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Did anyone have all their childhood friends chosen for them?

(33 Posts)
augustice Thu 11-Feb-21 12:49:43

I have NC to ask this very strange question. There was plenty that was quite strange about my childhood and I am only learning now that certain aspects were unusual. I don't want to bring all that to this thread. I am just wondering if anybody else had all their friends chosen, or certain friendships encouraged?

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honeylulu Fri 12-Feb-21 09:11:55

It didn't quite happen like that but yes my mother did try and choose my friends for me. She was (is) quite snobby and also religious. We went to private school and she disliked us mixing with anyone not from that school or from our Sunday school. Even within those approved parameters she actively steered us away from some kids (those with divorced parents for example). I didn't really realise it was happening until my teens when I brought "unsuitable" friends or boyfriends home and she was shockingly unpleasant and rude. I was astounded - this was someone obsessed with manners! And a practising Christian! It was quite damaging. I just kept much of my social and love life secret and lied about where I was going etc. Most of these people were perfectly nice; they just didn't fit the right criteria.

augustice Fri 12-Feb-21 11:30:45

Thank you for sharing your experiences. They are remarkably similar to mine. Yes my mother was religious, in that we went to church, and yes much of this was to do with children of divorced parents. I am now a divorced parent myself and my mother has started chuntering about a lovely friend of my daughter because she has been told the girl's mother has children with different fathers. Fortunately my daughter sees this as ridiculous and ignores her. There are numerous similarly stupid examples. My daughter can't imagine having all her friends chosen for her and my mother hasn't worked out that she doesn't have power of veto over my daughter's friendships. I never actually stood up to my mother over this issue and just lived my life in secret. I remember there was a divorced mature student on my university course who she insisted I should not talk to. It wasn't just divorce. All sorts of stupid reasons. I just accepted all of this as normal at the time and only now do I see how wrong it was.

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Bubblefart Fri 12-Feb-21 12:04:39

I had a classmate who got all their childhood friends chosen for them. We became close at school at age 9 and she invited me around to her house for a playdate, which turned into a 2 hour grilling by her parents (we did not play at all) while she sat outside.

The next morning, she ignored me at school and made others friends

StephenBelafonte Fri 12-Feb-21 12:08:43

I certainly encouraged some friendships a lot more than others. Why wouldn't you?

augustice Fri 12-Feb-21 12:14:49

There's a difference between encouraging or discouraging friendships and banning all interaction with those who are not preselected by a parent.

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StephenBelafonte Fri 12-Feb-21 12:17:14

There's a difference between encouraging or discouraging friendships and banning all interaction with those who are not preselected by a parent.

Yeah, but she couldn't ban interaction with children at school could she? And she couldn't ban interaction with others once you were a teenager, you've said yourself you stood up to her and maintained friendships in secret.

It's not perfect parenting, I agree, but on the other hand I wouldn't expect someone to need therapy for it wink

augustice Fri 12-Feb-21 12:25:41

No, I don't think I need therapy over it but as I have said in the opening post there is a lot more to this than I have brought up in this post. I have said I did not stand up to her, I just went along with it and did not interact with anyone I was not allowed to. By lived my life in secret I had a boyfriend in my 20s and kept it secret. I did not go out after school or weekends.

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StephenBelafonte Fri 12-Feb-21 12:29:34

Yes, I'm sorry I misread your comment and thought you said you did stand up to her.

I guess all we can do is learn from our parents mistakes and not make the same mistakes with our kids.

StephenBelafonte Fri 12-Feb-21 12:30:32

Where was your dad in all this? Is he blame free?

augustice Fri 12-Feb-21 12:33:16

Yes, sorry if I sounded snippy. I have tried to do things differently but because my childhood was very far from normal in all sorts of different ways it is difficult to know which aspects of my childhood were normal and which were not.

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augustice Fri 12-Feb-21 12:35:43

My father worked abroad and I don't remember him being present when any of this was going on.

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BadMotherLover Fri 12-Feb-21 12:39:06

If someone is genuinely a bad influence then I may say something, or if there was a safeguarding issue. Otherwise leave well alone, this will backfire badly, as OP has written, with DM as a control freak (and a bad Christian).

