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Is this just part of growing up?

(37 Posts)
RebeccaWithTheGoodHair Wed 07-Sep-16 10:05:35

I hope someone can give me some advice and that I've posted this in the right place - apologies if I haven't.

The background is that my DD is 8, quite young for her age but with a fine temper on her. We have friends with a DS of 12. Been friends for a few years as we share a similar hobby and have enjoyed socialising with them.

Over the last year their DS has started to tease and wind DD up, nothing hugely serious, things like rhyming her name with poo or laughing when he beats her in a race. This infuriates DD and she has shouted and even hit him when he won't stop. Without getting over-analytical I then have to tell her to behave, when his behaviour beforehand looks innocent and 'fun'. It's not to her but I know they are at different stages and and probably with his friends this is just how they interact with each other.

However I don't know what to do. DD is now refusing to see/speak to him and I want to support that. But this means essentially cutting out the friendship with the entire family. I have cooled it off recently but as we used to spend evenings around each other's houses, go to the pub together and do our hobby for a few hours at the weekend I can imagine it is perplexing from their POV. I do still spend time with the female DF and DH does with the male DF, it's just trying to keep DD from their DS that is the problem.

So you may say that I should just talk to DF and tell her the situation, which I have in the past. However, all that this will mean is he will apologise to DD and he/DF will then think the situation is over and dealt with but it isn't for DD.

Do I have to tell her that this is a part of life and she needs to get used to it? But then am I teaching her that you can get away with any behaviour so long as you apologise afterwards? Thinking forward could this be setting her up for confusing and potentially EA relationships in the future b/c she's been told to accept what she - and I - believe to be an insincere apology with no intention of modifying behaviour going forward? And that her anger is wrong and can't be expressed (I v much believe girls should be encouraged to express anger but learn to control it, not feel they have to suppress it).

Or am I making her into a special snowflake who can't resolve problems? In the wider picture we're only talking about one child who is a bit of a wind up merchant and another who is a bit sensitive. She will come across plenty of people like him in her life and this could be a valuable lesson to build resilience for the future.

The friends are now pressing for us to get together, DD is adamant she won't speak to their son, DH and the male DF have a get-together planned (another hobby they share which was fixed a while ago).

If we get together DD will be sulky, refuse to speak, growl at him if he tries to speak to her and look like she is the 'bad' child (I only say 'bad' b/c it's the easiest word to use, I don't mean that I think she is 'bad').

I'm confused what is the right thing to do for her - or if neither of my ideas are right and anyone can think of another way of going about it.

My ideal outcome would be that DD could just ignore the son and the grown-ups could spend time together reasonably peacefully (not too often of course!).

dontcrynow Wed 07-Sep-16 10:19:13

Are you there when this happens? I think you will have to intervene in some way in support of your dd. Give her some stock answers eg 'its unkind to make fun of others'
You could say to him that its obvious that he would win a race as he's bigger and older.
Tell your friend that the age difference is making it difficult for your dd to enjoy playing with her ds

Im sure other mumsnetters will have better suggestions but really you have to demonstrate to your daughter that you are on her side

MrsJayy Wed 07-Sep-16 10:26:08

Oh tricky he is to old to be be racing an 8yr old etc he is constantly winding her up which is she is reacting to. Meet if you want but keep her beside you and get her or you to say no i dont want to play. I dont think you can have the adult time that you want now its going to be to stressful i think

fieldfare Wed 07-Sep-16 10:28:00

If you're that good friends do you not tell their son off when he starts with this kind of unkind antagonising behaviour?
I can understand why your dd wants nothing to do with him tbh!

Yes, you have to discuss this with your friend. Her son is being unkind and treating your dd in a way she finds unacceptable. That doesn't make her a special snowflake, she has boundaries that he's crossing and she finds embarrassing and mean spirited. Encourage her to stand up for herself.

She needs to learn how to handle it better but can only do that with your support. Tell her that you'll all be getting together soon, you've spoken to his Mum and promise to help intervene if it happens again. Give her some tools to use - "stop that, you are being unkind and I do NOT like it" etc. She must not be allowed to hit when becoming frustrated though.
If it we me, with my close friend's son I would have raised my voice, "Enough! Friend's son - you are being unkind, stop immediately. Dd, we do not hit, we use our words to explain how someone is making us feel sad with their words or actions" etc. You get the picture.

MrsJayy Wed 07-Sep-16 10:29:10

I would let your 8yr old growl at him she doesnt like him she doesnt have to like him its ok i know it will make your dd look rude but maybe the boy will get the message to leave her alone

RebeccaWithTheGoodHair Wed 07-Sep-16 10:30:44

I've tried doing that in the past and he just apologises and expects it all to be OK, lip service if you like. It isn't OK for DD or me!

Not wanting to drip feed but he doesn't constantly wind her up, sometimes they can still play nicely together and enjoy each other's company - I'd say about half the time.

