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My friend and her children. I just don't know what to do next.......

(119 Posts)
littlemisstickle Wed 12-Sep-07 11:45:34

This may turn into quite a ramble so apologies in advance.
One of my closest friends has got 2 daughters, aged 7 and 4. They have always been very difficult children IMO, naughty, rude and rather spoilt. My friend and her dh have had an odd/difficult relationship for a number of years, something which I don't think has done their children any good as their homelife has been somewhat bizarre.
The past year has been difficult as my friend and her dh split up. She has the children - he is useless and is very much a part-part-part-time father - and they have unfortunately been very unsettled since the split and have had to live in a few different places. The childrens behaviour has obviously not been helped by these changes, but I do not think it is any worse than it has ever been before. I have always found it difficult to know how to treat them as they are not really used to discipline but in my house and/or infront of my children I feel that I ought to discipline them the same as my children and insist that in my home they abide by my set of rules,etc.
Things recently came to a bit of a head from my point of view. I was giving them a lift somewhere when the 7 yo started hitting her mum because she couldn't get her own way on something. I got out, got her (the 7 yo) out and told her in no uncertain terms that hitting was not acceptable. She went to hit me so I grabbed her wrists and planned to hold on to them til she calmed down enough to apologise. However her tantrum continued. I picked her up and moved her out of sight of her mum and sister so that she could not "play to an audience" but the tantrum still continued with her shouting and screaming in the street. When I let go of her she hit me, kicked me, scratched me, etc. This all continued for some time, with lots of looks from passers-by. In the end when she started head butting me I told her that if she hit/kicked/anything again I would smack her bum. Now I have never smacked a child in my life, having felt that my own children are well enough behaved to not necessitate it. I also know that she (the 7yo) has never been smacked before. So, she hit me again so I smacked her bum (not hard at all, I was aiming more for the "shock" factor to try and snap her out of it). She hit me again, I smacked her bum again. And so on. In total, the tantrum continued for just short of an hour until she EVENTUALLY calmed down and EVENTUALLY apologised to both me and her mum. At which point, her mum was happy and went back to normal where as I was left feeling astounded at such disgusting behavious, and her mums reaction (or lack of) to it all.
So now I am left feeling extremely confused. I am not proud of myself for smacking someone elses child and I am sure my friend is not thanking me but what else could I have done? And I feel so cross, no angry, with my friend for raising her children like this. I know things have been tough for her but how can things be so tough that you allow your child to hit anyone? There is just no respect whatsoever. But I no longer know what to do with our friendship. I do not want to have to pretend to like her children anymore when they are, truth be told, actually not nice children. But I do not see how our friendship can survive when I feel like this. I also now realise that I cannot respect my friend when she has allowed her children to be like this.
I am sure there are people out there who will think I am in the wrong for my stepping in. I accept that, but am not on here to ask for opinions on that side of it. What I really want is some advice on how I handle the relationship with my friend and her children from here on in.
As predicted, this is a very long post. Thanks to anyone who makes their way through it!

fluffyanimal Wed 12-Sep-07 11:53:16

OK so you don't want advice on whether or not you should have intervened so I won't give any.

What do you do now? Well if you feel you can't be friends with this person any more,and if you don't want her kids to see yours and be a bad influence, then don't see her again, and if she asks why, you just have to tell her straight but as tactfully as possible. Otherwise if you want to stay friends I think you just have to let it go and accept that different people parent in different ways. Personally, I think you should let it go and just try to be supportive if she and the kids have had a tough time. But of course it's your call.

AbRoller Wed 12-Sep-07 11:54:36

Well I've made it through your very long post and I'm disgusted to say the least! You said you didn't want opinions only advice but tough shit. What you did was outrageous and had I been your friend I would have given you a belt around the head.

She is a little girl and judging by what you've said about her short life I'm thinking she may be hurting and confused and not yet able to articulate how she feels. Your behaviour as an adult was more disgusting than that of a hurt little girl!

Shame on you! angry

fluffyanimal Wed 12-Sep-07 11:56:56

Does your friend still want to be friends? Is she upset you intervened? or happy that someone tried to tackle the tantrum? Her reaction will probably have a lot to do with the future of the friendship. Whatever the rights and wrongs of what you did, what she thinks of it will count for a lot.

ledodgy Wed 12-Sep-07 11:58:54

Regardless if it was your place or not to interfere you said yourself hitting is not acceptable so hitting her wasn't really a good way to emphasise this was it?

JodieG1 Wed 12-Sep-07 12:00:48

I agree with abroller

Hurlyburly Wed 12-Sep-07 12:01:56

You are so going to get flamed for this.

Just re-emphasising the question for other posters:

"I am sure there are people out there who will think I am in the wrong for my stepping in. I accept that, but am not on here to ask for opinions on that side of it. What I really want is some advice on how I handle the relationship with my friend and her children from here on in."

Surprised you still have a relationship, personally. You wouldn't with me if the child were mine.

Listmaker Wed 12-Sep-07 12:02:40

I am surprised your friend wants anything to do with you tbh! I can't really think of anything else to say that isn't having a go at you for your disgusting actions shock so best leave it there.

