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Best friend, nightmare child = tension!!!!!!

21 replies

monkey · 08/04/2003 09:06

I am really struggling to see my way through this problem - I'll apologise in advance as I'm sure I'm going to rant for ages.

I moved to a new area a couple of years ago, I met loads of people but didn't have a special friend, in fact it's been ages since I have, due to moving a lot. Anyway, last October "Sue" moved near here & we really hit it off. She is a great friend - very kind, very generous, always offering & keen to help, my 2 sons really love her too, and she is so lovely with them too.

Big problem & it's getting worse by the minute - her ds. He's 2 next week & I can't bear him. He drives me mad. This is v.v. unusual for me as I generally find kids easy to like. He is the only child & Sue nas no intention of having any more, which is up to her, of course. I know loads of people with only 1 kid, but none like this. Maybe it's because she doesn't want any more babies that she treats him like one, but oh, does she!!!

He gets 100% attention, all of the time - she can't finish a sentence or a cup of tea without him demanding she play with him. He doesn't/can't entertain himself for 2 seconds & she just jumps every time he clicks his fingers. From a purely selfish point of view it really irritates me, because we can never have a conversation, and certainly not do anything as grand as go to a cafe.

If anything upsets him - eg she goes to the toilet/someone else plays with a toy he wants/(on a very rare occasion) she says no to him - he has a total tantrum kicking screaming - and I mean SCREAMING - the longest most piercing high pitched shriek. It really pisses me off, especially as my younger ds has started copying the screaming.

The problem is she always panders to him - if he has a tantrum she doesn't ignore it/him/repremand him (possibly after) she tries to cheer him up, gives him full-on attention & I just feel this reinforces it, gives him loads of attention for bad behaviour & consequently he has big tantrums constantly.

For the sake of coming across as a totally judgemental bitch, the way she deals with him irritates me beyond belief. In her own words, she has taken the 'easy option' eg for his sleeping and now has terrible problems with his sleeping - she has a desturbed night every single night, but then moans constantly about it. If you ever offer a suggestion (which she asks for - it's not unwanted advice honest!) she either ignores it or comes up with 200 reasons why she couldn't do it - usually really weak ones like we have guests coming in 2 weeks!

But the biggest bugbear is the screaming. I really can't stand it & I find it really painful. At best she just mutters 'no screaming. Nobody likes a screamer' to him, usually he doesn't even hear her, I think loads of people have offered advice about it (clearly I'm not the only one who finds it annoying) eg put him in his room, but while she has done this twice in my presence, usually she just threatens it & doesn't do it & can't seem to see the difference. Just this am she 'phoned me & he was screaming in the background. i had to hold the receiver away from my ear. She issued about 6 threats no screaming - do you want to go to your room - do you want to go to the zoo - well no screaming. I then tentatively pointed out that it was getting to be a problem for me as my ds was copying, & said how I stopped him & she just said oh I've tried that but nothing works. I felt like screaming!!!

But like I said, now my son has started to copy it & I just can't tolerate it. She was away for a holiday & I stopped it in a couple of days by pouncing at every scream, but now she's back & the kids see each other again, he's copying again.

So I'm really torn. She is such a good friend, but I'm starting to get annoyed with her failure to act (either decisively or consistantly) & therefore her son's awful behaviour, which my son is starting to copy & her perpetual whingeing about his various behavioural problems which all seem to me to be tackle-able but she just can't seem to muster the wherewithall to treat him like a toddler & not a baby. (btw he is 2 next week & only has about 5 words, & I do think a lot of his screaming is frustration).

