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"Issue" at school has lead to issue with other parents

(25 Posts)
Parent2266 Mon 08-Dec-14 23:33:43

Our DD is in year 4. There has been the usual minor "he said, she said" moans and groans in the past, then out of the blue, one of the other parents (also a close friend and neighbour) phones us one day and says her daughter is being bullied and mentions our DD as one of a few girls involved. There is a similar phone call a few days later and she is more specific, her 9 year old son being a 'key witness' to our DD "bullying" her daughter. We contacted the school to find out what was going on and we were reassured that there was no issue with our DD's behaviour (though there were some friendship issues in the class generally). We advised our DD to play with other girls in the class and avoid the girls who were often involved in friendship issues; this was also the head's suggestion. On a couple of subsequent occasions, the other parent had been to school to see the head and when her daughter was questioned regarding the "bullying" she was unable to provide any details, as it appears that any issues were not bullying but just everyday minor issues which teachers and lunchtime supervisors deal with, usually without involving the parents. In the absence of any concerns from school (or ourselves) we are just carrying on as normal.

However, the other parent clearly sees things differently. She has taken to ignoring us whenever possible and has also suggested to other parents that we have fallen out with her. This is a close friend and neighbour, one who we would share lifts with, invites for tea, dinner parties etc etc. After 4 months of ignoring us, we were at a social function where she was pleasant, but has then reverted to previous behaviour. It won't be long it is our turn (or theirs) to host the aforementioned social function.

It appears she believes her children's version of events and has convinced herself a bit of playground banter is bullying. We believe the school's version of events i.e. that there is no issue. And if there was, we would expect the school to deal with it and inform us. Our paths will cross locally and at school for years to come.

Where do we go from here? How do we reach a scenario where this can be dealt with and we all get back to normal?

CocktailQueen Mon 08-Dec-14 23:37:36

Talk to her??

Say what you've said here: what the school has said, what your dd has said. Say, this is being dealt with at school...

If she 's still unhappy, ask her what specific issues her dd has, and suggest she takes them up with school.

Tricky!

Riverland Mon 08-Dec-14 23:37:58

You haven't described your conversations with your close friend and neighbour? They have rejected your olive branch?

GoodboyBindleFeatherstone Mon 08-Dec-14 23:39:05

To be perfectly honest - I was on the receiving end of "playground banter" for most of my school life, and it was pretty fucking miserable. The other girl might not have the ability to deal with it and might be crying herself to sleep at night.

Unfortunately I have no advice as no-one did anything to help me.

GoodboyBindleFeatherstone Mon 08-Dec-14 23:40:59

Posted too soon... Sorry.

The only thing I can think of is that you somehow engage with this other parent and find out her dd's point of view.

Hakluyt Mon 08-Dec-14 23:41:04

What do you mean by "a bit of playground banter"?

RandomMess Mon 08-Dec-14 23:47:01

I can't comment on the "truth" at your dds school.

I once had an irrate parent accuse my dd of bullying around yr 4/5 I spoke to the school and they were horrified as they said that was the one thing my dd wouldn't do - argue yes but not bully.

In the end it seemed very much as case in this particular instance that the Mum didn't want to consider her recent marriage break-up, her father (a granddad very involved in day to day to care of the kids) being diagnosed of terminal cancer and a new boyfriend on the scene perhaps being a part of the issue. This poor girl had been moved from at least 2 schools previously due to being "bullied"

I honestly think the girl in question said this to her mum for attention - that she desperately needed. However the mum just threw all her unhappiness at me and then withdrew her dd from the school and moved her yet again sad

She was such a lovely girl too sad

I suppose I'm just saying you don't every know exactly what is going on and why anyone is behaving the way they do.

piggychops Mon 08-Dec-14 23:51:26

It's a school issue really. Children have disagreements all the time in the playground. If you trust the school to deal with it effectively then let them sort it out, but make sure you say nothing in schoolgate chit chat about the situation as it is the kind of thing that can grow arms and legs of " he said, she said"

FollowTheStarship Mon 08-Dec-14 23:52:22

Yes it's common IME for school/teachers to see only "friendship" where there could actually be a psychodrama in which one person is really suffering. I've also had my DS be on the receiving end of "teasing" that I don't actually think was meant cruelly, and might not have affected other kids the same way, but had him crying hysterically and very, very upset. You can't know for sure that there isn't actually a problem.

