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Opinionated friend criticises my mothering

(26 Posts)
skydancer1 Wed 23-Jul-08 11:06:20

I have a dear friend whom I've known for over 15 years but since I've had my son (coming up to two years old) I've often found her irritating to the point of unbearable on the subject of my parenting. She has always been a strongly opinionated, critical type and in the past I've always managed to take her comments about nearly everything and everyone else (including myself) with a pinch of salt. This is because she is also a very loving friend, and I've always valued her plain speaking, honesty and integrity. So I want to keep her as a friend. However, she is not a mother (and looks like she wont ever be as she has no wish for a baby and is now in her mid forties), and I think she doesn't realise how sensitive a mum can be to perceived criticism. I had her to stay with me recently and she came out with all sorts of stuff that led us to argue in the end. She thought I didn't provide enough structure for my son, put him to bed too late, gave in to his every wish, shouldn't say good-bye to my son if I'm leaving him temporarily with someone else (e.g her) as it will 'wind him up' (not true, he's used to this and separates without anxiety), etc. etc! When I challenged her on all these things saying I do it my way, out of my own values and believe the child is happy and well she said she thought I was just making it hard on myself by the way I parented and she would do it completely differently. I suspect (though didn't say this to her) that in part this friend was jealous at times of all the attention I was giving my son and simply wanted more one to one time with me, and her criticisms came out of irritation at not getting the old friend she used to have giving undivided attention (this despite the fact that I got my partner to baby-sit one evening so we could go out for a meal and a baby-sitter for another lunch we had). I was surprised how much her criticisms got to me as usually I am fairly robust. However I suppose most people if they have said anything at all tend to say I'm a very good mum (so that kind of feedback is all right!) By the time she left I felt really distressed and undermined. Do other people have experience of friends interfering/criticising their mothering/parenting (I know mother-in -laws are a classic case but we don't have any still alive, for better or worse!)? And is it mainly non-parent friends who tend to offer their words of wisdom?

lljkk Wed 23-Jul-08 11:09:59

lol. she sounds unbearable.
U sound like u have patience of a saint.
Sorry, no idea what u should do.

RubySlippers Wed 23-Jul-08 11:10:00

ah, that old chestnut - the people who don't have children are PERFECT parents

he is your DS and providing you aren't giving him neat vodka for breakfast she should keep her nose out

is she really a dear friend? A dear friend would support you and be constrcutive and preferably ply you with huge amounts of chocolates and alcohol when they come to visit

3littlefrogs Wed 23-Jul-08 11:10:19

For your own sanity, perhaps you should reduce the time you spend with her, and see her only without your ds. Also - meet on neutral territory.

Having a child is a huge life changing event (stating the obvious, I know) and some friendships don't survive. Some do, some go on hold for a while.

RubySlippers Wed 23-Jul-08 11:11:25

i am not sure you can keep her as a friend if you find her irritating to the point of being inbearable

i am going to be really charitable and suggest she is perhaps jealous/unhappy that she doesn't have children? Is that a possibility or is she just a moo?

Ispy Wed 23-Jul-08 11:15:44

I agree with 3littlefrogs on all counts. She does sound like a PITA though!

IneedacleanerIamalazyslattern Wed 23-Jul-08 11:21:11

My sister is a bit like this, she has watched super nanny and now knows it all.
My sister irritates me at times in other ways but like your friend she is a loving person and in her own way thinks she is helping me.
I do try and ignore it most of the time but I have snapped on occassion and told her I wouldn't tell her how to run a pub (she is a licensee) so she shouldn't be telling me how to raise my children.

3littlefrogs Wed 23-Jul-08 11:23:42

grin at supernanny. That's the trouble with these programmes - people watch them and immediately think they have acquired the knowledge and experience of a qualified professional.

DeeRiguer Wed 23-Jul-08 11:27:35

there should have been a "Stop Press:" at the start of your thread title grin

once you have kids everyone feels qualified to comment
dont let it bug you really...fight back with glib comments about the meeja and suppernanny etc..
if you like her that is..

thebecster Wed 23-Jul-08 11:28:27

grin Quite a few of my childless friends (mostly ex-colleagues) are like this. They gave me advice on everything from how to deal with morning sickness (I had HG, they'd never been pregnant), to explanations of how to deal with teething, tantrums, phobias, potty training, you name it. I ignore them. But if they go on too long, I drop into conversation that I never judge other parents since I became a parent, and how easy it is to judge when you've never done it. I say it conversationally, at a non-tense time, and it seems to put them off. If it doesn't I just let it wash over me and start giving them advice on their lovelives. (Much needed advice, might I add!)

theSuburbanDryad Wed 23-Jul-08 11:34:48

My friend does this - she's currently pg with her 1st child, due in Sept and I'm just holding on as I know that when she's a mother herself she won't find it so easy! Is that a bit evil?

She says things like, "I don't understand why your ds is "still" in nappies" (he's 18 months) and "That child is far too big to be breastfed - urrrgh, it's Bitty!"

The thing is, I know I was like this too before I had ds, so i'm trying to be patient with her. If I were in your position I'm afraid I would have to curtail the amount of time I spent with her for my own sanity! Or failing that, just counteract everything negative she says with a calm, "Yes, i thought that before I had children." grin

IneedacleanerIamalazyslattern Wed 23-Jul-08 11:35:59

grin I know 3littlefrogs I can only imagine what she would be like if she ever read a GF book.