ItisLikethis Fri 12-Feb-21 12:42:08

When I was much younger, yes. But only because I enjoyed playing on my own for hours with my pets, climbing trees and riding my bike. I also preferred the company and pastimes of boys and was quite a tomboy.

I think this concerned my mother - that I wasn't really making friendships with other girls of the same age and background. Of course, I eventually did. Though I'll never forget Robert, Ross, Christopher and Nathaniel - my best buds at one stage.

StephenBelafonte Fri 12-Feb-21 12:53:13

There was a great little novel published last year by an up and coming author called "The Book of Memory" which is basically about the unreliability of childhood recall.

Was there something wrong with the friends that your mum encouraged for you OP?

TwilightSkies Fri 12-Feb-21 12:58:10

She just sounds very controlling. And judgemental/snobby.
Would you describe her as a happy person?

Silenceisgolden20 Fri 12-Feb-21 12:58:20

Yes. It was def more than encouragement as friends she didn't like, it was made quite clear.

But then I'm now an adult who has realised both my parents were quite controlling and toxic in certain ways.

Choosing my friends was just one of those ways.

Nothing to do with religion though. More snobbery and caring what others think way more than their children's feelings.

Silenceisgolden20 Fri 12-Feb-21 13:02:22

My children choose wisely with their friends, which I'm pleased about but with no help from me. They seem to know themselves. After my experience i would encourage good friendships and unless their is a safeguarding issue or harm being done, i would step back. Let them work it out.

StormyInTheNorth Fri 12-Feb-21 13:02:31

She went a few steps forward and sabotaged every friendship so by the time I got to high school I had no idea how to go about making friends.

pog100 Fri 12-Feb-21 13:05:00

@StephenBelafonte I'm not sure why you are trying to minimise OP's experience. It's perfectly clear that now she has some distance she sees a lot wrong with her mother's parenting. While I agree there is a spectrum of the level of control parents try to exert of friendships, and that the wrong friends can definitely be disastrous to kids, it's pretty much a truism that such control is doomed to failure and only leads to the even more damaging prospect of unsuitable "secret" friends.

ForeverBubblegum Fri 12-Feb-21 13:05:26

I always had to have playdates with the siblings of my sisters friends, weather or not we got on. Even now she asks me about them, as though we are life long friends. We tolerated each other at 6, and haven't spoken since about 10, when I started arrange my own social life.

MrsBobDylan Fri 12-Feb-21 13:08:25

@StephenBelafonte are you suggesting op is mid-recalling her childhood? Perhaps you can identify a little to closely with op's abusive mother to be of real use on this thread.

OP, parents should support their children to find out who they are and choosing friends is a very important developmental stage which your Mother denied you.

Her actions were as damaging as they were valueless - how could divorced parents ever be a good indicator of someone's compatibility to you as a friend?

augustice Fri 12-Feb-21 13:09:14

There was nothing wrong with the friends. It was just that they weren't friends. They would be invited by my mother, she would put on a very formal meal and it would be achingly awkward. There wouldn't be any playing.

She is a terrible inverted snob. She seems happy enough. We are not close so I wouldn't really know.

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ColdTattyWaitingForSummer Fri 12-Feb-21 13:11:43

I guess I do this to a certain extent with ds2, not necessarily deliberately, but as I home educate I do need to be more intentional with regard to his friendships, and it's ended up that many of his friends are children of my friends (if that makes sense). I wouldn't ban any friends as such, but if I was worried someone was a bad influence, I wouldn't go out of my way to encourage / facilitate the friendship.

seensome Fri 12-Feb-21 13:19:05

I didn't have any chosen for me, I do t think that would of worked anyway, I wasn't someone that could make friends easily.
However I did make some very bad choices, I guess I didn't have much choice! But some friends I did make at primary were a very bad influence and toxic even at that age, going into high school I ended up getting bullied by my so called friends, I do wish my parents had intervened and to had been more strict who I was hanging out with. By bad behaviour I mean primary school age, out all day/evening before mobile phones, not knowing where I was, shoplifting, being a nuisance to neighbours, smoking, my parents knew this and didn't discourage it.

I'm very different with my children, almost too over protective.

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