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Is there any way I can tell my friend to stop talking about her son in front of him?

(11 Posts)
YunoYurbubson Tue 13-Jul-10 21:05:53

It is driving me mad.

Friend is very, very intense about her son. He is nearly 4. She worries about him a lot. She thinks that he is different, not like other kids.

The thing is, she reinforces this all the time.

As soon as any food comes on the scene, before her son has a chance to say whether or not he would like to try it she will say "Oh dear, I know L won't want to try anything green! Will you L? L absolutely refuses to try anything green."

When we were talking about how some cartoons can be scary for young children, she spoke at length about how L was absolutely terrified of X and Y and Z, and L was standing right there listening to how terrified he was of everything. I said something mild about how my dd went through a phase of being scared of things so we used to take our monster spray out with us, and Friend immediately countered with "Oh no you see, L is FAR too intelligent to ever fall for any of those Mummy tricks, we can't fob him off with anything like that".

She also talks a lot about how L won't ever try new things. He won't try to ride a bike, he won't try to write his name, he won't try jumping in the swimming pool, he won't try new food. He must stand there listening to all of this, thinking "hmm... that's me, I don't try new things". Surely it becomes a self fulfilling prophecy?

She also often says that "L has to get everything perfect, or he won't do it at all. If he's colouring and it goes outside the lines that's it, he screws it up and won't try again." It seems to me that must be a lot of pressure to put on a 3yo.

All of what she says may be true. I don't have any issue with her wanting to talk about her son with us Mums, but I feel so uncomfortable with her talking about him in such negative terms in front of him all the time.

She absolutely adores him. She is so anxious and desparately wants him to be 'normal'. I wonder if perhaps he might be if she calmed down and backed off a bit.

It is incessant.

I've reached a point where I'm going to say something without thinking it through. I don't even mind too much if it does affect our friendship.

Should I say nothing? I don't want to be unsupportive, and for all I know he really is an impossibly difficult child and she is at her wits end with him. He seems normal to me.

I know that if my dd heard me telling people that she did or didn't do something she would be hugely influenced by that.

Your thoughts? Please. Thank you.

YunoYurbubson Tue 13-Jul-10 21:28:48

God that's so long. It all came flooding out.

Sithmummy Tue 13-Jul-10 21:43:12

I could have written that post 7 years ago. A good friend who had her first at the same time that I had ds1 was exactly the same.

Because I am a blunt tactless cow plain-spoken person, I just told her that I thought she was really damaging her son's self-esteem and ability to function socially especially with school not far off.

She was really upset, (which I regret) but phoned me a couple of days later having spoken to her mum/sister/friends and they had all agreed with me. She managed to back off a bit and he is now a perfectly normal 11-year-old. It made a huge difference when she had her second child, just not being to oversee all the minutiae of both their lives.

Friend even laughed about it the other day when we were talking about PFBs, admitted she had been really pissed off with me but that I probably saved both her and her ds a fortune in counselling fees.grin

Coca Tue 13-Jul-10 21:48:45

maybe try talking about spotting it in someone elses parenting style, as in "I saw this woman who constalntly does xyz" Often we dont realise what we are doing but can spot it when brought up iyswim. Saves her feeling got at.

Missmodular Tue 13-Jul-10 22:01:57

I think you should tell her. She's probably completely unaware of what she's doing. I would want someone to tell me if I was doing that (so long as it wasn't in a judgy way). It sounds like she's a bit highly strung though, so she may well get upset. Good luck with whatever you decide

nigglewiggle Tue 13-Jul-10 22:08:11

Rather than go into a whole critique of her parenting style - couldn't you just turn to her next time she does this and say quietly to her "ooh, I think he's listening to what we are saying." At least it might cause her to question, in her own mind, why this might be a problem. Or, she may ask you why that's a problem. You can simply say what you have said here - that it has occurred to you that it may reinforce his behaviour.

Wanttofly Wed 14-Jul-10 15:53:00

Even if you say something she will not listen.

My sister is the same and now has a horrible 8 year old and the whole family told her to stop talking negativly about him in front of him. She still does it now.

I think its even worse now as they are having IVF for a second child as her first is "Such a disappointment to her".

The only proble is she will rase the second child just like the first and there will be no different.

Everyone thinks she is nuts but will not say anything to her as she doesnt listen anyway. "She knows whats right and everyone else is wrong".

Skimty Wed 14-Jul-10 19:28:20

I nearly always use my mum in this situation e.g.

'I was chating to my mum the other day and mentioned how DC was scared/fussy eating and yoI was a bit were worried. She said it was just like my brother and they realsied that they were talking about it and he could over hear. It made me think about all the times I say things DC without even realsing it.'

Othersideofthechannel Wed 14-Jul-10 19:53:59

I'd lead by example. I'd talk about my own child to her when no DCs are about saying something like 'Glad to have a moment with you when no DCs are about. It's better for DC if they don't hear us talk about them in this way, but I wondered what you thought about xyz.'

roseability Wed 14-Jul-10 20:16:03

wanttofly - your poor nephew sad

Wanttofly Thu 15-Jul-10 17:13:29

Roseability - he is fine in school and with other people its just his Mum and Dad he plays up to or for?
The way my sister talks about and to her husband is just as bad. My DN has no respect for his own Father and they always shout in front of him too.
DS calls DN a teenager but he was only 8 years old just implaying that he was moody and she couldn't talk to him.

Its sad but my DH and my Mum and Dad think that DN will harm the new baby because of the way my sister treats him. sad

All this and she thinks she is the worlds best mother. "I breastfeed soly for 9 months and stoped when he self whened at 3 and a half years" she will say, like she is the onlt one and that it makes a diffence to how good a mother you are!!!! WTF!!!!!

She will be breastfeeding a new baby if the IVF works at 50 years old!

There is so much more i could say but i dont want to be outted.

I'm just angry

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