OP posts:

EmmaTMG · 08/04/2003 09:54

I have a friend who sounds similar. She has a little one and never really says a words to disapline her child, well not while I've seen her anyway. I seen the child hitting, really hard aswell, and throwing and theres never any strong words from Mum.
Now, I maybe an interferring busy-body but I'll talk to any one who's got a child having a tantrum and, sort of, help them out as personally I found if someone comments (which I wish happened more often) at my littles horrors when they're are doing their worst it tends to stop the tantrum pretty much straight away but like you any advise or comments I made even though I'm asked seem to fall on deaf ears.
If your little is starting to copy this horrible behaviour just carry one with what you're doing and when she she's what a difference it makes she may see that it does help. If she doesn't than at least you'll have a well behaved child and she'll be the one struggling. It may sound abit harsh but.....well Hey-ho


Tortington · 08/04/2003 10:52

another route if you want to save your friendship is to make it your fault so;
"sorry will have to keep the kids apart for a while until THEY both get over this screaming phase. i just cant handle it like you do, wish i could."

i have a good pfriend like this, moan moan sodding moan - you give advice - oh moan i cant do it moan and it goes on. she had the most obnoxious children one who is about 12 and a baby, the 12 year old only child for a long time used to getting what she wants from specialy made meals just for her ( cutting crusts off and other such bollocks) she gets the best everything - clothes makeup, toys and she wants it all NOW NOW NOW !
the baby last time i saw, was banging his head in the floor until he got waht he wanted - and sure enough he got it - or he got attention - personally i would sit there and watch until he hurt himself and then watch some more until he stopped crying. now the kid pinches bites and scratches - and even swears and everyone thinks it so funny - i cant see it -
i told her next time he pinched me i was gonna pinch back - and i did - little b*stard wont come near me now thank god.

the older one is also spoiled by her grandparents who give her everything and i was speaking to her mum when she interuppted expecting to get an asnwer "lisa..lisa..lisa..lisa"
i wanted to punch her how damned rude! i just turned held up a finger ( like you do to a toddler) and said " excuse me i am talking. when i have finished i will speak to you" this was in front of grandma who looked like thunder - still i dont care - i dont let other peoples children treat me, my children, my house, my things with any less respect than i expec from my children.

sorry to rant on so what i do is start with a comment like "my kid realy annoyed me because" this then leads to her going on and on about how her kids annoy her and then i interject how i wouldnt allow it in my house.

the 12 year old doesnt like her food touching on the plate!!!!!! what crap

when she comes to my house for tea she gets what she is bloody wel given and if she doesnt eat it she goes bloody well hungry and i tell her mum that

toomany mums are slaves to their kids - a mum and a slave are different IMO

TBH though, she wont change, the kid wont change - you just have to think of strategies to get round the things that make you bbbbbbboiiiiiiil!


EmmaTMG · 08/04/2003 11:13

Here here custardo. I wanted to say all what you said but wasn't brave enough. I am exactly the same as if a child is being a little bugger in my house than I'll tell them off, couldn't give a sh*t what the parent thought, it's my house and I don't let my kids behave like it so no-one elses can.
I actually think we're quite a rare breed as alot of people are to afraid to intervene but as I said early I welcome any help when mine are being horrible and won't take crap off any child regardless of who's they are.
Oh I do feel better now, being brutelly honest is so much nicer than fluffing around a subject isn't it.


Bugsy · 08/04/2003 11:42

Monkey, I can think of a few options. The first would be to stop seeing so much of "Sue" and her son during this awkward time. The second would be to see her in your house and say that you have had to introduce a "no screaming" rule in your home and that in order to keep the upper hand with your ds, then Sue's ds will have to abide by your rule too.
I have friends who allow their children to rule them, I can think of no other way of describing it, and I feel so sorry for their children as they will grow up the worse for it.


monkey · 08/04/2003 12:07

thanks all esp custardo - you made me laugh so much.

She is totally ruled by this toddler-baby-tyrant. I am quite strict with my boys, and have standards I expect from them, but I am also I think very patient & loving, but at the same tiime have some self respect. A couple of weeks ago they were all playing in our garden & her child got his hands all sandy in the sandpit - surprise surprise & he had his characteristic rigid body red-in-the-face screaming fit. I just said 'brush your hands - look like this' & he started to do it & even gave a little laugh, then decided , no, he was enjoying his tantrum to much, so "Sue" said c'mere, look wipe your hands on my trousers - and promptly wiped his mucky hands all down here cream trousers. My jaw dropped. I couldn't help but say 'you can't do that!" I mean talk about teaching your child to treat you like a dish cloth!

