D.P. asks from Sacramento, CA on August 16, 2009
Children in Adult Conversations
I have a friend that I enjoy hanging out with, but the problem is she allows her daughter, who is going in 7th grade, join in and inteject in adult conversation. When I growing up we were always told to go in the other room while the adults visited and had adult conversations. This little girl is there for everything and shares her mother's "grownup" opinions on everything. If the mother is bad moughting another adult the child is doing the same thing. I don't think kids should have the opportunity to badmouth adults, I think they should be respectful. I have made little comments to the daughter that I was not speaking to her and this is an adult conversation, but the mother says nothing, anyone have an ideas how to approach this. As I said I like the mom and would hate to sever the relationship, but the kids joining in is getting a little too much for me to handle.
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So What Happened?™
Thanks for the advice, for clarifation the person I am talking about is not a close friend or even someone I confide in. (I know better because the other ears hear everything) she is a very close friend of a friend andI do like her and when we are all together we do have fun, but I do enjoy it more when it is a girls night or adult only situtation. I am going to spea to her alone, but I don't know if it will so anything the father is the same way with the child.
W.M. answers from Sacramento on August 16, 2009
I could see the daughter having an opinion if the subject was one of her teachers, but other than that, no, I don't think she should be in on the conversation.
I was not allowed to do so, and most of the time my kids won't be in the room when I am talking to someone else.
They usually pass thru, but don't ask questions. Just remember what goes around comes around...bad mouthing someone may not be in anyones best interest.
J.B. answers from San Francisco on August 17, 2009
Okay I am going to be honest here. You may get mad, but it sounds like you are feeling guilty because you want to gossip about people and you don't feel comfortable doing it in front of a child. My 13 year old niece is involved in our conversations-she is the oldest neice/nephew, but will usually get bored because we are talking about something political like the president wanting universal heath care and then she walks away. I think it is a great thing when she she wants to be involved in these conversations. I don't want to put myself on a pedestal, I know I am guilty of gossip, but try to keep it at bay.
As someone said though-you should let your friend know. If she is a good friend she will do something about it or she will let you know why she does it. Just let her know you would like just one on one time with her and only her. Hope things work out for you and your friend.
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M.S. answers from San Francisco on August 16, 2009
I would let your friend know that while you enjoy having conversations with her, you don't feel comfortable with her daughter being present in the conversation. Be honest. If she is a good, true friend she will know that it is coming from your heart and not malice for her daughter. Good luck to you!
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J.L. answers from San Francisco on August 17, 2009
Just be up front and honest with your friend about how you feel. I don't think she'll be offended. Explain that you don't feel comfortable sharing thoughts about adult issues with her daughter. If she doesn't understand, then just don't talk to her about anything personal. It doesn't mean you need to sever the friendship.
P.W. answers from San Francisco on August 18, 2009
Why do you care how someone else parents their child? Not to be too blunt but, even if you are correct it's kind of none of your business.
And I gotta add -- you don't have to say ANYTHING to your friend -- if there's something you don't want her daughter to hear then don't say it when the daughter is present. If there is something I don't want a child to hear then I just (playfully) tell them to go away while I tell their mother something.
L.N. answers from San Francisco on August 17, 2009
Two suggested approaches to this.
1) It's possible that the mom also has trouble with this but doesn't exactly know how to change the dynamic. Try and avoid the temptation to say what the daughter should do. Instead, talk about the impact it has on you (makes you feel uncomfortable, daughter is privy to conversations she shouldn't be, etc.), and let the mom decide how to handle it.
2) If things don't change, say that you'd like to continue to talk but can't do it when her daughter's around because it's still making you uncomfortable. Do things like talk on the phone instead in the evening, go out, etc. You'll probably end up communicating less but you'll have made your point, you'll be communicating on your terms, and you won't have severed the friendship. Perhaps making this very apparent will be what it takes. Good luck!
C.T. answers from Sacramento on August 17, 2009
It is difficult at best to address how someone parents their child.
I would encourage you to ask her to meet with you when her daughter is at school and your children are also involved with something.
