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Daughter struggling with frienemies(30 Posts)
Hi, I just need to vent a little as apart from husband I have nobody to confide in.
I have been part of a small post natal group for 12 years now as my eldest turned 12 last week. As she went through primary school it became obvious that she has problems with making friends. One of the reasons I sent her to the school was so that she would be with one of the other girls from our little group but as they got to yr1 the dynamic became my daughter desperately wanting the friendship of this girl and the girl starting to use the friendship to torment her because she knew it would get to her. This went on all the way through primary school and was worst in yr6. We regularly encouraged her to make other friendships and she tried but I think she had this idea in her head that she should have a best friend. To compound the problem I am part of this group and we do go places out of school time together which then became more time for this girl to torment her. It's very subtle, like making her 'it' every time and always catching her first in tig because they know she's the slower one. They seem small things but DD was getting really fed up so last summer I really restricted our contact and it was noticed but I don't feel like I can bring it up as it will split the group or at least make things very awkward. Now she has been in yr7 for almost a year and she is still struggling. This girl now is sometimes her friend and sometimes not. I hoped that she would make some more friends and she has really tried. We have had quite a few round after school but low and behold they start also to be moody or mean to her. This morning she asked my why nobody wants to be her friend. She never gets invited to other peoples houses and says that when she walks up and says hello that the other girls just look at each other and smirk. They don't involve her in conversation and don't value her opinion in any way. I'm just fed up with it all. I just wish she could find someone who actually values her. I tell her that she shouldn't rely on someone else for her self worth and happiness but I can imagine how hard it is if nobody seeks you out or is bothered about talking to you. She seems just to hang on the outside of groups. All of the others within our mum group seem to be getting on really well and I feel like I'm hiding this huge secret that my DD is actually struggling every day. I can't make other be friends with her and she can be hard work sometimes because she is uncompromising but it breaks my heart. We have always been on our own as our family live miles away so no aunts/uncles/cousins mums or dads to help. I feel isolated and not sure how to help DD
I don't have any advice really but that made me so sad. Poor girl.
Would it be possible for you to move her to another school?
I know it's drastic, but if this carries on throughout her school years, it's going to bring her confidence down to zero.
Also, any out of school activities she could join?
Hope it works out. for you x
Your poor daughter, I really feel for her.
These mums have been your friend for 12 years. Don’t hide it, tell them how you and your daughter feel. If they are true friends they will help. If they do nothing they aren’t really your friends and I woukd move on.
My dd is 10 and this similar for her. She sits on the edge of groups. She’s fun and very caring (she has two siblings with Sen). I would be very honest with your dd and say this girl’s behaviour isn’t nice and it’s a reflection of her. And that it is best to move onto someone who appreciates her and doesn’t treat her poorly. I’d teach her to walk away from friendships like this. It was so sad to read about this. I often think it’s so hard for girls.
So sorry, OP. This reminds me of my own experience as a child. Tormented constantly through primary school, went to a different senior school to the rest of my class for a fresh start. Sadly, this didn't work out. Parents then sent me to a different secondary which was great for me until a-levels when I had a tough time again with peers. I can honestly say, I made some great friends at uni and elsewhere, and at 34, I feel like I have a brilliant network of friends and the most amazing husband. I still shudder thinking about primary school, and my mum always says she thought I was having a nervous breakdown aged 12, but I got through it and things got better. I made lots of friends and boosted my confidence through joining a particular club aged 11, don't want to say which one for fear of outing myself, but it was a lot of fun and happy to PM you the name if you want to look into it for you dd. X
Hi, thanks so much for the responses. She really has tried to make other friends but it lasts a week and then we are back to square one. To the lady who offered to pm me, i really would love and advice i can get. I really think if i mention it to the group that i will have to leave as the mum of this one girls is a bit of a queen bee as she was the only one already with a child when we met up and on her second so we all looked to her a bit and that has translated into her being unofficial leader. I am stuck.
I do sympathise but I don't understand why you're still doing things out of school with this girl. That part of it is in your control - don't make her go and spend more time with someone who makes her feel shit, surely?
Power struggles between girls can be absolutely horrendous for the child who is a victim of another's cruelty.
I've come to the conclusion that this is an inevitable part of childhood that many fail to acknowledge, especially if it is their child that is the "alpha" inflicting her cruel whims upon others.
Speak to the school, join outside clubs and activities.
I wish you both lots of luck.