Bugsy - I was interested in you saying about having them round here & having the no sctreaming rule. While I fully agree with it, could you elaborate. I mean, with my ds I'll give a warniong, then if he does it I'll cart him off, either to his room, or just out of the sitting room. I can't see that I could do that with her ds. and just talking to him 'ie no sc reaming' just seems to make him scream more/fling himself bodily on the floor etc etc.

yesterday we were at a m&t group & he was screaming constantly. She said a few times I would get cross if he carried on. I couldn't decide if I was just the threat, or whether she was actually inviting me to say s'thing to him, but after 2 hours I couldn't take it any more & just said "could you stop screaming please, it hurts' & she got all defensive saying someone had taken a toy off him!

I turned down an invite from her this am, & she sounded a bit funny, like she suspected my reasons. It's a shame, because with him out of the equation she's a brilliant friend, but I am getting to the point I can barely be civil to him, which is rediculous - a 2 year old child! and her for that matter!

Any more ideas1

OP posts:

Bugsy · 08/04/2003 12:59

Monkey, is there a room in your house where the young pup could cool off in until he has burnt his tantrum out. Afterall, what fun is a tantrum without an audience. I don't really know - it is difficult. IMO, she is putting you in a miserable situation. If I am at someone's house and ds is being a horror, I try and remove him from the crowd and give him time to collect himself and if he still can't hold it together we go home.
This is no help to you, but it reinforces in my mind how children need clear boundaries. Ds knows that if I say to him "If you do that once more we are going home" I mean it and will do it, so therefore it is a really serious deterrent.
Anyhow, this has turned into a bit of a lecture and is not really helping you Monkey. I think probably you may just have to ride this one out. We have one boy in our NCT group who is undisciplined and the last 18 months have been really difficult sometimes but he does seem to be growing out of the worst of it now.


WideWebWitch · 08/04/2003 13:19

Monkey, it sounds like a right pain. I know what you mean, I have the odd friend a bit like this. Oooh, I just want to fold my arms across my ample bosom, purse my lips in a Dick Emery way and say 'she's making a rod for her own back that woman' She is, of course. You just think 'oh for goodness sake! Of course they'll do xyz if you damn well let them!' don't you? Anyway, just sympathising here, it would really get on my nerves too. I agree it might be worth taking the line of 'you have to abide by my rules in my house' i.e keep telling your ds and hers that you won't have screaming in your house and the rule is that screamers either go to their rooms or go home, in the case of her ds. Give advice if she asks but if must be very difficult not to say What's the point? You never take any notice anyway?!!! Is there a book you could lend her that might help? Something that makes her realise that she doesn't have to let her ds be in charge - Toddler Taming maybe? Perhaps she'll believe the advice if it comes from an expert?

I insist that all children, not just my ds, use please and thank you in my house so the same rules should apply to other behaviour too. Good luck, let us know how you get on.


Jimjams · 08/04/2003 13:36


2 issues really. You sound like your main problem is with the way that she deals with his tantrums. This is always tricky. I had to stop seeing a friend for a while because her ds used to throw everything in sight- and I mean everything chairs the lot. That didn't bother me too much, but his mother never told him off- just used to say uh huh don't do that darling in a a really sweet voice. Aaggggghhhhh

But- you say you think he screams a lot on frustration. And here I am on very familiar territory. DS1 is autistic- 4 next month. He can talk, but noone understands him (inlcuding me half the time) and he can really get cross. About 10 minutes ago he was in the front room, I was in the kitchen with ds2 and he started screaming - I went in and said "what's the matter" he was looking at a book with a picture of some cows and he said "gee gee". Ok fine so he wanted the picture of the horses, I found it and he was fine. That sort of scenario is repeated time after time during the day- and the only reponse that works is to get to the botton on if. On the other hand he can scream during a "normal" tantrum. Last night he didn't want to go to bed, and screamed the house down. Tough it was bed time- I put him in his room, shut the door and he stayed there.

The sandpit stuff I can sympathise with as well. Although I wouldn't let ds1 wipe his hands on me, i would try to help him as he has real sensory problems and relaly cna't bear that sort of thing (actually he screams if you put him anywhere in the vicinity of a sandpit so I guess it wouldn't happen).

