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about keeping dcs happy? My friends think I am.

(98 Posts)
frangiponi Tue 13-May-14 03:43:13

I have 3 friends I see more than my other friends. We have dcs of similar ages and meet up a lot together. Mostly everything goes alone fine and the kids get along well but there is one issue: I feel that they revolve things too much around their dc(s) and will do anything to keep them happy. They feel that I am a bit mean and stingy. We've not had arguments about this as such but it has come up in discussions a lot and it's starting to be a problem in that I don't want to spend as much time with them.

3 recent examples:

1. Friend A has an 8yo, as do I. I also have a 14yo and 12yo. We planned to meet with all dcs at the weekend. Friend's dd wants to go to softplay. My 8yo would enjoy that but not my older 2, which I explained. She won't compromise as her dd will kick off if we don't do softplay.

2. Friend B is currently annoyed with me as I told my dd that an old friend of hers might be in town at the weekend, so we could meet up, maybe. My dd told Friend's dd but Friend did not want her dd to know in case she had to disappoint her if they couldn't meet. It had never occurred to me that my dd wouldn't be able to cope with a bit of disappointment.

3. Friend C buys her dd a new iphone and tells my dcs that they should pester me more as their electronics are all old (it's true, but...)


frangiponi Tue 13-May-14 10:17:24

Hmm, I am not too comfortable with buying food which goes to waste. I realise that I didn't have any say in what my friend did in that situation but I would never buy my dcs more food than they need knowing half of it would be wasted. I want them to appreciate things cost money!

Georgethesecond Tue 13-May-14 10:23:21

I completely agree with you, OP. And now mine are teens I see the mums who have acted like your friends struggling a lot more than I am. My two are hardworking boys who work when get need to, get up for the school bus and accept what is their responsibility - to ask for lifts in advance, get places on their own when appropriate, save money for things they want. They honestly are a pleasure., even if occasionally grumpy. And my friends who have let their kids dictate are stressed to hell trying to keep track of them and make them revise. I know I sound smug. But it has really come back to bite them in the arse, and I knew it would, it was bloody obvious.

bakingaddict Tue 13-May-14 10:32:19

I think there is more back story to this. Why would your friends think you 'mean and stingy' to the extent it's threatening friendships.

I do things differently to my friends but it doesn't cause any issues. Is it necessary to take along the teenagers, do they actually enjoy spending time with 8 yr olds? Perhaps seeing the children as more individuals and less as one homogenous group might ease some of the tension and just let the smaller ones hang out together.

You made the call regarding the chips, it's for you as an adult to accept with good grace that the decision didn't go your way not trying to impose your belief system onto somebody else's child. IMO it's up to parents to instill this into their own children and I would never over-step the mark by trying to do this with friends kids. Perhaps this is where the crux on the problem is, that they see you as not respecting their right to parent as they see fit.

bakingaddict Tue 13-May-14 10:33:25

Sorry 'crux of' not 'crux on'

StanleyLambchop Tue 13-May-14 10:56:31

It's good manners to be gracious to someone who gives you something in that situation I feel. It's also good to teach children that wasting food is to be avoided if possible. She was hungry but she wanted popcorn not chips. She does like chips, but she wanted popcorn.

But it is also ok to say no to not eating something you don't want to. You took a chance in buying the chips without asking, as someone up thread said you should then be gracious about her turning the chips down. Presumably this trip was meant as a treat, something enjoyable. Therefore why couldn't she have to eat what she wanted?

Personally in that situation I would have thanked you for the chips, but not made my DD eat them if she did not want them. How many times on MN do we see the expression 'No is a complete sentence'. Why can it not refer to children as well? Do they not get to say no if they don't want to eat something that they did not request and has been imposed on them?

I see what you are saying about manners but I would feel uncomfortable about forcing children to eat something they did not want in these circumstances.

DeWee Tue 13-May-14 11:21:48

On point 1, you were just as guilty in giving your dc a say though. She suggested something that the 8yos would enjoy, you said no because your older ones wouldn't enjoy it.
It can be hard to find things that that range of ages all enjoy -I have 13 through to 6yo, and there are some things they all enjoy. But it tends to mean imput, and I'd guess she was thinking that way you could sit down as friends and chat rather than chase after the children. I tend to find that if it's something suitable for all, then either the younger needs a certain amount of help, or the older finds there isn't enough.
If I'd been you, I would have probably left the older two at home. Or if they'd wanted to come, happily given them the entrance money (because they'd either be too old to go on so you wouldn't pay entrance fees or if they were allowed on, they'd be just as happy doing that as my 6yo) to spend in the cafe and let them feel grown up having a drink and a cake, and they'd quite enjoy reading/playing on electronic devices etc. in the corner. I have done that at times, when friends with ones ds' age suggest meeting at soft play.