I still go out although not as often because there are some lovely kids and mums in the group and without any other friends or family around i would be completely alone and they would have zero interaction.
I couldn't make any friends when i had DD2 as they wouldn't allow me to take DD1 with me and having no support network meant i was stuck. I mentioned it more than once to health visitor but nothing they could do. Looking back i should have joined NCT.
Struggling to do a PM but working on it!
Out of school clubs would be a better solution because it'll mean totally new people and a fresh start. She never has a chance as things stand now.
Can you try to pm me please?! Apologies, but I don't seem to have the option on my app to pm you, OP.
As another pp has said, would it be worth speaking to the school to see if they can help - some schools are better than others on this kind of thing, but they may be able to 'spot' someone who is also looking for a friend and put them together? I agree out of school activities are good - realistically they may not lead to close friendships, but it is ready made socialising and a life outside school can make school less important.
I agree about telling dd to walk away from the friendship with the other girl. Civil but don't get involved, that sort of thing. That may make things awkward with your friends though - ultimately I think that friendships between dparents don't really last if the dc fall out (I know that they haven't fallen out exactly but you know what i mean). I have to admit that I wouldn't mention the problem to the group - as you say it may lead to a rift, and is unlikely to help (sounds jaded I know!), plus some of them will tell their dcs, which could make things even more complicated for your dd.
For your own socialising, could you meet up with the parents in evenings without dcs, so that your dd doesn't have to be involved?
And meant to add - many sympathies to you (and dd) - it can be awful to watch a dc being excluded in those subtle ways and there being nothing you can do about it!
Also the sense you referred to that you're carrying a big secret - I think in our society (maybe all societies, I don't know) there is social kudos attached to dcs' friendships, so yes there can be a sense of having failed if your dcs don't. The being on the edge of groups thing is very common, and very demoralising for the person on the edge. It would be better to walk away from the group (not physically!) but that is far easier said than done when you don't have other friends and are in a closed environment like a school when the alternative may be to have nobody to hang out with.
I don’t think many friendships last from primary through to secondary so I think you’ll have to accept that she needs to walk away from the friendship with the other girl who is mean to her, for her own self-esteem. You are right she shouldn’t be forced to be friends with someone who is mean to her.
For the mums group, could you meet up for drinks in the evening or coffee/lunch when kids are in school?
I agree about extra-curricular activities - does she do any clubs at evenings or weekends?
The mums group sounds like hard work if there’s a Queen Bee type. Are you friends with any parents from DC2 school you could try and meet up with?
It’s really hard and upsetting when your DDs are struggling with friendships. Is there a teacher/tutor at school you could speak to as they may be able to offer advice.
Have a chat to your DD about how she approaches friendships. She may need a little guidance. When I had a chat to my DD about secondary school friendships she said she prefers being friends with a group rather than having a ‘best friend’ as there’s less pressure, and you can come and go without anyone getting upset.
Not all children meet up with friends after school so don’t worry about that - my DD doesn’t yet she’s happy at school, I have said she is welcome to have friends over if she wants to, but at this age I think it’s up to her to organise it, I can’t do it for her.
It’s really hard I know, as when they are younger you can help with friendships but by this age they have to work these things out for themselves.
I do sympathise but I don't understand why you're still doing things out of school with this girl
Agreed. Sorry OP but I am amazed you've allowed it to go on so long. I understand that you are friends with the mums but your dd's friendships are nothing to do with yours - there is no reason why the children should get on just because their mums are friends.
I think you need to separate your social life from your dd's. If you like some of the other mums, arrange to meet in the evening without the children. How big is this group? It doesn't sound very healthy if this queen bee mum is the 'leader'. You should all be equals. Could you meet up with a few of them without this mum?
Definitely speak to the school and see if they have any suggestions which might help your dd. Out of school clubs can be good too but it doesn't solve the problem of loneliness at school - it can be a long 6 hours at school on your own no matter how many out of school friends you have.
Oh and I would make it clear to your dd that if this girl is sometimes her friend and sometimes not and plays games with her etc, then she is not worthy of your dd's friendship. It's really important for self-worth and self esteem for them to understand friendship is a two-way thing - it's not just about gaining friendship, its also about giving friendship. If someone isn't being nice to you, walk away.
All of the others within our mum group seem to be getting on really well and I feel like I'm hiding this huge secret that my DD is actually struggling every day
I think both you and your DD are struggling with the dynamics in this mums and DC friendship group and you really need reevaluate what friendship is all about.
