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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?

SmiteYouWithThunderbolts Mon 01-Jul-13 13:16:05

Unless you work with her, I would stay out of it. It doesn't sound like she would take it very well even if you were very diplomatic about raising it with her. At best, you'll lose a friend and she'll carry on being an arsehole at work. At worst, she'll take it as vindication that women with kids are soft in the head and she'll just become even more unbearable.

I would struggle to remain friends with someone like that though. She sounds deeply unpleasant.

I would smile sweetly and let her go.

She sounds hardwork, why would you want to sustain this friendship?

Tee2072 Mon 01-Jul-13 13:21:31

Why are you friends with this woman?

If I was the woman who had to listen to her go on about my children, I am fairly sure I'd have a case for a hostile work environment.

Mention that to your so called friend. Not that it will stop her. People like that always think they know best.

TheVermiciousKnid Mon 01-Jul-13 13:23:00

You know, I'm getting the impression (and I could be wrong!) that she knows very well that you are trying hard to 'keep the peace' and are reluctant to have another explosive row with her, and she is pushing you further and further, thinking you won't react - and if you do it will no doubt be your fault! If you don't say anything, she is likely to come out with more and more outrageous comments. If you do say something it might lead to another row. What you do really depends on how much you value your friendship.

To be honest, I would find it very hard to remain friends with somebody with that attitude.

YouStayClassySanDiego Mon 01-Jul-13 13:23:04

Your friend sounds awful to be around.

Stay out of her work issues and let her deal with the consequences of being an insufferable bully.

What does she bring as a friend, just out of interest?

MooncupGoddess Mon 01-Jul-13 13:23:18

Well, it is her problem, but she is certainly shooting herself in the foot, so if I was feeling kind I might try to warn her.

Honestly though, does she have enough good qualities to make it worth putting up with this sort of bitter nastiness?

quesadilla Mon 01-Jul-13 13:25:29

Thunderbolts I know she sounds awful on paper, but she can be really lovely and we go back over 20 years. I have wondered seriously about letting her go but was impressed that she made a big effort to put some of these demons behind her. I just feel that as a matter of principle I can't let someone get away with the sort of remark that a male colleague would be fired for.

MortifiedAdams Mon 01-Jul-13 13:25:51

Gosh she is lucky that this woman hasnt made a formal complaint about her.

She must have some utterly remarkable redeeming features in order for you to be able to overlook what a massive twat face she is.

SisterMatic Mon 01-Jul-13 13:26:10

Let her go.
Not liking kids is one thing, plenty of people dont and choose not to have any. That is fine.
but to have that reaction that your friend has to you talking about your children is abhorrent. You should be able to talk to a friend about anything.

WhoNickedMyName Mon 01-Jul-13 13:27:03

She sounds like she's constantly poking you with a stick, trying, for some bizzare reason to get a reaction from you.

I'd smile sweetly, let it go... and let the friendship go.

Pigsmummy Mon 01-Jul-13 13:27:24

Don't get involved, it's not your battle and you know just head strong your friend is. If you want to maintain the relationship let it go.

You have to let her make her own mistakes, if her behaviour does bite her on the backside then so be it.

WhatWillSantaBring Mon 01-Jul-13 13:28:36

If you've had to compromise on not talking about DD, then perhaps (politely) tell her that you would rather not listen to her making complaints about working with mothers. If you want to save the friendship then qualify it by sympathising with how hard it must be to work with someone who you don't feel is putting in enough effort, but that you would prefer not to hear about her feelings on her colleagues parental status as you feel that line of argument is immaterial. Someone is either good or crap at their job - whether they have children/elderly parents/an infirm partner is all the same and should have no baring on their professional abilities.

However, she sounds like a toxic friend. I know how hard it is to let them go (speak from experience) so I don't think you have to make a big thing of it, just let her drift out of your life. She sounds most unpleasant!!

quesadilla Mon 01-Jul-13 13:29:30

Tee maybe that's the way to go: keep everything very dry and factual and just warn her that those sorts of remarks in a corporate setting would probably get her fired.

OctopusPete8 Mon 01-Jul-13 13:32:36

She sounds like a complete arsewipe at best,

It is not normal for childless women to be that hostile to children/families, I almost wonder can she have kids etc is there more to her behaviour?

I would cut ties with her she sounds crazy and I would tell her why.

quoteunquote Mon 01-Jul-13 13:33:33

I would tell her very directly, but I am like that, and everyone knows to be careful what they say in front of me, because I will take them through the issue until they can think logically,

and no amount of hissy fitting will deter me making sure they understand the error of their ways.

I never let people get away with this type of crap, because it erodes my community, and I am unable to store non processed information, so I have to tackle it at source.

she sounds deeply unhappy, i hope she realises soon her behaviour is the cause of this, for her own sake, and before she loses all support.

WildlingPrincess Mon 01-Jul-13 13:36:20

I'd give her a talking too, and then let her go. She clearly has some severe issues!

HeartsTrumpDiamonds Mon 01-Jul-13 13:36:56

Give her a copy of the Equality Act FFS

quesadilla Mon 01-Jul-13 13:40:54

Octopus this is the thing: I am conscious that there may be deep seated unhappiness about not having had kids which is why I am reluctant to let her have both barrels. She has never really talked about it and I haven't probed.

Up to a point I am willing to be sensitive to this: I dread being a baby bore and I don't want to inadvertently come across as smug.

But I think even if I were childless I wouldn't be able to deal with the insinuation that every woman who has reproduced is basically a soft, hormonal jelly who can't do a day's work on make a decision on her own.

I think I will have to say something just as a matter of principle.

NicknameTaken Mon 01-Jul-13 13:51:35

I'd probably say something to her framed in legal rather than moral terms, eg. "You know that if you say things like that, you could end up in legal trouble at work".

I'd be quite matter-of-fact, and not even connect it to her attitude to your child. I'd say it once and that's it.

NicknameTaken Mon 01-Jul-13 13:54:20

Although as I understand the Equality Act, it just refers to pregnancy and maternity, as in the period covered by maternity leave. It doesn't protect mothers (or fathers) with children older than about one. Happy to be corrected if anyone knows better. If I'm right, I think it's a pretty major gap.

NicknameTaken Mon 01-Jul-13 13:55:55

Actually, according to this the protection doesn't extend past 26 weeks of giving birth.

quesadilla Mon 01-Jul-13 14:02:55

Nickname its also complicated by the fact that she is basically self employed and effectively the boss of this other woman, so she isn't going to be fired as such.

teenagetantrums Mon 01-Jul-13 14:16:48

let it go, to be honest its nothing to do with you and it is hard to do a project with people that have children and cant be available at weekends and after hours, she will never understand. My ex boss recently apologised to me for not realising how hard it was to work and be a mum, 17 years later mind you but got there in the end.

My children are teenagers now but I a friend who never had children and really did not like children but im glad I struggled to maintain that relationship away from my family as she is still a great friend now and in fact now my kids are teenagers she is much more involved with them in a bad influence auntie type of way, if that makes sense.

NicknameTaken Mon 01-Jul-13 14:19:48

I get you, but "legal trouble" is broad enough to cover situations like a complaint to EHRC or an employment tribunal etc. The woman in question may not do so, but your friend is leaving herself open to it.

And I suggest framing it in these terms more as a way of trying to keep it objective and keep emotion out of it.

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