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to confront this "friend" who has once again spoilt my outing with my dc's?

(13 Posts)
onthepier Sun 07-Jun-09 22:14:26

I'm talking about someone I used to work with but never really felt comfortable with, however, when several of us had babies at around the same time and stayed in touch, she started tagging along to swimming sessions, coffee mornings etc, (admittedly she was always very good friends with one of the other new mums, who I don't think realised that a few of us had a problem with her!)

Anyway, some years have passed, my dd is nearing the end of primary school and my ds is 6. My dh was working yesterday so I took them to the park. They were playing happily while I enjoyed the sunshine with a coffee. Suddenly a car pulled up and it was this lady. She seemed really pleased to see us, said she was driving around with her dd at a loose end, and spotted us.hmm

Anyway, she spent the next hour with us, starting off by asking if I'm trying to win brownie points from my dh, keeping the kids out of his hair!hmm The other main focuses of her conversation was how (apparently) shy my dd is compared to hers and why, making fun of the fact that I spend loads of time with my kids, (admittedly I enjoy taking them to the theatre/parks/playcentres, zoos etc)! She ropes in grandparents for all this, she's said before she loves her dd but doesn't enjoy "children's stuff"!hmm She's often said she can't understand why I've got parents who dote on my children, yet never go on holiday, just the two of us, leaving them with their grandparents. We do occasionally have a weekend away by ourselves, but a fortnight without the kids? No, not for me! She's done that though, quite often.

This may sound a one-off but it's happened before where she joined us at a friend's party, hinting at the fact I've put on a bit of weight since having my second child, (trying to lose it!), and made fun of the fact (in front of other people), that I haven't passed managed to pass a driving testblush. I'm (although not officially diagnosed), dyspraxic, so my driving problems are a bit of a sore point. I haven't told anybody about the dyspraxia, but I still think this is so rude!

This woman has a reputation for being tactless, but according to her friends is so upset if she's told she's offended somebody, (I find this hard to believe)! She lives very local, but I try to avoid places she may be, unfortunate, as we share a few of the same friends. Am I being oversensitive, or would I be unreasonable to call round there and have it out with her? I did speak to a friend about this, who was adamant this lady genuinely likes me and my family, and would be devastated if she thought she'd offended me, (I'm not so sure)!

piprabbit Sun 07-Jun-09 22:28:54

It sounds like she's tactless and insensitive - but I'm not sure exactly what it is you were thinking of 'having out with her'? From a selfish perspective, what would you gain by confronting this woman? What positive outcome are you imagining? It sounds like it would upset you, upset her and possible damage your reputation with mutual friends. I'd be tempted to simply chalk her up as someone to avoid if at all possible, and come up with a list of handy readymade excuses for the next time you bump into her. But then again - I'm not keen on confrontation..... By the way - who on earth just drives around with DC when at a loose end, very odd imo.

janeite Sun 07-Jun-09 22:34:23

I think she sounds a bit lonely and a bit socially inept but as if she wants friends. I don't see any reason to avoid her (it sounds like you see little of her and are unlikely to see her much more anyway) and certainly not to 'have it out' with her.

onthepier Sun 07-Jun-09 22:41:20

I also think it's odd to just drive around with your child when at a loose end, but it's how she is! I remember being in a coffee shop in town once with dc's only for her to suddenly appear and join us, saying she'd finished her shopping and spotted us through the window!hmm

Maybe my term, "have it out with her" was the wrong one. I too, hate confrontation, but am feeling the need to let her know I resent my outings with my dc's being encroached on by her when she's only going to criticise, and I suppose when she started on about my driving lessons at that party, I felt hurt and embarrassed in front of friends and neighbours. (She'd prob laugh that off as a "joke" though!)

I either have to grin and bear it, avoiding her when I can, or tell her how I feel which would be difficult for me, and and as you say PIPRABBIT, poss cause problems with friends. Will have a think.......

purpleduck Sun 07-Jun-09 22:55:15

I agree she sounds inept.
I would develope a tactic for her comments. Since she doesn't understand tact and subtlety (sp?) you probably have to be a bit direct with her.
For example, if she makes fun of you not driving yet, just firmly say "I will pass when I am ready" and change the subject.

Chunkamatic Sun 07-Jun-09 22:55:15

I think it sounds like she might be a bit jealous of you - maybe she wishes she had as close a realtionship with her DC as you do with yours. Plenty of people who are a bit insecure will try and put people down and belittle them so that they themselves feel better. If she said the thing about your driving test in front of other people then I think that is evidence of my point! (BTW it took me 9 years to pass my driving test and I dont even have a decent reason such as dyspraxia - you'll get there!)