Novacane Wed 12-Sep-07 12:03:07

All I could think about when reading your post is 'where was the Mum in all this?' When thinking about my friendships, I would let my friend discipline my DS, and she does when in her house, but there is no way it would go anywhere near as far as that, I would be down on him like a ton of bricks.
I think you need to examine where you stand with your friend, if she thinks that this is acceptable behaviour for her DS then there is nothing you can do TBH, and if you can't stand to see it you will have to keep her at arms length. Is she depressed? Their behavoir might have spiralled out of control and is she is down it might have been too much for her.

totaleclipse Wed 12-Sep-07 12:03:47

I agree with Abroller too, if a friend of mine smacked my child, I would be fecking livid, the frienship would end there!! How dare you hit someone elses child?!

ElesJoinsTheRevolution Wed 12-Sep-07 12:03:55

so what did you 'teach' this child? hitting your mum is you get a smack hmm

ill parp now

meowmix Wed 12-Sep-07 12:04:12

why did you step in, why not make the mother deal with it?

and if another person took charge of my child in front of me, and then proceeded to smack him repeatedly then quite honestly I wouldn't chose to be their friend in any way shape or form.

Novacane Wed 12-Sep-07 12:05:04

BTW by discipline, i dont mean hitting, would never hit or condone hitting, it should never have got that far, ie the mother should have intervened.

BobbyGrantycal Wed 12-Sep-07 12:05:18


lulumama Wed 12-Sep-07 12:05:21

if you cannot accept your friend and her children and their relationship as they are, then you should not be friends. If the children are as unpleasant as you make them sound, and you don;t enjoy spending time with them, then don't !

hitting a child, someone else's child, to show them hitting is wrong is completely obtuse.

if one of my friends smacked my child on the bottom, even if it wasn;t hard, i would be appalled. No-one has the right to do that, and a grown up should excercise enough self control to walk away.

and you smacked her more than once, which escalated the situation.

if she has a difficult marriage and her home life is hard, instead of judging her 'spoilt' children, why not do soemthing practical to help her?

maybe her children act the way they do because they are unsettled, or hurting in some way.

you smacking one of them does not address the situation or help in anyway.

intervening in disciplining friends' chidlren is a fine line, and you crossed it, IMO

MaureenMLove Wed 12-Sep-07 12:05:26

Understand first of all, that a lot people are going to absolutely slate you for what you did, so please don't run off and not talk to those who have objective things to say. Its very difficult to put into words 'how' it all happened and only you know all the ins and outs of this relationship now and in the past, so its not very useful for people to just shout at you. Nuff said!

So, have you spoken to you friend about it yet? How did she react when you got back to the car?

SofiaAmes Wed 12-Sep-07 12:06:00

Think you did your best to deal with this girl. Personally wouldnt let my children anywhere near a child with that sort of behavior. And if I am understanding correctly, the mother was there the whole time and did nothing about her daughter's behavior so presumably thought it was acceptable. I would recommend moving on from this friendship.

CitizenColditz Wed 12-Sep-07 12:07:31

Do you actually still have a relationship? I would be very surprised if so.

At the point at which she started to misbehave, you should have stepped aside and let her mother deal with her, because now one of two things will happen

a) Your friend will hate you


b) You have become the new disciplinarian in their lives, and will be expected to do this all the time.

You cannot live people's lives for them, and that includes the discipline of their children. If she is prepared to blind eye something her daughter does, you have the choice of either accepting it, or speaking up and walking away - you cannot step in and smack the child. That is not what friends do.

themildmanneredjanitor Wed 12-Sep-07 12:08:23

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

niceglasses Wed 12-Sep-07 12:09:03

Well you'll get lots of stuff about the smacking etc and if it were me I'd be furious someone intervened like that.

However, I think you have to ask yourself some searching questions now.

How much do you want to continue to be her friend?

Can you overcome your problems with her kids to be her friend? Because chances are the kids won't change for a while and you will have to overcome your dislike of them to remain close to her.

The bottom line is, they are her kids. If she needs your help, she will ask for it.

lou33 Wed 12-Sep-07 12:09:11

you have no place dealing with someone elses child like that, regardless of what you think

you may not approve of the mums style of parenting but my god if you laid a finger on my child , i certainly wouldnt let you get away with it

and if i was your friend i would have nothing to do with you again, quite frankly

littlemisstickle Wed 12-Sep-07 12:09:47

Fluffy, we have spoken briefly on the phone and she appears to be just as normal. It is me that is struggling with it. I don't think I want our friendship to end after such a long time but i just can't see at the moment how to continue it - do I act like nothing happened and pretend it was so insignificant that I've forgotten?

Ledodgy, you are right. I don't believe people should hit one another and I certainly wasn't doing it to hurt her. I had tried to make the point to her that her mum doesn't hit her so why should she hit her mum, and then got to the reasoning in my head of seeing if I could demonstrate how unnecessary it is. However, I still know in my heart that reacting to "violence" with more "violence" was not the right thing. That is why I haven't asked if my actions were reasonable or acceptable or anything like that. Instead I am asking for advice on how to move forward.

Abroller, I don't need your shame. As you may have gathered from my OP this whole situation is playing on my mind a great deal. And if you had been my friend it doesn't sound like you would have raised a child like this so we would never have been in this situation. Please note that my friend (her mum) did not say a word about what happened, either at the time or since.

littlemisstickle Wed 12-Sep-07 12:10:43

Janitor, I didn't smack her for an hour! I was saying that her tantrum lasted an hour. The majority of that time I spent trying to calm her down and stop her lashing out at me.

Doodledootoo Wed 12-Sep-07 12:11:03

Message withdrawn

themildmanneredjanitor Wed 12-Sep-07 12:12:13

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

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