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My daughter's "best" friend and how to support DD as she tries to pull away from her.

(31 Posts)
Roseformeplease Sat 02-Feb-13 19:18:27

My daughter, 11, has been friends with the same girl since birth. We live somewhere fairly remote and they have always seen each other, stayed over, been close. We moved a short distance so they were not in the same school from about age 7 but still saw each other once a month or so. Her friend is nearly a year older and an only child of older parents.

When they are at the friend's house, Mum plays with them (builds dens, is the witch in their games, takes them out) but when here they just get on with their own thing and I do food, check they are OK. So we have different parenting styles. I also have a 13 year old son who is easy going and doesn't bother the girls.

The daughter has started to make unreasonable demands on my daughter. ie, only talk to each other, no other people allowed. Her Mum rang to ask if my son could be away when she comes here (he really is a quiet boy and is mostly in his room - so odd). The daughter wants to bath with mine, sucks her thumb, talks baby talk and, last night, got into bed with my daughter in the middle of the night because she "was cold and lonely". The Mum rang and reorganised room arrangements when they were away at a camp type thing. The Mum also phoned on my DD's birthday to invite my daughter over for the day (WTF?)

They will be at the same secondary next year (very small school where I teach). I have already arranged for them to be in separate classes but know the Mum will try to unpick this, will try to push them together.

Basically, her daughter has no one and my daughter has lots of friends and so wants to be part of a big group, not just with one friend. The friend is very, very immature and my daughter is being expected to "care" for her. I have a lot of sympathy but don't want my daughter disadvantaged by this.

What to do? I could try talking to the Mum but she is really the root of the problem. How do I ensure that my daughter can make lots of friends next year without this girl being left alone?


ParsleyTheLioness Sat 02-Feb-13 19:36:09

I'm not sure tbh, but this is really odd, as you've picked up. Mother is definately enabling her - asking for your son not to be there is just a bit off the wall. I assume you didn't give in to this ridiculous demand. If there was a way of continuing a friendship with this girl, whilst 'diluting' her with other friends, that might be the way to go. But if she is going to insist on dd not speaking to others, then this may well not be possible, and you would need to break contact. Don't think you would achieve anything by talking to the mother, as you have predicted.

Virgil Sat 02-Feb-13 19:40:36

It's February. They won't be at school together until September. Personally I'd be busy whenever the mum suggests getting together. By the time school starts in September they'll have grown apart a bit and presumably you have more sway than the mum when it comes to class arrangements.

Roseformeplease Sat 02-Feb-13 20:04:04

That, I think, is the plan after a long chat this evening. We will be busy when plans are suggested and I will work to keep them apart at school, as far as possible. We didn't give in to getting rid of my son! He just, as always, kept out of their way. Fortunately, we have plenty of space, so this is not difficult.

mumofthemonsters808 Sat 02-Feb-13 20:04:26

Gosh I'm flabergasted that the mother asked you to remove your son from his own home.

I have met a similar personality to the one you describe and I hate to say this, but this situation is not going to end well.As soon as the mother gets a wiff that you want independence for your daughter she will try every trick in the book to keep their friendship exclusive.I'd start dropping in the conversation now that you want your girl to have a wide friendship group at secondary school and the many benefits it will bring.I would definately not commit to joint travel arrangements for the school journey.Please do not allow the girl's classes to be changed and encourage your girl to participate in after school activities.Also do not feel uncomfortable inviting other school friends to your home, you can not be dictated to.

The mother will be feeding her DD's dependency and the DD will be under the impression that mummy can solve anything.I may be very wrong and the girl will get to the big school and thrieve and the mother will just accept that friendship groups change and girls move on. Good luck I hope things sort themselves out,the mother sounds like she has an awful lot of time on her hands.

Roseformeplease Sat 02-Feb-13 20:16:05

Thanks very much. I will keep an eye on things. They do, as my son points out, loads of work in groups at school so there will be so many situations in which she can try to "segregate" my daughter. We are even having to plot my daughter keeping options quiet so she is not copied, my daughter's choice of after school activities etc. My DD has lots friends from her own primary school but this girl seems to play with much younger ones at school.

BerylStreep Sat 02-Feb-13 20:17:29

I don't know what to say, but your DD's friend sounds odd.

springyhopes Sat 02-Feb-13 20:25:18

I can't help thinking that if this woman had the audacity is going to approach the conversation about your boy not being there when her daughter visits, then she's up for difficult conversations!

