Children in Adult Conversations

Updated on August 18, 2009
D.P. asks from Sacramento, CA
16 answers

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.

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answers from Sacramento on

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.
W. M.

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answers from San Francisco on

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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answers from San Francisco on


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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answers from San Francisco on

You've gotten some good advice here already. I agree that you should stick w/telling yoru friend how you feel about her daughter being in the converstaion. Say something along the lines of it making you uncomfortable w/her daughter being part of what you consider to be a private conversation between freinds or that you tell her things in confidence that you are uncomfortable w/her daughter hearing or knowing about. If that fails, then arrange visits w/her when the dauhgter isn't home or arrange for the 2 of you to go our in the evenings for dinner or drinks when the daughter should be at home doing homework or in bed already.



answers from Bakersfield on

Hi there DP,
Well, here's the bottom line as I see it. Her child's talking does not stop with your conversation. She carries it with her to her friends and repeats it, sure as you know it. And when she does, your name will come up for sure. So unless you wouldn't mind your name being linked to a conversation you had in private with her mother, here's what I would do. Tell her mother you really feel her child being in on your adult conversations seems very inappropriate to you, since both she and you could end up in the hot seat when her child repeats it to the wrong person. Explain to her that it is not good for a young child to hear the types of conversations adults have because they are very impressionable and it could be harmful to them in their relationships as well. If those things don't work, it sounds like it's time to keep the conversations to a minimum....for your own reputation's sake. And one other thing. If your friend's conversations seem to consist mostly of bashing other people, then that might not be a healthy friendship to have in the first place. You have to wonder what she's saying about you to her other friends as well. Yikes!



answers from Sacramento on

I totally understand where you are coming from and it's unfortunate that you and your friend do not come from the same viewpoint of where the children should fit in. It's not a 'right or wrong', it's just a difference in opinion. Personally, I would be irritated too. There are some conversations which are great to include kids in, and some that are not (not gossip...simply adult). You seem to have handled it very well as far as making it clear to her with your statements. And the mother seems to not agree with you, as there seems to be no change or respect for your comments from either the mom or the girl.

Maybe you get the kids involved in something else so that they are too busy doing their kid-thing (playing outside, Wii, art project, etc.). Now that school is starting, maybe you can visit during school hours. If none of those things work, maybe some conversations will be best left to the phone (I know, not ideal). I know everyone is busy and the kids always seem to be with the Moms, but another option is to plan for just you and your friend to go out for coffee or a meal together. I do this once every few months and it's great for my friendships! Good luck!



answers from San Francisco on

D P,

So far I think Molly has given the best solution. However, I do have a comment, which isn’t meant to hurt your feeling, but perhaps, provide some insight.

Your friend may be a little bored with your conversation and has asked her daughter to remain in the room and interject a thought or two. The reason I say this is I have a friend, I know she considers me her best friend, because she has very few friends. I don’t consider her my best friend and I’m not close enough to tell he the reason she has so few friends is because she talks almost non-stop and when it’s someone else’s turn to speak, she almost, always has to jump in with her own thoughts and opinions.

If you’re not close enough to your friend to tell her how you feel and her kid is really bugging you…it may be time to move on to another confidant.




answers from Modesto on

Hi D P,

My "2 cents" would be to appreciate and value what you've received from this friend/aquaintance. Maybe she's been the perfect friend for ONE situation and was able to help you through it like nobody else could.....then you had a bond...

As an active mom, I've learned this over the years.....I have met some GREAT women....some are friends for an entire year, some are friends for a moment, some have been friends for 8 years! Some are good wine drinkers, carpoolers, organizers, and I could on and on.... :O)

My point is, I wouldn't trade ANY of my wonderful times with these friends, whether they were long or short-lived. We related to eachother on some important child-related issue and I felt more confident after having that friend, that I was doing the right thing... whatever it was about :O)

Just be nice to your friend until.....well, until it might be time to not call as much. It doesn't matter what anybody else thinks, because YOU DON'T WANT to be around a 7th grade girl who badmouths adults, and you most certainly do not want YOUR DAUGHTER to ever pick up her examples!

Sometimes, "season's change" and maybe it's time to gently move on. Is it really worth ending badly by bringing up the issue's? OR.... maybe it is worth a discussion to tell her how you feel so your friendship can try to last forever.... after this issue, of course :O)

Good Luck, D P

~N. :O)



answers from San Francisco on

I really don't have any advice on how to handle that situation, but I do agree 100% with you! I know that my 8 year old is starting to want to be a part of our adult conversations so I try to direct an appropriate topic that she can take part of and pactice her social skills. BUT there are definatly times that it is not appropriate so I simply say, "This is grownup talk" and send her to play.

Maybe you can give the seventh grader a easy "job" that will keep her busy while you visit with other parents. For instance, she could leed the younger children in a simple craft, put on a play, read to them, simple kitchen projects like make lemonade. I don't know, tap into their interts. Leeding an activity that is directed by her, might make her feel grown up!



answers from Redding on

Dear D P,
There is nothing wrong with children being able to converse with adults, that is a necessary skill. I enjoy conversing with 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, "'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.



answers from Sacramento on

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!



answers from San Francisco on

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!



answers from San Francisco on

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.



answers from San Francisco on

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 are seen, not heard and if you only are a part of a conversation when invited to be!
Good luck.



answers from San Francisco on

Greetings D P : A question for you to think about:
Is the parent treating the child as a friend/buddy relationship or as a parent/child relationshihp? The differance is that the buddy systems lets the 60's attitude of not keeping children seperate but front and center.
Being a child advocate I have seen so many "adult children" who are exposed to things they as children don't need to be apart of let alone commenting on. This is sad in the fact that a child should not be the parents "buddy or friend as a child".
As my husband became more ill with his cancer I would take all of my childrens concerns and questions with me to get their answers from our doctors. I only would take them when he did chemo treatments because they made friends with other patients and would bring hard candy to share, sing, read and just visit or sit quietly by someone that was alone. That is different than joing into a conversation.
I have a son with Aspberger's Syndrome and he knows when to be aprt of a conversation and when not to.
So my suggestion is to say something to your friend and let her know that it is not acceptable to talk about adult things or private things with a child in the room any more. Don't be surprized by the reaction that yu are going to get.
Nana G



answers from San Francisco on

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.

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