March 13, 2010,
L.T. asks from Houston, TX on March 03, 2010
When You Don't like Your Friends Kids....
Hi! I'm curious how others deal with this. I have a couple of friends who are good friends of mine but generally I cannot stand to be around their children! Because of the community we live in there are many opportunities for our familiies to socialize together (i.e. mutal friends, sports activities, etc.) so I cannot avoid them all together. That and some of their kids are the same ages as mine so there are even more opportunities to get together. For the few I am thinking of their kids are just mean...mean to other kids and mine--bratty and ill-behaved towards other kids and many times adults. A few of my friends I have known for several years and I just don't see regular discipline or boundary settiing the behavior continues. I think some of them just have no idea how nasty their kids are sometimes. My kids generally try to avoid them in social settings but how do you all deal with this situation...especially when it is unavoidable many times? It can sometimes make what should be a pleasant get together unenjoyable by the end of it. Thanks for your help!
So What Happened?™
Thanks all for your terrific responses-they have helped a lot if nothing else to let me know I am not alone! For those of you that asked....yes, there are times when of course we can choose just not to socialize with them. But the main issues come when we are at neighborhood/local activities where we have no choice to be with them--like they have been placed on the same sports team, extra curricular group, etc. because of their ages. I like the idea of using them as an example to teach my children how NOT to behave. The problem is these kids are just so disruptive and annoying to so many yet the parents are often oblivious to just how much of a disruption their kids are. Through this discussion I have figured out that many of these friends are just very passive parents. Thankfully for some, I do feel comfortable (as does my husband) in disciplining their children especially when their behavior is directed at my own kids. I have never had any of my friends tell me they wished I hadn't done that--sometimes they even thank me because they didn't realize what thier kids were doing. But it does become difficult sometimes when the friends invite you over and over to do stuff with them and I have to come up with excuses as to why not. That is a difficult conversation to have but it sounds like it may be one worth having. Thanks again!
J.T. answers from College Station on March 04, 2010
Are they close friends? If they are, you can say something. You should say something anyway. Just the way you go about it is different. We all try to avoid confrontation but this could be a safety issue.
R.G. answers from Kalamazoo on March 03, 2010
I have a few friends that have children with HORRIBLE attitudes. I have learned one thing, there are no bad children, just bad parents. I too live in a community where I'm almost forced to deal with the children of other parents. I've been blessed with a very laid back, caring, and loving child. Naturally, he's immediate prey for the older, meaner kids. The approach I take is to keep a close eye on my child and his behavior. When another child acts inappropriately in front of my son, I talk to him about it when we get home and let him know that the behavior he witnessed is unacceptable in our family, and he understands and replies with "yah, because if you throw sand, it might hurt someone in the eye and we don't want to hurt people". Kids are so insightful if given the opportunity to express themselves. In the case that another child acts inappropriately TOWARD my child, I'm quick to snatch them up and deliver them to their parent with a full report on his/her activity and a CLEAR AND CONCISE statement that I will NOT tolerate another child mistreating mine. It's hard to be the mom that stands up and says "HEY! This is not right!" in a social setting. Everyone looks at you like you're just too overprotective, but in the end, the other parents will learn that you WILL NOT tolerate their children acting like brats toward yours. This has worked out well for me, as the other parents have started coming to me for advice in seeing that "hey, my kid isn't perfect and maybe there's something I can do to make it better". My child isn't perfect either, but I sincerely believe that if you have a mean or hateful child, it's YOUR fault. The good thing is that they're still children and most mistakes can be repaired. Hope this helps!
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L.N. answers from New York on March 03, 2010
i don't know how else to say this: but you should be concentrating on your kids during these activities. if the other kids are so horrible why do you part-take in these situations? just remove yourself. if a child is being so so spoiled, move a few steps backwards or to the side, or start a conversation with someone feet away from this 'spoiled' child. now you may call a child spoiled, but maybe someone looks at your kids and thinks how boring they are. that would be equally bad.
i could never call a child horrible. i can't call any parent a bad parent as i know most parents do their best. their best may not be my best but who is to say which is the best way.
my kids have huge personalities, but in your book that may constitute as being spoiled.
that said, i really don't like being around children except my own. but i suck it up, so that my kids can have a social life.
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G.B. answers from Tulsa on March 03, 2010
I don't really know how it happens in your group but in mine and my friends if we see something going on we take care of it. If I catch the kids doing something wrong I put them in time out or send them to their mom and I tell her what was going on. I expect the same from my friends. One friend in particular is vary laid back and she has kids that tend to whatever they want. I am constantly sitting them down and so is everyone else. She gets on mine if she sees them doing something too. It doesn't happen often and is usually something big, like hitting or calling bad names. We have about 6 moms all together that meet for play dates and social activities.