Perhaps say it like it is ie tackle her about it full frontal. She's a fruitcake so what have you got to lose?

Imaginethat Sat 02-Feb-13 20:26:38

I think you are going to have to be very brave and tell the mother no. That you disagree with exclusive friendships, that your son will always be welcome in his own home and that if the friend cannot cope worth this then possibly she cannot come round, that your dd feels pressured by the expectation of exclusivity and that you believe it is normal and healthy for children to have several friends.

I know this may seem very hard but here's the thing, the mother is making unreasonable, frankly ludicrous demands on your whole family. So you really shouldn't feel bad about standing up to her. She is manipulative and weird.

I would not comment on her parenting (to her) or what you think is best for her child, I would just stick with stating your own boundaries. I think your dd needs your help here and I think you will all be relieved when it's done.

ZZZenAgain Sat 02-Feb-13 20:30:22

how does your dd feel about this girl / the friendship?

Imaginethat Sat 02-Feb-13 20:35:18

Btw i know a mum a bit like this. When the kids were preschoolers she'd go and play with them so I'd be sat there with my coffee, bored, and they had her rearranging their games.

This alone had me pulling away from the friendship. Not completely, but seeing only on occasion and more as part of a larger group.

Fast forward a few years.. The other evening she invited us around. Then texted to say actually could my dd not come till later so her dd could have exclusive time with another child. Fgs. I did go, but took younger child and my dd went to a different friend. In short, I can make it work for us and I do on occasion because there is a lot about the family I like very much. I just refuse to buy into that exclusivity/neurotic parenting stuff.

Roseformeplease Sat 02-Feb-13 20:36:10

My daughter finds it upsetting but is far more balanced about it than I am and just wants to let things dwindle away. That is fine for weekends etc but I worry about secondary as it is a tiny school and the "friend" will be hard to escape all the time. Also, I don't want her daughter to have no friends. I want my daughter to have loads of friends. Will just have to keep monitoring the situation.

ZZZenAgain Sat 02-Feb-13 20:47:18

exclusive friendships aren't wise at this age anyway, even if the girls were well-matched. From what I have seen and from what I hear (my dd is 12), there seems to be a fair bit of realigning of friendships and cliques , and it is not bad to have other friends in case the one intense friendship is on the rocks. So it is a question of whether to tackle the issue directly with the mother or just wait and see and deal with each situation as it arises?

izzyizin Sat 02-Feb-13 21:31:13

It may be that if you find other plans preclude your dd staying over with this particuar friend and vice versa, the dm will make the connection with her unreasonable request for your ds to be put out of his own home to suit her dd and will turn her attention to ingratiating herself inviting other girls to 'play'/have sleepovers with her dd.

If your dd is still kindly disposed towards the other girl, perhaps you can find time to arrange for her and your dd to go to the cinema together on a Saturday afternoon occasionally with you ferrying them to and from and maybe they can chat about the film/catch up over a soft drink/burger for half an hour or so afterwards while you undertake some errand or other?

This will pave the way for the type of age-appropriate contact your dd will be enjoying with her friends through her early teen years, and it may encourage the other pre-teen to engage in less demanding behaviour with her peers.

AhhYouWillYouWill Sat 02-Feb-13 22:08:04

I had a friendship like this for the first couple of years of secondary school and it made me very unhappy so I think you're right to break off the friendship now as much as possible.

My parents sat me down and said that I wasn't responsible for the other girls happiness and that it wasn't my responsibility to help her with her social skills. It was a huge weight off my shoulders as I felt as though I would be a horrible person if I broke away from the friendship. It sound like you've already done this so you have good handle on it OP.

If you don't do it already, could your daughter invite some other friends who will also be going up to the same school round to your house more often than the clingy girl comes round? Just so her friends get used to her not spending all her time with clingy girl and don't sort of abandon her to her automatically if that makes sense?

Helltotheno Sat 02-Feb-13 22:14:39

Firstly OP, it's not relevant that she's a child of older parents so I'm not sure why that was mentioned. Odd is odd no matter what the age.

Secondly, just state how you want things to be. For example, your response to the request about your son should have been a very firm and unequivocal 'It's my son's house too. He doesn't bother the girls and he I won't be sending him anywhere when they're here'. If she doesn't like that, tough.

You can save yourself an awful lot of trouble here by just being honest and saying that your child has lots of friends and you don't want her to be that exclusive with anyone. You're the boss of your own child's movements at this age, not the other mother. Just make that clear and you'll be fine.