Sorry, hope that was OK to add in.

MrsJayy Wed 07-Sep-16 10:34:06

Ah ok fair enough i think then when you see anything escalating you are going to have to step in get your friend on board

TheBakeryQueen Wed 07-Sep-16 10:37:50

Doesn't his mum ever step in and tell him to behave himself?

Because this would be the biggest issue for me.

I've been in situations similar to this and I cannot be bothered to parents other childrens' behaviour- a one-off maybe but not if he just keeps reverting back to the teasing.

I would try and tactfully avoid them for a bit and see if he has grown out of it in a few months.

Stevefromstevenage Wed 07-Sep-16 10:39:25

Rebecca I think you are doing the absolute right thing. 4 years at that stage is quite a big disparity in terms of maturity and power and you have to be the one to level the playing pitch for your daughter. He is being nasty and a bit of a bully and she is too young to have the skills to match his manipulation so she is responding with the tools she actually has. This, I have no doubt, in his parents eyes are making her look like the unreasonable one and like you are ' snowflaking ' her which I do not believe to be true from the context you are giving. You cannot control their child's behaviour and they are not being proactive enough so yes you need to protect your DD from it.

RebeccaWithTheGoodHair Wed 07-Sep-16 10:43:13

Friend is either oblivious or doesn't think it's serious. For eg she did tell him not to rhyme her name with poo and to apologise. Which he did but by that time DD was so wound up that she wouldn't accept it. Now I don't blame DD and told her right there that I understood. But from DF's POV you can see that she would feel the situation was resolved, her son had done the right thing and my DD was sulky and ungrateful.

I just can't work out if the son is sneaky and manipulative, or just unable to know where to draw the line. He has plenty of good points and I don't think he's a mean child as such.

Thanks so much for replies so far.

FATEdestiny Wed 07-Sep-16 10:45:46

Do either of the children have siblings?

What you describe sounds like an average sibling relationship. As if neither have learnt how to deal with this kind of dynamic with thier own brother/sister.

My children could never play all together if they didn't learn to manage the fact that older sibling will win more easily.

I can't say sibling rivalry (which OPs situation sounds similar to even tho they aren't siblings ) is setting anyone up for an EA relationship. That's just an over reaction.

RebeccaWithTheGoodHair Wed 07-Sep-16 10:46:59

I posted before I saw your message steve - thank you, that about sums it up.

The only thing to do really is to stop seeing the adults isn't it? Although that is easier said than done without causing hurt and bad feelings all round.

I can see why they would think we were the unreasonable, selfish and horrible ones, but hopefully from my examples you can see where I'm coming from and that I'm not totally wrong.

RebeccaWithTheGoodHair Wed 07-Sep-16 10:48:13

Fate - no they are both only children.

Isetan Wed 07-Sep-16 11:11:21

I am so with your DD on this, she has made the very mature decision to limit her exposure to this little shit. What is perplexing is where the dilemma is? If the roles were reversed, would you hang out with a bitch because your children were friends? I suspect not, you'd find a solution where your exposure to your antagonist was limited.

Maybe it's just me but no, I wouldn't prioritise a friendship if the price was my DD being bullied for even 50% of the time (confused like the percentage makes a difference). The message that you're sending out to your daughter with your dithering, is that it's OK to be bullied if it means that her parents aren't inconvenienced. That is not (and never will be) a positive message to promote to anybody, let alone a child.

FATEdestiny Wed 07-Sep-16 11:14:50

With regards to the racing, I think you/she are being a bit Precious Snowflake by just stopping contact. The facts are:

- They are different ages.
- Many games children play have a competitive element
- the eldest is more likely to win and the youngest more likely to lose.

Parents with more than 1 child face this dilemma day in, day out. You could:

- Ban competitive play, make all playing non competitive.
- Both sets of parents talk to both children about the win/lose situation and agree on a long term solution, like playing fair
- Introduce the idea of "handicapping" (like in golf or horseracing) to even out advantage
- Talk to your daughter about all she learns when she doesn't win
- Encourage a "coaching" role in the older child
- Teach the concept of having good grace. Not being 'in your face' when you win, helping the loser not feel bad.

- or maybe just separate and stop contact. Surely this is a last option though?

After all the ideas above, you then face the moral questions in relation to winning and losing and the competitive nature of the big, wide world.

Mrstumbletap Wed 07-Sep-16 11:22:07

I would still meet up as normal and just say to your DD, if you don't want to play, race etc then don't, but don't be shout/hit be rude to him. Just don't engage with his games, she should still say hello, be polite etc.

Maybe tell her to take a book, toy, something to entertain her so she can just do that. He is a 12 year old boy and he maybe just be a bit bored and wind her up to get a reaction. If she doesn't play with him he will have to entertain himself or play nicely and not wind her up.