I would say that you have things that you are not comfortable sharing in front of young ears.
Also, I would not encourage badmouthing in anyone and change the subject ...
which is good modeling for all. Young people learn to gossip and be un kind very easily.
They need positive, intelligent conversations to eaves drop on from the other room too!
S.B. answers from Redding on August 17, 2009
Dear D P,
There is nothing wrong with children being able to converse with adults, that is a necessary skill. I enjoy conversing with kids...how they feel about what's going on in the world, what they want to be when they grow up, etc.
But, the key phrase is "adult conversation". And I agree, kids do not need to be privvy to certain things.
I have a friend who allowed her daughter to listen in and be involved in things she never should have been allowed to. As a result, she repeated everything she heard and became "adultified", meaning she became bossy, even to adults, decided she didn't need to ask permission for things and took it upon herself to make decisions about things (when people could and couldn't get in the pool, when people could and couldn't eat from the snack trays her mother put out for everyone). It drove her mother crazy.
If we were discussing an "adult" topic and Little Miss got in the middle of it, I would just say, "I think we should talk about this later." One time her mom said, "Oh...it's okay, she already knows all about it" and I said, "That's my point. I really think we should talk about this later." I had told her I thought there was way too much being said in front of her daughter.
We were on the phone one day and I was confiding some things to her that my ex was doing, dragging me to court for more custody to get out of paying child support and all the sudden, in the background, I heard her daughter chiming in about what she thought I should do. SHE HAD PUT ME ON SPEAKER PHONE!
I said, "Damn it! My personal business is NONE of your daughter's business! You take me off speaker phone right now or I'm hanging up!" I said, "Don't you ever do that to me again. You know I am so careful for my son never to hear me say anything about any of this stuff and I don't want your daughter hearing it either. If I can't talk to you about certain things in confidence, then I just can't talk to you about them at all. You wonder why your daughter acts like such a know-it-all and has to be right in the middle of everything, it's because you've let her. That's your business. Do what you want. But, when it comes to me or my kids or my business, it's all off limits to her. Those are my boundaries. Period."
I was mad and I just said exactly what I felt. She apologized and said she didn't even think about it because she was doing something and it was easier to have me on speaker phone. I said if she's too busy or something, just to say so because we could always talk about it another time. Granted, I've known this woman for years and I didn't think the friendship would end if I was frank with her about it. It didn't end. In fact the light went on about her involving her daughter too much in things. Then she had the up-hill battle of changing the dynamic so that her daughter wasn't right in the middle of everything and her daughter assuming there were secrets being kept from her.
I was raised that certain things were just off limits to kids. Details of other's messy divorces, how much money so and so makes or how much their house cost and what interest rates they're paying, whose unemployment is running out, whose husband is sleeping on the couch, whose mother in law is driving somebody crazy...
I don't know if it's gossip. When someone tells me something in confidence of a personal nature, I keep it that way. Mamas on here ask for advice everyday and keep confidences. At least I think they do. My son's 14....I don't let him read any of this stuff.
I didn't mean to get so long-winded, but you can try mentioning to your friend that you aren't comfortable discussing adult things when her daughter is present. If that doesn't work, then just change the subject or say, "I'd rather not talk with you about this." If that doesn't work you can always say you think it's time for you to go and maybe just the two of you can meet to talk over coffee sometime.
You can't really do anything about what she involves her daughter in, but you can do something about being involved in it yourself.
I hope you get it worked out.
H.D. answers from San Francisco on August 16, 2009
I think I would wait until there was an opportunity to talk to her alone and I would tell her that you are are uncomfortable with her daughter being treated like an adult, when she clearly is not. If your friend is not willing to comply, talk about taxes, the pain of menopause, any subject that will make the 7th grader's eyes glaze over. If that doesn't work then be willing to talk about subjects you aren't uncomfortable talking about in front of a child. Worst case scenario you might have to end the relationship.
Unfortunately I agree with you, too many parents today treat their over 10 (yes, I have seen it this young!) year old children like they are adults! When I was a child there were two things we knew at an early age...you are seen, not heard and if you only are a part of a conversation when invited to be!