I agree the best approach would be to talk to the upset parent, ask exactly what has been happening and what the problem is from their/their DD's point of view and how you can help.

MillyMollyMama Tue 09-Dec-14 00:09:22

I think the real issue here is that the other parent is not trusting the school's version of events, or the school's ability to deal with it. Possibly the word "banter" is not appropriate here but unfortunately girls do have love/hate relationships with each other and most of the time it is not bullying because a sensible adult at school will sort it out - and then everyone moves on. The problem appears to be that this parent is not moving on. I think the word bullying is used by children who do not actually know what bullying is. They may have a single fall out with another child and say they are being bullied. This is school life and children do need some resilience to deal with the odd squabble in the playground.

Being ignored can make you feel excluded but I am sure you have enough friends to not need people who are clearly precious. I can't think why you are bothered about these parents. Just ignore them! Do what you have to do socially and stick by the rules regarding being pleasant in public.

When my DD was in year 3, she and another child started playing the violin. They were asked to join beginner strings at the local music centre about 5 miles away. The other Mum said that she would take them after school and I agreed to pick them up. After a few weeks she told me that she could not take my DD any longer because another child needed to get to the music centre at the same time, and she was now taking that child instead, so our arrangement would cease to be. I never spoke to her again. What was the point? She was not a friend, she didn't stick to agreements, she left me in a difficult position because my younger DD had to be somewhere else at the same time. Live your life without people like this. Who needs them? If it is not this incident, it will be something else. They are not your friends - get over them!

rabbitstew Tue 09-Dec-14 06:58:01

Well, you know the other parent. Has she a history of going into school to complain, or is her upset unusual not just with respect to you, but also generally? Has her dd had problems with bullying or unhappiness, or accusing others of being mean to her, in the past (to a greater extent, that is, than the usual minor moaning you mentioned)? Have you asked your dd what's going on between the two of them? Your reaction does seem a bit blasé if she really is (was!) a friend of yours and she has never had a tendency to get so upset before. If it was genuinely "just playground banter," you know from experience it wouldn't be this protracted, so something has to be different. You are behaving as though this woman is not a friend, but an over-emotional stranger.

EveDallasRetd Tue 09-Dec-14 07:20:34

DD has a 'friend' like this, accuses other girls of bullying her and of pushing her/hurting her.

Except I've seen the 'bullying' - it's when DD doesn't want to do whatever it is that friend wants to do. Or if DD tells friend not to do something ("Don't tease the dog, she doesn't like it" "Stop telling me what to do, you are such a bully")

And the pushing, well I saw that one yesterday, DD tapped her on the shoulder to get her attention and friend fell to the floor! In that case I said "Good Lord XX that was one hell of an overreaction, you are going to hurt yourself if you keep throwing yourself on the floor for no reason" friend said DD pushed her and I said "No she didn't, don't lie. I think you'd better go home now, right now"

I had a phone call with 20 minutes asking why I'd "told friend off for falling over". After I explained all mum said was "oh she can be a little dramatic, no harm done" which would be fine, except friend will now say something at school and it will all start up again.

<<resigned>>

CocktailQueen Tue 09-Dec-14 10:20:50

Well done, Eve!

chirrza Tue 09-Dec-14 13:37:48

From my own experience my advice would be to back off a bit but keep smiling and saying hello, even though she's ignoring you.

My friend did similar and is on good terms again with the person who had a similar gripe with her. She no longer socialises with her, but they are on saying hello terms.

I tend to not speak to other parents at all if my dc has an issue with another dc and let the school deal with it. Once parents get involved it can get completely out of hand. Because we all believe our own dc, project our own experience onto the situation and the stories will invariably differ. The dc make up and you end up with a feud amongst the parents that lasts for years.