I guess what I'm saying is that if a lot of the screaming is due to slightly unusual circumstances (eg not being able to talk very much) then his Mum just can't use the normal reponses as they won't work. It doesn't mean that she can't do anything about the screaming, just that it might need a different method of dealing with it. Not sure where she could get that help though, and obviously doesn't help you or your situation.


Jimjams · 08/04/2003 13:39

The horses example doesn't make much sense- he is also dyspraxic and has problems turning pages sometimes- which was why he was scremaing in frustration. Indisguinshable from the screaming for not being understood.


tigermoth · 08/04/2003 13:46

Monkey, it must be really annoying to see your son picking up this screaming behaviour. It must also be really hard to witness your friend use different tactics of control - or none at all. And at the centre of all this is a not quite 2 year old. Now if he was five, say, I think you could tackle this head on, explain the house rules to your friend and say your children's friends have to abide by them, too, otherwise it undoes all your work.

But this little boy is barely past babyhood. So many forms of disciplne won't work yet. He must get tired and scratchy easily, too. Perhaps he is just not good in company yet. IME little children might seem happy with lots of other faces around, but get overwhelmed very quickly and tantrum easiliy. If it's her first child, his mother is still feeling her way. You are annoyed about her failure to act, but she is having to learn to read her son.

I'm not saying be more tolerant - don't be! If you honestly feel you've had enough, it's no good pretending otherwise. Personally I think if you try and change the mother's attitude, you'll be in for a long and futile struggle and may lose her friendship in the process. So if she and her son get to you, just don't see them together. Find ways of avoiding big meetings. But make a point of seeing her alone, so she knows you still want to be friends. Don't make her son's screaming an issue at all. If you feel brave and you think she would accept it, say that things get on your nerves when the children meet up en masse - you find the noise and attention demanding difficult to cope with, when what you really want to do is spend time catching up with her. You are not openly critising her or her son, just stating your veiw of things.

Her son is so young that he's bound to change (for better or worse) so in a few months you could suggest a meeting, but keep it short, see how things go, keep testing the waters every now and again, and you may find that by the time he son is three and speaking that he plays much more indepenently, without the screaming.


miggy · 08/04/2003 14:21

I think this whole issue can be a diplomatic nightmare between parents! We meet once a week with a friend who has a daughter same age as DD (4), they go to the same nursery. This child treats her mother like dirt, including wetting and soiling knickers at least 4 times in a 2 hr visit. There is no problem- she doesnt do it at nursery in a whole day session. Her mother doesnt even raise her voice, just gets clean clothes, I'm itching to tell her off! We are going to have to stay away for a while as my dd is now saying she doesnt want to be her friend because she wets her pants and I would die of embarrasement if she said that at their house (by the way, I havent said anything to Dd but she has eagle eyes!). The thing is the mother says constantly "oh its really getting me down etc" but what should you do, tell her to do something? She was recently taken aside by a teacher at her sons school and told that if she didnt do something about his behaviour now he would be a nightmare later, and she was outraged. personally I agree with the teacher but wouldnt dare say! Shes lovely, just too nice and her children and dh walk all over her, would love to help but difficult isnt it.


Rhubarb · 08/04/2003 15:11

Sorry Monkey but I think your friendship may well suffer because of this. Your friend is no doubt very protective of her ds, probably even more so if he is her only. As with all mothers, if she gets criticism she will take it personally and I don't think it will work. Her ds is not going to change, and nothing you do will solve that. So I'm afraid you either put up or go your own ways.
The advice on here is great, and I would do it if I wasn't too bothered about having that person as a real friend. But it would be impossible to remain her friend if her ds pisses you off as much as he does. She will either get all defensive and call it a day with you, or you will have had enough. I just don't think, from reading your posts, that she is the kind of woman who takes criticism kindly. I'm sure lots of people have commented on her kids behaviour, but so far it doesn't seem to have made much of an impact. All you can hope for is that he gets better when he starts nursery/school and then you can resume your friendship. It'd be awful if you had a real falling out over her ds. For some mothers, that would be an inforgivable sin.

Hope you don't take that wrong. I think you are totally in the right. It's just that I've come across mothers like this before, and I've seen good friendships fall apart because of parenting styles. It just sucks.