Another thing that I have found makes it easy for me to shut out these ahem helpful people is that I am sooooo not the parent I thought I would be before I had children. I had so many ideas of how I would do things and when the little darlings came along it all changed so I remember that when childless people are offering their opinions.

TheCrackFox Wed 23-Jul-08 11:38:04

It is a sad fact that some friendships die when you have children.

Pinkglow Wed 23-Jul-08 11:42:17

I have a friend like this but shes the WORST kind

childless and a nursery nurse AHHHHHHHHHh

im still pregnant but so far ive had

'dont have an epidural - dont you know how dangerous they are'

'dont ever call a child naughty, you just say to them - thats not good'

'i really dont believe mothers should work at all' (shes a nursery nurse FFS)

The thing is she only sees the children she deals with 9-5pm, she just sees parents quickly dropping their kids off then whisking them off home again so doesnt see the parents interact with their children, i dread to think what she will be like when the baby is actually born

StellaWasADiver Wed 23-Jul-08 11:47:50

You call her a dear friend, so can't you just tell her to button it?

If she were even possibly going to have children I'd advise the old 'smile and nod' as everyone is entitled to be a bit naive, but unless she has a child she isn't going to have that reality check that you do - you know... you have it all planned out in your head then you give birth and realise life is not like that...

Tell her that unfortunately this is one area where she does not know better than you and you don't want her opinion on every little thing you do. If you DO want her opinion you will ask.

If she really is a good friend she'll realise it's not her place to comment.

scootermum Wed 23-Jul-08 11:55:19

I find it hard with childless friends sometimes..they just dont get the things that are important in my life sometimes, (although none of them would be critical)

Why not save this friend for when you are without DS..Save her for 'adult' time-you dont need to talk about DS and can have that total downtime-which In find really lovely sometimes, and the friend gets the one on one time with you she wants?

skydancer1 Wed 23-Jul-08 12:24:17

Wow I didn't expect so many prompts responses - thanks a lot and made me laugh - you gals have obviously been there :0 Will say more when have a moment.

skydancer1 Wed 23-Jul-08 18:33:45

Ruby slippers neat vodka for breakfast kind of sounds like a neat idea at the moment grin but maybe for me not the wee man. And 3littlefrogs your suggestions sounded helpful. All comments really interesting - and yes I am of a mind to a) see her less with the baby and b) if criticisms come up be firmer in nipping it in the bud. It was unusual to have her stay with me - usually we meet up less often. The thing is - this friend is only unbearable on the subject of my child. But as you other mums have obviously noticed, THAT subject is a big deal when your child is this small and your life pretty much revolves around them. It's tricky generally with old friends who remain childless, as a lot of them I find have just dropped out of my orbit on the whole. They still view me as a friend but don't actually see me that much wink. I think we find each other a bit boring as we don't share the same interests so much and I think for them a date is a bit of a drag having to relate to a small child as much if not more than with me. I think also (whoever said it here) slightly unconscious jealousy can play a part in their aversion. Even if they say they never wanted children it's just so hard-wired in the human being to recreate I think that it sets up a bit of conflict in some of them.

HereComeTheGirls Wed 23-Jul-08 19:18:36

My auntie does this, and I can't say anything as she looks after my DD one morning a week while I am at work...but AAAARGH I feel your pain. She has no children and spouts these ridiculous opinions all the time, and doesn't believe that I know when my DD is tired/hungry etc. angry

sarah293 Wed 23-Jul-08 19:22:00

Message withdrawn

skydancer1 Wed 23-Jul-08 19:46:10

I think the thing to probably do is to think up good answers/what to say to the 'helpful' advisor when they're not actually there driving you up the wall but when cool and in a happier frame of mind - wait for the next insufferably arrogant comment and then say whatever you want to say clearly and calmly. The other alternative is to go in all snarling and gnashing teeth of course but we might not see these people again...grin

zazen Wed 23-Jul-08 23:45:28

I have made many mummy friends since I had my DD and see my old single and childless gal pals when I've got babysitting - but, my Real Life is with a small child, and my Old Gal Pals have seen very little of me for the past 4 years. I don't miss them that much to be honest.

I listen to their silliness, smile and say 'oh yes, when I didn't have a child I had all the answers also, and the time to read all those parenting books'.

You will probably find that you will begin to select friends who support you, and your old friends who are un-supportive will fade into the background, until a time when you really don't give a monkey's ass what their opinions are.

Alexa808 Thu 24-Jul-08 09:32:44

skydancer and all other mums with the same problem: buy your friend/rellie/neighbour this book: www.amazon.com/Was-Really-Good-Before-Kids/dp/081185650X/ref=pd_bbs_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1216888222 &sr=8-1

or check out: www.reallygodmom.com

Hilarious!! And so true wink

Alexa808 Thu 24-Jul-08 09:43:35

Sry, this is the right link: www.iwasareallygoodmom.com/

AnnVan Wed 30-Jul-08 03:19:50

Skydancer - I'm pg with irst child. DPs younger sister is a nurserynurse and also childless. THe baby hasn't been born yet and she's already showing a complete lack of respect or my decisions as a parent (she keeps going on about the fact that I'm going to use cloth nappies)
Personally I think that unless you're harming or neglecting your child others should stay the ** out of it. Everyone has a different parenting style.
I think, if she keeps on like it I will tell her so, and I think you need to tell your riend - especially as it is obviously upsetting you quite badly!

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