I have a y4 dd. They have fall outs, friendship issues regularly. I think our teacher would know if a particular dc was being singled out and systematically bullied and take action to stop it. If your teacher is saying there isn't a problem now, I'd believe them.

Of course you could try talking to her, but it may end badly and make things worse. She's obviously very angry at the moment.

Parent2266 Tue 09-Dec-14 19:54:27

Thank you for your comments. We are 100% clear that it was a matter for school to deal with. When I said "playground banter", I mean games like chase, and having 'arguments' about nothing in particular. The other parent has been to school subsequently to complain about other children and has also been there more than once when called in by the head regarding the behaviour of their older son. Her daughter doesn't like it when she doesn't get her own way and started crying when she didn't like her selected events for sports day so the teacher backed down and swapped it around. However, as 4 months has gone by, with a more settled class now, the original "issue" is in the past in our eyes. Our DD has plenty of friends, others to invite for tea and to share lifts with.

The issue that remains is the way the other parent is behaving. In the playground it's easy to just say hello and carry on, less so in the local area but still possible. And it's just about OK to feel that the friendship is now 'downgraded' to that of neighbour/ acquaintance. We have plenty of other friends through school, work and locally; in fact we are sometimes the ones organising social events for other people.

The challenge we have is that we are in a group of 6 or 7 couples in the village who take it in turns to meet at each others' houses socially for a food and wine tasting. The invite is sent out by the host but it is the norm to invite the entire group. My feelings are such that I don't wish to invite a person who is behaving like this to our house when it is our turn; likewise I don't wish to accept hospitality at her house. The advice to keep away and/or be sociable just won't work.

So I'm seeking some advice on how to deal with this specific point ...

Littlefish Tue 09-Dec-14 20:30:38

My dd has been on the receiving end of exactly the same sort of behaviour (and I therefore received the phone calls from the child's mother about it). The child's mother was one of my closest friends. However, in spite of exhaustive checking by the school, conversations with both girls and their friends, no truth could be found in the accusations made and stories told by the other child.

I have completely cooled the friendship between both the girls and my friend and I. I have worked tirelessly with the school to try and find out whether there were issues with my dd and have been assured time and time again that there are no issues. I can only come to the conclusion that the other child is exaggerating any perceived problems in order to get a reaction from her mother.

It's all very sad.

I think you need to have a very honest conversation with this other mother and explain that you have done your best to work with the school and that neither they, nor you see the same level of problem as she does.

rabbitstew Tue 09-Dec-14 21:32:00

Wow - she's held a grudge for four months?! It sounds like she's very thin skinned on the issue. Clearly it's not just you she's peed off with, she appears to have lost faith in the school!

If you valued the friendship you used to have, it might be worth asking her why she still seems so angry, because you don't understand what you did wrong and therefore think it a shame to lose a friendship over what is clearly a misunderstanding, not a lack of caring on anyone's part. If you no longer do wish to be particularly friendly, because she's p*d you off so much, then obviously you will have an issue on your hands into which you will be dragging all your neighbours, if you feel unable to invite her into your house with the rest of them! If you don't like that thought, then you might have to risk telling her you think her apparent anger towards you is a shame and unnecessary, and give her a chance to explain herself, even if it does end up making the situation worse!! It's all the things left unsaid that are creating the tension... and I've always liked lancing boils... grin

MillyMollyMama Wed 10-Dec-14 00:24:21

OP. This woman is making no effort to remain friends with you. You have done nothing wrong but she is holding a grudge against you. I can see the difficulties over the meal arrangement but invite her to yours as if nothing has happened. With a bit of luck she won't come so you will be spared the problem. It is likely other people in your friendship group will notice eventually so do you have no real friends at all that you can confide in? Or are none of these people proper friends? Is this some sort of game where you keep up appearances of being best buddies but secretly loathe each other? It could be a sit com! Make sure you are away when she hosts the meal. I would confide in your social group if you can but if she is best friends with all of them, you can't really resolve this, can you?

howtodrainyourflagon Wed 10-Dec-14 07:24:11

My ds was on the end of "to and fro" between friends. This was at a school where there has "never been any bullying, just children falling out from time to time".

