Playdates with children, who have been unkind in the past(20 Posts)
Name change for this one because I want to say how I feel! DD (7) is in a main group of friends with 4 girls total. Quite a few parents at DD's school are controlling and manage their children's friendships. There are a lot parental cliques and I have been told by parents with children in other years that our year at school is one of the bad ones for this. I used to be a lot more friendly with the three other mums and until recently considered myself a friend of one of them as we used to socialise together but they have become more friendly to my exclusion. Going out, parental birthday parties etc. I'm chronically ill btw so I wouldn't necessarily have been able to go even if invited. I also appreciate friendships move on even in adulthood.
It all started two years ago - when DD was in year 1. Friend no 1. Something happened between my DDs absolute bestie and my DD, which was wildly misinterpreted and whatever the parents said, the child refused to play with my DD for 6 months and actively tried to get the others to do so as well. The school were aware of the situation and couldn't do anything apart from assist DD because there was no evidence of actual adult on child bullying on the school grounds. Friend no 2. DD had play dates with the child and then they stopped around 2 and a half years ago so pre dating said incident above. I don't know why and assume it is because my DD and her DD squabble on play dates more than with other children and I think the mother just can't be bothered. These two parents regularly have the other 3 girls over on play dates but haven't had my DD over for more than 2 years and it was made clear neither parent wanted their children to come to my house either despite dh having taken them both for a day out when they were 5/6 so it isn't a matter of trust. Friend no 3. This is the child, whose mother and I used to be pretty friendly. DD continued to have periodic play dates with this child until around 8 months or so ago. Parents both work and the child has a couple of siblings so a busy family. About 4 months ago I tried to ask the mother in the playground if her DD wanted to come over to play and she was in a rush and tbh a bit stressed and not terribly pleasant (she'd just spent 10 minutes chatting and laughing with another mother). So instead I sent her a text. No reply. Saw friend no 3 in the playground being dropped off by childcare a couple of days later so I asked her mother had had the text and if she wanted to come over. She said "no" and gave me a big smarmy smile. The mother saw me briefly about a week later and said she would respond to the text and never did. I already had my answer from the child anyway. Then a few days later, the mother had time to invite friend 1 on a play date at their place. So she's not actually that busy!
Fast forward to now. Friend 3 has asked to come over on a play date. Two years ago because of the upset and preferential treatment of the other 3 children, I got DD very very busy so she didn't have time to think about the real pain inflicted on her. She was refusing school, having stomach aches, emotionally stagnating and this was all on top of trying to deal with a really chronically ill mummy. Slowly we introduced play dates with other children when she was ready. We chose children who she liked and friendly mums, who were clearly not part of the cliques. I really don't want to ask the mother of friend 3 again if her DD wants to come over in case she is playing games and says no. I also think it smacks of desperation on our part. This is historical - I tried to continue playdates both with mothers of friend 1 and 2 because DD pestered me so much and was really desperate. DD also asked these mothers and they either blatantly ignored her, told her they'd organise something before X holidays and never did or even told her daughter infront of my DD that it was time to have friend 1 over, not her.
AIBU to tell my DD no, I don't want friend 3 over after the fiasco? I have told her I don't want to ask btw. I just feel that by refusing, I'm now being like these mummies and I'm really not like that.
You seem to be investing a lot of time and effort into people who cause you a lot of anguish. Can you not just continue play dates with the other children you mentioned who seem a bit more friendly and save yourself a lot of worry? Would you not feel happier spending time with people who are actually nice to you and your DD? Good luck with it all.
Laura thank you. I know I agree I am really over invested. DD is adamant she wants her friend over and dh thinks I'm being unreasonable.
You say the other mums are overinvested but you do sound pretty invested yourself!
I would be guided by what your daughter wants to do, if she likes child 3, have her over, if she doesn't want a playdate, don't do one.
You are facilitating her social time, not making moral judgments.
YANBU. I would not want to go through the upset of inviting the children for playdates and being refused every time.
Can you tell your DD that if her friend wants a playdate, she should have her mum invite your DD at her house? That puts the onus on the other mum for a change.
HP I don't think I'm making moral judgements and my overinvestment is a reflection on dds feelings. I've tried very hard for her to make friendships outside this group as well. Bar telling her she can't play with these children - which I won't - I don't know what to do.
leelu66 yes that's what I told DD and it's not likely to happen. The other child only gets to do playdates once a month and is choosing other friends.