Don't ruin your social life with two good friends you and your DH both get on with because of the kids. In 8 years the kids will essentially be gone doing their own thing and you may regret losing that friendship. (And the kids may get married) grin

FATEdestiny Wed 07-Sep-16 11:28:59

Absolutely agree with Mrstumbletap.

Long term, I don't believe you are helping your daughter (or your own friendships) by just avoiding the situation instead of giving her ideas how to deal with it.

Go prepared.

Have several ideas for non competitive play. Have the suff you need for this. Can they build a den together? Do craft? wash cars?

Play and socislise as a large group with adults and children. Game of rounders? Play Monopoly as teams? Go swimming?

Have several ideas for solo play for your DD. Colouring in, seeing, book, tablet.

FATEdestiny Wed 07-Sep-16 11:30:10

Seeing = sewing

RebeccaWithTheGoodHair Wed 07-Sep-16 11:31:26

grin at them getting married. It would be Groomzilla and MotherofGroomzilla I swear!!

RebeccaWithTheGoodHair Wed 07-Sep-16 11:35:00

FATE and Mrstumbletap thanks for coming in with the opposite point of view.

isetan said I'm dithering and it's true because every angle I look at it from has a pro and a con. Essentially though I want what's best for DD but can't work out if it's:

- protecting from an unfair situation and knowing your parents have got your back always
- facing up to an unfair situation and coming out stronger

Stevefromstevenage Wed 07-Sep-16 11:35:42

Personally I would not stop meeting the parents but I would meet them without the children. Tell them that your Dd is getting older and seems to be preferring other activities rather than hanging out with her parents in this way, that is very definitely a typical part of growing up. They either accept that or they don't.

This, to me, is not the same as siblings because siblings have one set of parents who have typically an equal vested interest in both children and work equally with both children to teach the lessons others have spoken about. 2 sets of parents, with 2 sets of parenting simply compounds the issue.

Stevefromstevenage Wed 07-Sep-16 11:37:13

To be preferring = prefers

I don't know where I was originally going with that sentence.

GoodLuckTime Wed 07-Sep-16 12:10:28

Agree your best solution maybe to stop seeing them with your DD (eg arrange for a day she is on a play date elsewhere).

As adults most of us avoid people we don't like wherever possible. Eg DH has a friend, I don't get along with his wife (neither does DH).
They would like to be couple friends however we resist this and keep contact infrequent. DH sees his friend one on one. We do thing all together rarely and I have declined all direct invites from the wife.

However, I would be more honest with my friends. I would say DD is not enjoying seeing their DS. I would acknowledge the age gap may be a driver but I would also say something like:

'I appreciate he apologised when prompted if DD is upset. However I think what she, and I would be looking for is more than that, it is also him taking on board that doing those things (and then list: the name calling, the laughing when winning at unfair games, whatever else) is unkind. And to continue seems and feels like it is deliberate. So what would Really make a difference for DD is not just an apology but a real effort to do things differently and stop the unkind behaviour going forward.

However, I appreciate all that may be too much to ask, so happy to do xzy but DD won't come with us.'

This is not about her accepting loosing. It's about repeated unkind / bullying behaviour which is then glossed over with an apology. If it happens again then the apology was not genuine. Your DD is right not to accept this and you ARE modelling good behaviour supporting that. In fact I would have already called their DS out over that whenever it happened.

I would consider having the conversation with the other parents with DD listening in (eg if on the phone) to model for her how to address this more sophisticated bullying (which is basically, I can upset you if it amuses me, and carry on doing so, as long as I say the word 'sorry' from time to time).

That is still a nasty thing to do. And your DD knows it.

She doesn't have to see him, she doesn't have to be nice and polite. After all He is not being nice and polite. Perhaps he and his parents think he is being funny but a joke is only funny if everyone is laughing.

This isn't funny for your DD and good for her for making that clear.

No means no. In all circumstances.

Stevefromstevenage Wed 07-Sep-16 12:33:28

The other thing that crossed my mind was that I read some research recently, but I cannot seem to put my finger on it. The research did not back up the much held assertion that meeting bulling behaviours early in life and learning to deal with them via these encounters was key to teaching our children how to deal with bullies in the future. In fact it appeared that having no experience of bullying in earlier life gave better outcomes for children. The conclusion drawn from the research was that children who had not encountered bullying behaviours had higher self esteem and as a result we better able to cope with bullying behaviours in the future than those who had experienced bullying themselves.

Now I get you are not saying this child is an out and our bully, very few people are, however his behaviour towards your daughter has elements of bullying in it. So definitely if you are continuing to see this family that must be stamped out.

RebeccaWithTheGoodHair Wed 07-Sep-16 13:04:02

Thanks Steve that's definitely worth knowing.

I'm still confused as buggery how to move the situation forward without ruining everything. The mother isn't going to react well, or even understand why the apologies aren't enough. It's not going to be pleasant.

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