Roseformeplease Sat 02-Feb-13 22:14:58

She does have a group of friends that she sees a lot more frequently (same school and village) but if the girl is here at the same time she tries to separate my DD from the others. This is easy enough to mange now but will be hard next year when they are all in the same class. What we are going to do is limit contact and try to let things dwindle and tackle it more directly, if required, at secondary. Interested to read how unhappy a similar relationship made you, Ahh, and worth remembering the pressure my DD might be under. But neither she nor I want to leave this girl totally isolated.

Roseformeplease Sat 02-Feb-13 22:19:49

I think the older parents was mentioned because she was a much longed for child of a late relationship and so the Mum's overbearing involvement in her own child's social life may be as a result of this, so excusable, in a way. That has always been my take on it. But maybe she would have been this way in any case.

Helltotheno Sat 02-Feb-13 22:28:14

a much longed for child of a late relationship

I'd say it's down to her personality (ie controlling). I know some extremely laid back older parents of (sometimes) only children. I also know some comparatively young 'helicopter' parents! Imo parenting is nearly always about personality type...

I think you should have a chat with the mum. I know she's the problem but it would be better for her to hear this now (from a friend so to speak) before hearing it in a much harsher way later. This way, she might have the insight to try and change things.

Roseformeplease Sat 02-Feb-13 22:31:08

You are probably right about personality...I think I just feel the need to make excuses, perhaps because I should have seen this coming.

LineRunner Sat 02-Feb-13 22:44:59

Where did she think your son was going to go, btw?

Imaginethat Sun 03-Feb-13 05:04:09

You would not leave this child isolated, her mother is arranging that. I think you are over-empathising which sort of plays into the problem. If you stop accommodating her unreasonable requests, the behaviour has to change.

AlwaysOneMissing Sun 03-Feb-13 08:33:32

The problem here is obviously the mother, none of this can be blamed on the daughter for being clingy or immature - she's just a child!

I feel really sorry for her tbh. She has a mother who is making growing up very difficult, and now her only friend is about to be steered away from her. It's this poor girl who is suffering the most from this situation.

However, that doesn't mean that your DD should be disadvantaged by this friendship, and I can see that this is a difficult situation.

How about if you start inviting this girl round to your house but at the same time, invite a couple of your DDs other friends around at the same time. You don't need to expressly tell the other mother that you are doing this, but I would do it every time you have this girl at your house. If the mother asks of course be honest (her daughter will probably tell her anyway), and if she asks you not to have other children round with her DD, just laugh and reply with a lighthearted "of course my DD can have whoever she wants here, and your DD has become friends with them too".
Surely after a couple of visits, this girl will become friendly with the other girls and some of the pressure will be taken off your DD.

If the mother has a problem with this, she will presumably just stop allowing her daughter round to your house.

If she invites your DD to her house, tell that you are sorry but you already have plans that day as your DD is having friends over, but her DD is welcome too (then quickly arrange for some of DDs friends to come round!)

Roseformeplease Sun 03-Feb-13 12:51:31

Thanks, Always. We have tried this a few times but the "Friend" just follows my daughter round the house, constantly tries to get her into another room (ie away from the other children) and asks my daugher to go off with her to do things for the two of them. For example, they might all 4 be playing in the Wii, which is in the sitting room. She will say "DD, can you come outside for a minute to talk" and then will try to persuade my daughter to go off and play with her in another room.

I think what I need to do, as advised upthread, is keep doing these things but stiffen my daugher's resolve and support her to do things with other children and invite this girl along but not be alone with her when pressured to do that.

As for where she expected my son to go...who knows? Maybe she thought he could be sent off with friends. He does have friends but, being a boy, doesn't really seem to see them much outside school. He reads a lot, plays on his laptop (teaching himself computer code) and talks on Skype to his penfriend. He also has quite a lot of homework so gets on with that. I think the problem with him was jealousy. He and my daughter get on really well and he would happily join in a game of Monopoly or watch a film with the girls but is happy not to as well.
THis is really helping me to not feel I was wrong to worry.

pollypandemonium Sun 03-Feb-13 13:00:46

My heart sinks when I hear this, reminds me of my own dd's clingiest friends. It may be that she has to be cruel to be kind. The first day at secondary is a big one and she may need to turn her back on her friend and hope she finds someone else - or at least to manage their friendship and have things to say like 'I'll see you on ...', then turn away. Sounds really bitchy but clingy girls are top manipulators and will get round anything others put in place. Your daughter needs to learn how to defend herself against this - give her examples of what she can say.

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