Ds was miserable. All it took was a smirk here and there, a few words in ds' s ear at playtime, and some "accidents" with paint and lunch and water and ds's playtime activities. The bully could do no wrong in the eyes of the school.

It may be that the other girl is making mountains out of molehills or that the mother has an agenda. But please don't discount the possibility that your dd may be winding this girl up drip-drip-drip style.

Soveryupset Wed 10-Dec-14 07:41:44

Agree with the above, I feel that if you are/were a true friend you would have tried to see the other person's point of view and taught your child to be sensitive to a friend's needs. Bullying can be very subtle.

I have had children at the end of bullying which was seen as playground silliness and it was miserable.

Starlightbright1 Wed 10-Dec-14 07:59:45

I am no longer friends with someone whose son bulied my son, He was following orders from someone else and hurt my DS Physically. While is a child I don't think I will ever forgive him, trust him. The friendship was unsustainable from that point on. I think Mum's lack of coming down on him for behaviours I would be mortified if my son did cemented it.

I think you are going to have to have a conversation with her , rather than sit there defending your daughter tell her you are encouraging the school to deal with any issues that arrive and will support the schools approach.

LIZS Wed 10-Dec-14 08:19:20

I think you need to accept that this friendship is over. Whether you got through the motions of hosting them is up to you but probably best to separate school and social issues ad rise above any accusations. Bullying, especially verbal and isolating, is in part an interpretation of the behaviour by the victim. What is banter to one may be verbal abuse to another, for example, especially if there is more than one instance involving more than one child/group. It is easy to envisage a group of children getting carried away and egging each other on to the extent that one child feels victimised. If the leader is particularly popular you can see how an individual child may feel vulnerable.

You should accept that your dd has been involved in something that could be bullying either directly or by association. Both dc have experienced bullying towards them but the school did not really take it seriously as such nor were the other children admonished. 9-11 yo girls are notoriously fickle and catty when it comes to friendships, hence why it may be readily dismissed as such. The other mum should not be contacting you directly though, if she does again refer her to school and say you are happy to enter into discussion with them as required.

Soveryupset Wed 10-Dec-14 11:50:48

Sorry I re-read my post and it sounded harsh, I didn't mean to be. It's just that nowhere in your post you question you daughter, which I think is a mistake. If I were in your shoes, I would have talked at length with the mum and also your daughter, trying to explain to her that sometimes things can be interpreted the wrong way. I would have done anything in my power to ensure my daughter was not saying things that were hurtful, not only to preserve a friendship but also to teach an invaluable skill which is that it is not nice for someone to feel like they have been bullied. Children learn very subtle ways of bullying, which can feel bad when it is done on a daily basis.

My daughter was at the receiving end of this and has witnessed this also done to other children. The school rarely admits there is a problem, unfortunately. However, I am always telling my own children to be very careful what they say and how it can be interpreted, rather than defending them regardless. Just try putting yourself in the shoes of that mum, do you really think she enjoys the situation? If it was a minor, silly issue, she wouldn't be so upset as to lose a friendship over it. I think you need to reconsider your position here and try and investigate this yourself further rather than let the school deal with it.

The bullying, especially if it is done as a group, will get even more severe if it isn't nipped in the bud by the parents of the perpetrators, because the children will be taking strength from the fact that it is the victim that is a "drama queen" and nobody believes them anyway.

sunnyfrostyday Wed 10-Dec-14 19:11:15

A mum in my ds's class has held a grudge/not spoken to me for over 4 years! I have no idea why, but it was around the time I mentioned a possible friendship problem with her dc in year 1.

Tried talking to her, she blanks me. I carry on as normal - she looks the fool, not me.

CockBollocks Wed 10-Dec-14 19:20:24

I would go and see her, explain to her that its been 4 months, the school have ruled out bullying and does she think your friendship can move on from here.

If she still continues with her grudge then bring up the social event and suggest that maybe its best that the pair of you don't invite each other when it is your turns. Explain that then neither one of you will have to feel uncomfortable.

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