Yes, but your objection to mum 3 is that she was busy one time and didn't follow up your invitation- perhaps the girls weren't getting on so well at this time. Before this you had playdates and it sounds like the girls still play together at school and you and the mum were friendly. These things ebb and flow, I haven't invited some children over for 8 months recently as we have been very busy, but had the odd friend who lives round the corner over, it's sometimes what you can do.
It is clear that despite you wanting your dd to be friends with other girls outside the clique, your dd wants to be friends with dd3 at least.
My dds have sometimes chosen children I've not been that keen on, or where it's taken years for the parents to even ask them over/get quite a few refusals (one in particular) and I think it's part and parcel of learning what makes a good friend. It is annoying when they pick some child who isn't great for some reason, but in this situation, I don't see any issue with the child herself, you just feel dissed by the mother.
It might be worth asking in a 'no worries if not' way if child 3 wants to come over, if the answer is ignoring/no then you know not to ask again for a while, but I would still invite the child to parties/things if your dd is good friends with her.
Thank you for the reply HP. It's not just the one time - she's been pretty abrasive to me a number of times and then is lovely and smiley other times. I just find her really difficult to deal with. I know it's her issues not mine on that score. I didn't have many friends at school because of being easily hurt and I'm trying hard not to push the legacy on.
I'm an all inclusive parent so they're all going to be invited to birthday coming up. I'll think about the 'no worries' style invite. Any suggestions?
The child has also been a "cheeky madam" at times around and to me - the mothers words not mine. Yet it's left to continue.
Friendship groups do chop and change at this age but I'd also be wary of what I am teaching my child about how I expect to be treated in a friendship. It's not a clear cut situation so there's no right or wrong here. You could either tell DD she can have a play date with another one of her friends instead and explain why, or you could invite friend 3 but if it backfires you talk to your DD about how one sided friendships aren't worth it and encourage her to focus on the friendships that are more equal. she will be upset but this is something that everyone has to learn at some stage unfortunately. I'd be more inclined to go with the second option as otherwise you look like the baddy when you are just trying to protect her and yourself from more drama and your DD won't learn anything from it. But then again i wouldnt want to watch it all unfold. Good luck!
All I can say is that this type of make friends/break friends and groups and cliques is the standard stuff of the 7-10 year old (I have girls so no idea if boys are similar, some say no). My dd wouldn't learn that friends who suddenly turn on people tend to do that to you. She has had to learn to stand up for herself as well, when suddenly the wind changed and someone was rude to her/excluded for a short while.
I just think the less you engineer this stuff the better. If her friend is cheeky at your house, deal with it straightforwardly. Otherwise I have a horrible feeling your attempt to keep this child 3 at arms length is backfiring and making her more attractive as a friend, not less.
If you don't have time for playdates, or want to have others with other children, fine, but my dd was obsessed about a certain child coming around our house for two years! She did eventually (parents a bit flaky, no invites to theirs) and the moment has passed and it's less interesting now.
Yes, I'm getting to understand that friendships change and there is a lot of inclusion/exclusion at this age. I talk to DD a lot and I suppose not everyone has the time to do this. I teach DD to be inclusive and its difficult to tackle when other parents don't seem to be doing the same. DD used to be rather obsessive about friends, which is why I encouraged her to play with more children. The wider her friendship group, the less this group will be important to her. Perhaps I am projecting, however, I strongly believed that this child wouldn't refuse a play date with friend 1 or 2. I'm at the school gates every day so I see dd's friends going off with eachothers parents so I know playdates are still going on. This isn't the first time the child has refused a play date at our house. Four months ago when she refused, she told my daughter the reason for saying no was that DD always plays the same things but actually she did want to come - as long as DD played something else. It just all seems to be very game playing and neither DD or I are good at games. Part of me feels that the child needs to be taught a lesson but then on the other hand, I don't have the energy for this and maybe I should drop a short text to her mother and invite her again.
Hmm, it does sound very tiring. But if your dd wants a playdate with her, I would probably ask after a decent interval (to see if they are really friends again and it's not just a flash in the pan/going to change next week).
You can't control how inclusive other people are, though or teach a 7 year old a lesson, it's just not your job.
Perhaps the child does prefer 1 and 2 most of the time, but also is happy to go on the odd playdate elsewhere.
If mum is rude/ignores/they say no, be honest with your child. Just say I don't know why they said no or didn't respond, it's a bit rude isn't it and leave them to come to their own conclusion.