Point 2: I agree with your friend. I wouldn't tell my dc if it was a "maybe/perhaps" situation. I wouldn't be cross with you for telling yours, but it's much nicer for them to be excited because they have a nice surprise, than disappointed because the person can't come.

Point 3: Does depend on how it came up. Your dc say "you've got a great iphone, I wish I had one" (or whatever) she says "you'll have to ask your mum". Would be a perfectly reasonable discussion. Is your dc are asking "How come she's got a better phone?" and she says "pester your mum rather than me..."

I used to get a lot of comments until I upgraded my phone last year. I said it wasn't a smart phone, it was a "stupid-old-phone"-but it was perfectly modern when I got it... second hand in 2000, didn't even do predictive text. Often people asked when I would upgrade and things like that. Didn't worry me. When I got my new phone (still not expensive) I've had lots of comments about "joining everyone else in the 21st Century". grin

As a child I didn't like chips, still not bothered about them. I wouldn't have asked for anything else, nor would I have moaned, but I wouldn't have eaten them, particularly without a drink I would find them uneatable.

frangiponi Tue 13-May-14 12:01:54

Georgethesecond I think my dcs behave pretty well, they have their moments of course. Not sure how much is down to luck though!

bakingaddict there's no back story, apart from knowing each other for years and the kids growing up together since they were little. We sometimes meet up with just the little ones but equally they all enjoy each others' company particularly if it's just hanging out at one anothers' houses. I don't think I overstepped the mark with the chips/popcorn - I didn't say anything to my friend, but she has made comments several times about why I won't buy this or that for my dcs. I often feel pressured into buying things I don't want to because the others are all getting whatever it is.

stanleylambchop if I had felt in that situation that my child would not have wanted the chips and there might have been an unpleasant scene, I wouldn't have pushed it but I sure as hell wouldn't be buying them anything else to eat.

DeWee I thought we could have come up with something which everyone would enjoy? Seeing as the plan all along was to spend the afternoon together. I don't necessarily agree about the nice surprise either - no-one in my family likes surprises actually! The phone situation was literally the mum saw my older dd on her phone and started talking about how her dd has persuaded her that she "needed" the new iphone and my dd should try doing the same as you do need to be kept up to date, or something....

thegreylady Tue 13-May-14 12:30:54

Just thinking about soft play-my 7 and a half year old dgs is begining to find it a bit boring now and we go to please his 5 year old brother. I can't imagine him liking it for much longer though.

StanleyLambchop Tue 13-May-14 12:36:24

Ok Frangiponi we will have to agree to differ then, as I would sure as hell not have deprived my DD of the popcorn she wanted because she did not want to eat the chips which were being foisted on her without consulting her first. Maybe that is what you need to do with your friend. Agree you have different parenting styles and then leave each other to it.

frangiponi Tue 13-May-14 12:42:31

In theory that's fine but in practice not so easy when it starts to affect all the things you try to do together.

Sirzy Tue 13-May-14 12:47:44

I think all this shows is different approaches, none of them are right or wrong situations.

I would never assume what someone else would like to eat, I would ask them what they fancied or at least give them a couple of options. Doesn't matter if you like something sometimes you just don't fancy it.

frangiponi Tue 13-May-14 12:51:02

There wasn't time for that in this situation. We had to decide. I still think an 8yo can be expected to be flexible.

Sirzy Tue 13-May-14 12:55:22

Surely you could have even sent a text saying "as we are pushed for time I will get the food what does your DD want?" or when they arrived just said "I haven't got anything for her yet as I wasn't sure what she would want?"

There was time for her mum to get her the popcorn!

frangiponi Tue 13-May-14 13:04:00

She had to talk her way into the actual film to bring it to her - that's how little time there was because they were running late and we were waiting!