If I were you I wouldnt seek her out to have a word with her, but neither would I avoid going places that she might be. Next time you see her and she says something that is offensive, then tell her. It sounds to me like she's got a lot more to lose if other people alos recognise she's insensitive.

You might even see it that you are doing her a favour by pointing out that the way she interacts with people often results in them feeling alienated and upset.

piprabbit Sun 07-Jun-09 23:02:10

Perhaps you could come up with an excuse such as.... "how lovely to see you, I'm afraid I can't chat now but I promised DC that they could have my undivided attention today". And then walk away if poss. while talking to DCs in clear voice about your plans for the next few minutes (Feed the ducks, catch the bus, whatever). This womam may be lonely and looking for a closer friendship with you, but you are not obligated to be her friend esp. if she leaves you feeling bad about yourself.

SolidGoldBrass Sun 07-Jun-09 23:06:41

Just be polite but make an exucse and walk away when you see her. Confrontation will achieve nothing apart from making you look like a twat and a bully (she's insensitive and socially inept but she isn't a bad person, she hasn't stolen from you, beaten you up or slandered you).

2rebecca Mon 08-Jun-09 13:28:39

Agree she sounds socially inept and maybe a bit lonely. I'm not sure she was criticising you, she seemed to be just discussing the fact that you both approach child rearing differently.
Do you have a problem discussing things with people who do have different opinions to you?
I suspect she's unaware that you took some of her comments so personally. Perhaps the main issue is just that you don't like her and didn't like to be rude by getting rid of her, which is fair enough but not really something needing confronting.

pagwatch Mon 08-Jun-09 13:42:00

blush I find it interesting talking with people about how they do things differently from me - I would find the things she raises quite interesting.
Are you assuming that because she is pointing these things out she is criticising you - or do you really think she is criticising you.

For example - my friend can't stand 'kids stuff' and laughs at me for some of the things I do withthe children but her comments 'blimey - how do you manage an our making collage pictures without wanting to shoot yourself' are not criticisms of me. She is just pointing out that I can and she can't. That does not make me or her better - just different.

I think that maybe you just have different appraoches and different conversation styles. Avoiding her seems sensible but I wouldn't go and tell her she was upsetting you. It would be way better if you could just ask her if she is criticing when she says these things.
If uninvolved people aretelling you she likes you it seems that maybe she does. Perhaps she has assumed a level of friendship while you are still treating her more formally so her 'chat' is making you feel defensive.

Mij Mon 08-Jun-09 13:48:30

It's funny how sometimes the most tactless of people turn out to have very thin skins. It sounds like she doesn't have an effective filter between what-goes-through-brain and what-comes-out-of-mouth.

I made some radically different parenting choices to some of my new mum-mates I made when DD was a newborn. Some I just drifted away from, with some we just came to an unspoken agreement to avoid subjects that had potential for disagreement/overreaction/whatever, and a couple continued to challenge me on them almost every time I saw them. I decided to treat it like it said more about them (and feeling the need to defend or validate their choices) than it did about me.

When that didn't work, I tried occasionally deflecting with a generic 'oh well, horses for courses, ay?' or 'well, it works for us' and changing the subject, and if that was too subtle, a 'you bring that up a lot when we talk - does it bother you that much that we do xxx and you do yyy?' (while trying desperately not to sound tetchy or upset) generally did the trick.

onthepier Mon 08-Jun-09 20:31:52

2REBECCA, No I don't have a problem with people whose opinions differ from mine, unless (as it is in this case), their differences of opinion are accompanied by eye rolling about the things I enjoy with my children, and even tutting about the fact I don't drive! (I can't see why as I'm very comfortable with public transport, can afford taxis and don't rely on this person or anybody else for lifts)!

I'll happily have a healthy debate but I don't like this "I'm better than you" attitude. I think a bit of tact goes a long way.

ShellingPeas Mon 08-Jun-09 21:19:57

I would agree with Pagwatch - I think this woman might just suffer from foot in mouth disease and says the first thing that comes into her mouth when she sees someone she knows. She may not be that socially adept.

It's easy enough to do, and I'm guilty of this - sometimes, when you don't know someone particularly well it's not always that easy to judge whether what you say is the right thing or not (although comparison or criticism of other people's children is probably not the way to go when trying to establish contact.)

I don't think you need to "have it out with her" but the next time she says something you find offensive, just ask her why she said it and that you find it upsetting. You may well find she is embarrassed and didn't realise she was upsetting you.

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