I am one of those to sit around visiting with my friends and holler over to a kid and say things like "K, the sand goes on the ground", "F, feet go on the ground not on your friend", "A, please keep your hands to your self and not on J's head", I don't run around constantly telling them what to do, I just keep a VERY close eye on the kids. Often when visiting and seeing something going on I'll say to the parent of the offensive child "hey, A is hitting F really hard, want me to go and out him in timeout so you don't have to get up?". I think that's a good way of letting them know your not going to allow the kids behavior and you get their permission first.
I think my attitude comes from all those years in Child Care and previously owning a Center with over 50 kids enrolled full time. Watching 50+ kids on the playground every day is a learned skill...lol.
The saying "it takes a village" doesn't mean the village sits by and lets the kids do whatever they want. It means that the village looks out for the welfare of all the children within it's boundaries.
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L.G. answers from Austin on March 04, 2010
Obviously you can avoid them most of the time, but when you have to be around them, do something unexpected. What worked for me was to be especially friendly and nice to those kids. I would compliment him on his game, the girl's outfit or hair, or ask about something they were just involved in or a trip they took, etc. Some kids are just needy. By loving on them, my heart softened to their pain. Hurt people hurt people. So if they are being mean, it is because they are hurting in some way. It's amazing how they will respond to you and your kids.
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R.W. answers from San Francisco on March 03, 2010
Maybe tell your friends you really want to have your get-togethers be "adult time", when you can all have a break from parenting.
K.F. answers from College Station on March 13, 2010
I feel for you. I have the same problem with 2 of my friends. For a long time I just dealt with it and let the stress build. But I do agree with you, there comes a time when enough is enough. One of my friends "Jane" her 3 year old would come to my house and would have my completely clean playroom upturned on every shelf, toybox and anything else within the first 5 minutes of being there. And on top of that she would not help me clean it up. So, me being the sneaky devil that I am, had a talk with my then 4 year old who was upset about being the one who had to clean it up. When they would come over he would immediately come out and tell us ("Joe") is tearing up the playroom and I don't want to clean it up by myself again!!
That is how I dealt with that friend. The other one was harder. "Sara" had older kids that were my kids ages. They were violent, they cussed like sailors, and were terrible influences. I was better friends with her than the other gal so I sat her down and talked with her. I said look, I do not want this to mess up our friendship but my kids are not allowed to do these things and that there are set rules in our house. If those rules are broken said child will have to go home. I also used her children as a learning experience for my kids. When one of her kids had an angry outburst and was cussing and hitting I would take the extra 5 minutes and take my kids aside and say look, you see how he/she is handling that situation? How would you have handled it better? My kids always came up with better ways to handle the situations. So my kids learned alot from my friends children. Sometimes kids do need a "bad" role model to learn from if the parent is willing to take aside a few minutes for a moral lesson.
Well, just so you know what happened......my oldest now 13 went to my friend and told her that he was sorry but he didn't feel that her son was a good role model and until he showed some improvement that he wasn't going to be hanging out with him anymore. And this was his best friend. Kids do listen when they are talked to. Now they didn't speak for over 3 months. My friends son has shown drastic changes to his anger coping skills and my son has agreed to start hanging out with them. Sometimes you have to put it in the kids hands and trust that you have done a good job and that they will do the right thing.
Wow, that got long and rambly, but I hope someone got some help from it.
C.L. answers from Detroit on March 03, 2010
I have the same problem, my bestfriend for many years has 3 boys and i have 2 girls. When we have went to visit in the past i say the past because we no longer go to their home. The boys are so mean and nasty. They want to beat up on my baby daughter it's just awful. They cant control the boys at all. I choose not to put my girls through that. Its really sad that kids can control your whole life. Its like who is the parent here??? If my girls acted like that there would be hell to pay. I no kids arent perfect but in the end the parents are the one's at fault.
K.Z. answers from Houston on March 04, 2010
I understand. Sometimes kids are cruel. I have told my kids you are going to deal with all kinds of people in you life, start practicing now. I also gave them words & actions they can use in different situations.
When my son was in early teens there were a couple of brothers who I flat out said "sorry until you show me you have changed your ways, and I am a tough sell, you may not be with my sons." This was after they egged a front door of a neighbor, my son was with them. I made my son go clean it up and apologize. The other parent did nothing. My son really didn't want to do anything with them as they let him take the fall. They eventually moved.
On the flip side, the same son has aspergers and when he started to finally try to join in with other kids, he could become mean. I usually was outside or nearby to intervene if necessary. I am also Blessed with very understanding, compassionate friends and neighbors that also watched out. We have no problem disciplining or sending a child home for "bad behavior". He is 17 now still does not have many friends, but socializes well.
Be compassionate, but definitely stand you ground.