WhereYouLeftIt Tue 02-Jul-13 13:09:24

"It's hard to avoid the feeling that she is trying to get across the idea that she is doing it to needle me because she knows explicit anti-kid rhetoric won't be tolerated."
SO you already KNOW in your guts that all her poison is really an attack on YOU, personally.

Why do you still consider this woman a friend? When you said " I know she sounds awful on paper, but she can be really lovely and we go back over 20 years" I immediately thought of an abusive partner, cycling between nice and nasty to keep their plaything partner destabilised and attached. Have you considered that she might be just the same? Being "really lovely" often enough so that you'll stay around and be her punchbag for whatever ails her soul? Is that what you really want to continue?

I hope this emloyee-woman walks and takes her funding with her.

daisychain01 Tue 02-Jul-13 13:48:44

Quesadilla When any relationship gets to the stage where there is so little 'feel good factor' - either life paths have diverged in opposite directions, or just because the friendship has gone past its sell by date - then its time to acknowledge that (if only privately, rather than some big announcement that will cause distress) and let things go. All that festering, feeling p'ed off every time the person ends up hitting that hot button (be it about children, money or whatever). It cant be good for you. And its taking up too much of that headspace better devoted to the people you really chime with.

As for her negative behaviour towards people with children, whats the point in getting fed up. She sounds resolutely in the camp of "its my opinion and Im not going to budge!" Brigade. You will never change her by saying anything! Sorry if this sounds absolute. I dont want it to seem like "lazy thinking" to say dont bother, its just from what you say, it has gone on far too long.

I think many of us, me included, have continued friendships way beyond the time they give us joy, because of habit, tradition, past shared history rather than what they should be about, which is happy - even if diverse -exchanges and interactions.

Good luck!

LemonPeculiarJones Tue 02-Jul-13 13:52:45

Hey OP

Knowing your friend for 20 years is irrelevant.
If you met her today you wouldn't want to be her friend, hearing her dismiss, undermine and criticise her colleague in that way.

And every time she criticises her colleague she is also taking the opportunity to criticise, belittle and attack you.

Don't keep people in your life out of sentimentality. Especially if they treat you like crap.

JamieandtheMagicTorch Tue 02-Jul-13 18:15:17

"This is just another way or circumventing your 'agreement' to criticise you for having a child"

Excellent summary Schmalzing

And that's not any friends I'd want to have, really.

Don't care about her issues.

JamieandtheMagicTorch Tue 02-Jul-13 18:15:35

any friend

Does she dish out the same vitriol to working fathers? If not, then she is attacking this women for a characteristic that only applies to women i.e. being a mother. She could be on very thin ice.

sittinginthesun Tue 02-Jul-13 18:29:46

I think hanging onto this friendship is unhealthy, tbh. People do move apart when their circumstances change - it is natural.

Your life has changed, and I find it absolutely crazy that you can have a close friendship where you feel awkward about discussing your child. Nothing to do with being a baby bore, your life and priorities have just changed.

It's the same at work - if you are a working parent, then you are a working parent! Why pretend otherwise. It doesn't stop you doing your job, or being a productive employee or colleague.

I get quite cross about this. I think you need to be honest, and true to yourself, rather than tiptoe around her. If she slags off her work colleague, and you feel she has overstepped the line, then tell her.

And talk about your dd. if it annoys your friend, she will just have to live with it!

quesadilla Tue 02-Jul-13 23:34:02

Yes I think those of you saying I should let her go are probably right. Other mutual friends with children have basically cut ties. I guess knowing someone a long time can really cloud one's judgement.

For the last few months I have tried to keep things on a more distant and less emotional footing, maybe I just need to speed it up and disengage emotionally.

Thanks all...

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