Meanmum · 08/04/2003 15:28

I seem to have similar ideas to most of the mums who have responded to this. I am very lenient with my ds but there are certain things I won't tolerate and those rules apply in my house no matter who is here. I work the same when I go to friends. 2 very close friends have kids the same age as my ds and they have different rules in their house which I make my ds abide by when we are there even though we don't have them at home ourselves. I've explained to my friends that I am happy for them to discipline my child when we are together and whether that is in their house or my house. By discipline I mean if my child is doing something he is not allowed at their house then they are to tell him not to and he must suffer the same outcome as their own child. Therefore, if their child gets sent to their room for having a tantrum and mine does it at their house then he is also sent to the room.

My only suggestion is to explain to your friend (I did it in casual conversation with my friends) that house rules apply to everyone in the house whether they belong there or not. Give an example of the screaming fit and tell her how you deal with it with your child. If you think she needs a bit of bluntness then tell her it will happen to her child too at your house. If she gets the message then leave it at that.

It can be hard for parents to accept someone else disciplining their children (for want of a better word) but if it works both ways then there shouldn't be any issues. Therefore, she can discipline yours at her house.

Once this has happened a few times at your house you will find she will probably start copying you and becoming firmer but also allow you to do it more readily so if you are ever out and it is neutral ground you may find a stern word from you will calm her kid down and she won't mind.

It can be hard to broach subjects like this but once done you will feel better. Lots of positive comments around this sort of message will certainly soften the blow and make her realise that you think she is a fantastic friend and don't want to lose that.


monkey · 08/04/2003 15:53

thanks again some really good suggestions.

One problem is her son is only a couple of months younger than my ds2, so basically they're the same age. Another friend, whose son also started copying the screaming took the tack that he was only a baby, and that's why he screams. But a this is insulting - he might act like it, but he isn't a baby - if someone referred to my ds2 as a baby i would be annoyed. Also, as he's physically bigger than my ds2, and the same age (more or less) i can't really use this argument. Plus it is a bit too sophisticated for my ds.

Unfortunately, as the kids don't start school till 7, i've got another 5 years to wait to get him out of the way! I liked your suggestions Tigermoth -I'd LOVE to meet her without kids! But she is with him all the time - he doesn't go to any playgroup or anything, and isn't due to for a long time. I've tried suggesting nights out, we have been out a couple of times but that's it in the last 6 months.

I agree that she will take it very personally and get defensive, so I suppose I'm stuck with putting up with it (but I am so transparent - she has laughed and pointed out times I looked really pissed off about something - I have no poker face) or ditching her, but like I said, she's such a great mate, I'd be sorry to loose her. I did lend her a book, I think what to expect the toddler years & at least a couple of times she has told him to wait while she was speaking, but then he had a massive tantrum and got her full attention!

I've got plenty of space at my place to put him - ha the bomb shelter with 1 foot thick metal door is very tempting - but I suppose I've have to ask her before hand! Maybe I could just say - do you fancy trying this? Like I said, she just isn't consistent she'll mutter to him not to scream threaten him with his room but then just not do it.

I'm glad to find out at least I'm not the only one I thought I was just being a ott cow.

OP posts:

ks · 08/04/2003 16:12

This reply has been deleted

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Dahlia · 08/04/2003 16:19

Monkey, I sympathise as I have a friend with a hideous child. Its not quite the same as your situation as she isn't a really close friend, but all the same its a very tricky situation, I have taken the coward's way out and just don't see much of her. Her dd just about has a head that spins 360 degrees round and then spews green vomit in your face. I hate and loathe her but my dd likes her and so I have just reduced visits to very occasional. Her dd never ever answers when you speak to her, has paddies over absolutely nothing, is so rude to both her parents its embarrassing (she punches them too!) etc etc. Can't stand the little git. I think in your case you have to decide how much you value the friendship. Is is that great that you're willing to put up with all the hassle? Whereabouts do you live anyway? You could always meet up with some of the wonderful and perfect mothers on mumsnet! Oh and Custardo, you're a star!!


Meanmum · 08/04/2003 16:23

My mum told me before I had my ds that friendships change once you have children and that old friendships sometimes fade due to the way each party raises their child.