If this group of mums were really good friends then you should be able to be more honest with them about your feelings and your DDs struggles. Good friends would also be more supportive of you and your DD. I also really doubt that all of their DC are getting on as well as the appear to be. Most kids have their ups and downs and as none of you are being honest you will never really know quite what is going on.
I have been in a similar position where the dynamics in the group were difficult as our DC got older and no longer got on. I also came to the conclusion that these mums were not true friends as meeting them only left me feeling incredibly annoyed or inadequate and that is not what friendship is supposed to be about.
Thanks for commenting BackinTime. I know what you mean, I should be able to share and when they were babies we told each other everything but as they've got older and the dynamic has changed I've felt more like I can't talk to them especially about this problem but even about things that are going on with me right now, Since we don't meet often it feels like we have less and less in common now the kids are older. There are only four of us and it would mean the end for me in the group if I mentioned how I feel. The problem is if I walk away completely I have no other friends. I live miles from any family, either mine or husband. My sister is autistic so doesn't really understand. I have no uni or school friends to call on for different reasons and my husband works miles away so we can't even socialise with his colleagues. Apart from moving I don't see a way out.
niki what about the other two mums? Can you not arrange to meet up with one of them?
This sounds very close to the group I’m in. In fact if you hadn’t mentioned their ages I’d have thought it was us! It’s not my daughter in this position or doing it either, I’m more on the sidelines.
I would imagine the others have noticed even if queen bee hasn’t. My friend who’s daughter this is happening to has really distanced herself lately which is such a shame but I do understand how she must feel (very similar to yourself). I have kept in touch and we still see each other separately, as does one of the others (there are six of us). Maybe reach out separately to whoever you’re closest to? Don’t lose your friends because your kids aren’t as friendly as they were.
I definitely second the getting your daughter into something outside of school, specifically something that will boost her confidence and give her something as a common ground. For my friend her daughter is just very different to ours and had they not grown up together there’s no way they’d have chosen to be friends. Unfortunately the rest of our kids are all similar so it does mean there’s an odd one out, they can’t help their interests but maybe speak to your daughter about seeing people’s differences and what her strengths are and to focus on them.
With regards to the other child being mean, I’d distance them and explain to your daughter how people can sometimes feel threatened by others differences and that this is not a reflection on her but a reflection of others insecurities.
It is so hard for kids who don't make friends easily or have confidence issues, my DD is a similar age and has had some friendship problems over the years but I have had to try and let her deal with them herself. I have bought books on handling friendship situations which have helped a bit, but ultimately, you can't force friendships. Also, pre-teen girls can be really, really mean to each other, I've noticed!
For yourself, OP, I think you need to be a bit more proactive; when I first moved to the place I live now, I didn't know anyone, except my then BF's friends. I joined a gym, went to classes, joined a running group, started evening classes (all so much easier to achieve when no kids to think about, I know). I made friends through these groups because I had something in common with people. I just used to start talking to people and most of them responded in a friendly way. I used to be really shy but all of my friends assured me that I was a lovely person and great fun to be with etc (not trumpet blowing here!) so I figured, if they like me, others will too! Get yourself out there OP and show your DD how to do it! She won't necessarily do the same but it might help her try! Equally, get her to join some after school clubs/groups that she's interested in, she might make some friends with like-minded people there.
Good luck to both of you.
Thanks for all you responses. I am going to push her to do something outside school in sept. She used to be in guides but it was just the same group of mean girls from school so she left. She did try another troupe but she didn't feel it was for her and I can't force it. As for me I'm afraid evenings are out. Husband has a really high pressure job and commutes a long way. A regular evening thing is not possible as his home time is erratic and often quite late. I have been to gyms and classes and has no luck as everyone always seems to already have a group or friend. Now we have a dog I am getting out more and have brief conversations with other dog walkers but nobody interested in more than a quick chat. Everyone always seems to already have a friend base and family, nobody is looking for friendship and I've come to terms with that. The other mums in my group have all been brought up here and have other friends and family whereas I haven't. There's always a brother or sister to babysit etc. I realised a long time ago that we are alone with regards to childcare so I'm pretty tied to the kids. I've tried branching out in the playground but again it's just chatting. A lot of mums work so aren't available in the day to meet. I am determined not to be a sob story and am happy pottering on my own with the dog, I just need to get my daughter confidence up but getting her out and about.