Sadly you can't bypass this learning curve for your dd I don't think!
HPsauciness I have both and I do find it seems to be more common with girls, well at least the girls I have come across. Boys still fight and argue but they seem to forget it when someone gets a football out!
My daughter was in a class which was alot more boys and a small group of girls who were pretty toxic. It was such a relief when she moved to senior school at 11, we picked a school that not many would go to from her school and asked for her to be in a different form to the couple of girls who went from her junior school.
I have been in your position and invited the child round and she trashed my daughter's bedroom! Bit extreme so I hope that doesn't happen in your case. I don't think there is an easy answer but I don't regret that I gave it a go for my daughter, just a shame it didn't work out.
Thank you for all your responses. HPsauciness yes, that could be the answer. Wait a week or two and see if DD still wants her to come, I can ask a few questions without DD suspecting like if they're playing together at school etc then send a casual text to her mother. She and DD have known each other since they were 2 btw.
grannytomine wow that sounds extreme! Your poor DD that's really sad and I'm glad she managed to get through this. There are less girls too in dds class but it's a large class so it's not that bad and the school seem relatively hot on bullying.
Itsmine yes, I feel as though I've gone back in time - back to school with the mean girls. I'm not included because I'm too much hard work I imagine. The three of them have family locally and don't grasp what it's like to really really struggle to do basic things like get your child to school and pick them up, feed them. It's very hard to understand that at times I'm so ill I am physically unable to talk let alone smile. They all know I'm ill and have seen me many many times shuffling along at a snails pace as well as collapse in the playground. These days I just give a quick smile, say hello and keep walking. I've been hurt by many many friends, who've fallen away because they haven't seen much of an improvement in my health and I imagine I'm considered as too much hard work by them too.
Sounds difficult - not sure if you are a Sahm - this is a very personal opinion but I have found since becoming one (accidental via redundancy) a lot of these types of issues loom large as their is a danger of becoming over invested or slightly losing perspective. I think just grin and bear it most kids in time can figure it out for themselves
I now will intervene if I think it's needed and give guidance but I also accept part of my role is in equipping/supporting DC to deal with difficult situations and not allow them to dominate or become a bigger issue than they need to. I know it may sound a cliche but one of the things I have been keen on is encouraging hobbies /activities were other classmates are not likely to be present to encourage friendships outside of school and to build the confidence to make friendships outside of the small group of school friends. I have even on one occasion chosen a football team that is not the preferred school mates team just to broaden DC horizons a bit - and it's been a great success as it now doubles his friendship circle.
But you are right cliques amongst parents are rife and seem to affect some classes and years more than others - so often those cliques are then cemented even further via the children with certain children being preferred friends because of the mothers relationships. To be honest sort of glad I haven't become overly friendly as have seen it go badly wrong between mothers and it's the children who suffer as child cannot understand why they are no longer allowed to play with X because his mother has fallen out with Y. Is mother at our school a queen bee type who is everyone's Bessie mate for a while before falling out with them and finding a new one - leaving a trail of devastation behind. Her last but one Bessie mate eventually moved house/school and I do think this was influenced by the fall out and the desire to move her son away from the situation - the queen bee mums kid is outgoing and is via his mother Very well connected - sadly the other mothers son was more shy and it was therefore enormously hard for him to accept the loss of the friendship and he was not very well equipped to make new friends given that the two boys had practically lived in each other's pockets for the last 2 years.
Sorry that was a ramble - but all the issues you raise are happening to many children and parents and it's important to not feel you are alone or that it's personal, most kids and parents work it out its part of growing up
This is what I have done - I totally agree with you - activities where friends from school don't attend have been a confidence life saver for DD. She has friends of different ages, who are completely unaware of the politics playing at school.
I have been more careful this time around in selecting friends with more broad outlooks, who are less focused on being the centre of attention. DD has become friends with one of the children and his elder sibling because of this and DD was already friends with another. I don't feel the pressure to perform with these women and can be myself and I really cannot see myself falling out with them because we celebrate eachother's differences and laugh about them. The other friend, who I've had for a while genuinely doesn't take offence and is an amazing woman. The three children I have posted about thus far are part of the Queen Bee dynamic. Mother of friend 1 is QB and the other two are friends but on the periphery but both difficult cookies as far as I'm concerned.
Thank you so much for posting, you are so right. I think I just need to bite the bullet and invite the child. X
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