StanleyLambchop Tue 13-May-14 13:09:02

I still think an 8yo can be expected to be flexible

It is easy to say that when your own children, two of whom are older , presumably got to chose whether they wanted chips or not.

I think you both have differing expectations of each other TBH. Why not just gradually cut back contact, so you don't see each other that often.

I actually think YABU. RE the soft play centre - the kids are different ages so you need to find an actvity they can all happily do or just meet when the older ones aren't about.

Re disappointment - some kids can handle it, some can't, there is no right or wrong. Just because you know your kid is ok with last minute change of plans doesn't mean the same for all of us. When DS was little he didn't take disappointment very well so I often used to avoid mentioning stuff just in case it got changed. You know what, if it makes my life easier so what.

Re electronic gadgets - I'll give you that one, none of her business how old your stuff is, it's not a requirement to have the latest of everything.

Def being U re the chips at the cinema - you made a decision and it was wrong. Why should her DC eat chips if she wants popcorn. Different if she had asked for them and then changed her mind but she didn't ask - maybe she was looking forward to the cinema and had popcorn in her mind. When we take DS to the pictures we always have pick and mix, never chips, he looks forward to it.

You do sound a bit like you expect everyone to parent how you do and if they don't then them and their DC are the unreasonable ones. Everyone parents in a different way and if you find it such a problem reaching a compromise then just cut back and don't see them as much and socalise with more like minded people.

frangiponi Tue 13-May-14 13:18:19

But they are not that little at 8 - God forbid our dcs should have to be disappointed!

But if it makes her life easier by just not mentioning it where is the harm - it's more for her sanity I imagine than the actual thought of her child being disappointed.

Just try and see it from someone elses point of view. Maybe her daughter is a tantrum queen. My DS certainly was, grown out of it now but I would say only in the last couple of years so probably about 9. It's no fun having a child that tantrums so if it can be avoided then why not?

Sirzy Tue 13-May-14 13:21:43

But if you knew something would upset your child surely you would avoid
that situation as much as possible?

Actually the more you post the more I think YABU and VERY judgemental of people who don't parent in the exact way you think they should

bubalou Tue 13-May-14 13:22:26

It doesn't sound too bad to be honest, of course you are all going to have different parenting styles and yes it may be annoying but that's what you have to deal with when you have friends with kids.

Surely your 12 and 14 year old are old enough to go somewhere with their friends that day rather than hang out with mum and their 8 yo sibling (no offence).


frangiponi Tue 13-May-14 13:23:19

I've said already that it's up to her what she does but she is annoyed with ME for telling my dd, who told her dd. I didn't know it was supposed to be a secret.

whatever5 Tue 13-May-14 13:23:58

I think that you're being unreasonable with 1 but not 2 or 3.
1) I doubt that there is anything that would suit all children of different ages. I would have gone to the softplay with the younger one and left the other two at home. Alternatively we wouldn't have met up with friend A.
2) YANBU How were you supposed to know that friend B didn't want her dd to know?
3) friend c shouldn't be telling her dd to pester you for things. It's none of her business.

frangiponi Tue 13-May-14 13:25:02

Yes, my older dcs can go off on their own but we had planned specifically to do something together. My friend knows that softplay isn't ideal for my teens and did a half-hearted attempt to get her dd to do something else, but wouldn't push it because she always kicks off or "gives me a hard time later" as she says.

This time of year you would be hard pushed to find an activity that both a 14 year old and an 8 year old will enjoy doing together (unless they are really close or siblings).

Soft play wasn't ideal for your teens but then what would be ideal for your teens would not be ideal for her 8 year old....but of course her 8 year old should be more accommodating than your teens.

It's a difficult one but really there is too much of a difference for the kids to all socialise together so you just need to do stuff apart.

Goldmandra Tue 13-May-14 13:36:24

I'm with you, OP.

Children whose every whim is not pandered to learn to manage disappointment and compromise and it stands them in good stead in later life.

I have to bite my tongue very hard when friends try to plan every aspect of our time together around exactly what their DCs want for fear of tantrums and just expect my DCs to go along with it because they can be relied upon not to kick off or sulk.

I don't mind catering for all the children's likes and dislikes when planning treats but, if you arrive late and hungry to a cinema and someone has bought your child food that they like, you should be teaching them to accept it with good grace. Running round like a headless chicken to get them something else and then having to talk your way into a film after it has started is ridiculous.

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