I pretty much worship my mum and the advice she gives as throughout my life she has failed to be wrong even once. I know it sounds like she is on a pedestal but she isn't, however, I have never argued with her in my 34 years and as I said she has never failed to be wrong in any advice she has given me.

Anyway, back to the point. I'm sure she was saying it so I would be aware that it may happen. Luckily for me it hasn't and all of my friends with kids both here in the UK and at home in Oz are accepting of each other and how we wish to raise our children. We may disagree with something and we can generally talk about it, however, we respect each others views and rights.

Maybe this is just one relationship that will slide by. Unfortunate as that may be remember there could be something better just around the corner.

In my job we have to tackle problems head on before they escalate and even though it seems to be human nature to avoid conflict it really does help. Can you not indicate you were reading a website (don't tell her which one as she may realise it's you) and this story came up and how interesting you found it and how you thought you would deal with a situation like that. One of those lines like "I have a friend....." when really it is you yourself.

I'm really not offering any decent advice now so will sign off. Good luck and let me know how it goes.


tigermoth · 08/04/2003 16:56

monkey, what a pity your friend can't see you on her own much - I suppose if you can manage the odd night out, that's something. Alternatively could you arrange to meet her at a leisure centre or shopping centre (ie anywhere that has a creche - book up in advance) for some quality adult time, while your children are looked after for an hour or two?

Also, it you don't want to say goodbye to her, could you make the meeting-with-children dates briefer? If you only meet for an hour or less there is less chance, hopefully, for tantrums to develop and tempers (yours and the 2 year olds) to get frayed.

I think it's worth hanging on in there if you really like this person. Children change so much when they are that young - he might be a lot better once he's talking. /And if he gets even more OTT, your friend might rethink her laid back approach and be firmer with him.

Good luck, anyway.


Jimjams · 08/04/2003 18:34

Don't feel too sad ks- tbh I have very few friends that I see with only "normal" children now. Actually few is an understatement-I have one- everyone else has an autistic child. Plenty of "normal" friends I talk to on the phone. And my ds's behavour isn't bad (he ignores other children) just odd. Actually a friend visited today with her autistic daghter. Her dd has a lot of problems with other children- she really can't handle them, and as she was screaming about something (which her Mum ignored) her Mum looked at me and said "this is why we can't see normal people any more". Not saying you should have hung in there or anything, tbh its stressfull for me to be around people who can't cope with ds. I think it's just one of those things. I suppose at the end of the day we all gravitate towards people we have things in common with.

If a child has quite severe develomental dyspraxia they tend to also be delayed with language, and be quite rigid and can have various odd problems like sequencing. So if you're not used to it the behaviour can be difficult, and has to be dealt with in a certain way (which isn't to say give in all the time- I'm pretty strict with my autistic son as otherwise we can end up with anarchy- but I know what I'm strict (eg bedtime) about and I let certain things go (eg sitting down at tea time) because they're not important to us in the great scheme of things). I'm lucky in that my ds doesn't have behavioural problems but obviously lots of people do. I do feel sorry for my friend I saw today as her dd beahviour makes it ery difficult for her to go anywhere social with her, but there really isn't anything she can do.

I think for me I don't really get annoyed with a child's behaviour as such (unless they're continually beating my kids up!), but I get really p*** off when parents don't do anything about it!


robinw · 08/04/2003 18:48

message withdrawn


susanmt · 10/04/2003 00:51

Meanmum I think your Mum was totally spot on about friendships changing due to parenting styles. I REALLLY don't want to start a fight, but I have real trouble with someone who was an incredibly close frind, but chose not only to raise her child using the Gina Ford routines, but to shove it down my throat at every given opportunity, even knowing that it was an attempt to do this that put me in hospital with PND. Needless to say we don't see alot of each other any more. She was a great frind as long as we were childless, one of the closest I had. And she was supportive when I was in hospital (about a year before her ds was born). But since then there is no reasoning with her and I have pretty much given up. Sometimes you have to just say enough is enough, when it is doing you more harm than good. Maybe when they are both at school things will relax a bit and allow us to re-develop our old closeness, but I secretly think it has been lost forever.

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