Friendship Not Reciprocated

Updated on November 22, 2011
L.W. asks from Austin, TX
18 answers

How should I sensitively redirect my 7 year old's interest in a friend? For two years, my daughter has been in class with a little girl she adores. We hosted the friend for a playdate once, and a few months later, the girls' mother told me that her daughter is no longer allowed on re playdates without her parents. (Our home is safe, child-friendly, loving, secure. No clue why we were blacklisted after one 2-hour playtime.) My additional efforts to cultivate the girls' friendship were not returned. I'm moving on, but my sweet daughter is still pining for (non-school) time with this friend. What words would you use with your child when she asks to' play with this so-called 'friend?'

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So What Happened?

I am touched by all of your thoughtful answers. You've affirmed my approach -- mainly, to move on and be positive with her about other friendships. She has lots of nice friends, no shortage of companionship. I like the "school friend" and "home friend" distinction, I hadn't thought of that.

If anything else transpires, I'll share "what happened." Thanks Mamapedia community.

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answers from Washington DC on

I would tell her that some friends are school-only friends and some friends also come to the house. Her parents don't want her to go visiting so she is a school-only friend. Who else would she like to have over to the house?

6 moms found this helpful


answers from Houston on

Have you ever invited Mom along? You might want to get to know her - would be an opportunity to find out why the rule.

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answers from Minneapolis on

Had this happen to us. Don't bring it up at all. If she's not in a situation where she can easily meet new friends, it's time to start getting involved in a community education program, ballet, or head to the library for book club, or join an American Girls doll club in your area. Whatever you think she'll enjoy and will meet other girls with similar interests.

Trust me, she'll recover very quickly once she has a new friend.

6 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on


This is the hard part of parenting.

If you have not been able to get information from the mother - what the child said about the play date - then really? The truth is the best answer.

I'm sorry Jane - Joan doesn't want to be friends. That happens in life sometimes and it will be Joan's loss for not wanting to be your friend.

She's 7, not 3. She understands this talk. The other mother should be able to tell you what was wrong for the play date or if the mother can come. I really wouldn't expend too much effort on this person though...your daughter is wanting something she can't have. At 7, they are in school together, I will assume, and she is nice to her in school??? It sounds like we are only getting half the story - but either way? Tell your daughter that Joan doesn't want to be friends. Period. She is 7. It will hurt, but she will understand eventually.

Get her involved in other activities..this will help cultivate new friends as well.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

This is has happened with us too. The boy my older son likes the most in school the mom won't even return our phone calls, let alone plan playdates. I just told my son that for some reason his mom doesn't want him to have a playdate. I don't speculate as to why. The boy is nice to my son in school, so I don't think it's him.

People have funny reasons for not doing playdates. My younger son there is a boy in his class that adores my son. He chronically asks for playdates. We did one, and after that the mother would not schedule another. She won't even talk to me, she's really curt. Come to find out (through another mom) that the first mom will only do playdates which Christian families. We are not Christian, so we have been blacklisted, much to the dismay of her own son. I remember when I went to pick my son up from that one and only playdate, the conversation with the mom had turned to advice on where to go to church in our town. Sneaky way to fetter out if I was Christian. :sigh:

I don't let it bother me anymore. Yeah, the kids are disappointed, but they can always meet other children.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from San Diego on

Oh this is sad.

Talk again to the other mom. Find out what the problem was with the play date that got you "black listed". If she doesn't want to tell you. That's fine.

Since your daughter is in the 2nd grade - she should understand a heartfelt talk from mom. That the girl doesn't want to be friends.

Get her involved in Tae Kwon Do, Ballet or some other activity that she will enjoy and get her with a new group of people to expand her horizons.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Boca Raton on

This is tough . . . I don't have girls but I've seen it happen with boys too.

Our philosophy with our sons is to always deal from a position of "strength" and to never look to other people for happiness. True happiness comes from within. Seek out things you really love to do, develop excellence in them, and people will gravitate to you. And if they don't - oh well, at least you're still doing something you love!

We also teach them that friendship is a 2-way street, and if one person isn't happy with it on a consistent basis, or interested, then it's not a true friendship. Of course there are times when people are going through stuff, too, and are not as available to be friends for whatever reason. We try to teach them to be compassionate and understanding whenever possible, and to not take it personally.

Good luck.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Spartanburg on

Since you don't know the real reason, why telling your daughter that the girl does not WANT to be her friend? That's just mean and not necessary. Just tell her that with kids parents decide wether or not they are available for playdates (which is the thruth) and so there's really nothing you can do at this point and it's better to move on to better things (I would give her an immediate alternative). It is NOT sensitive to tell her that the girl just choses to not be her friends.

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answers from Phoenix on

This happened with us too. Our son who is in first grade now, had a real good friend in preschool when he was 3 years old. His mom and I get along, and we had a few playdates, but after we had our second son, they just kind of disappeared. I see her on facebook, but she doesn't reciprocate the friendship between us, that I thought we had, and it's been over two years since I have tried to make playdates with her so that my son can play with his friend, and no response. Nothing. Zilch. He still asks about him and wonders why he hasn't seen him. I tell him that I have tried, but it seems like they are real busy and I tell him that I am sorry that he doesn't get to see his friend. He is saddened by it. And I'm still baffled as to why all of a sudden no more playdates.

It's really sad because now a days it seems like so many families are too busy to make room for anyone new. Even with the kids.

I hope your daughter meets another little girl that she wants to be friends with and hopefully that little girl's parents will make the time for playdates.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Houston on

I just have the kids deal with each other or have your daughter address it w/the other mom. Why should you keep having to come up w/excuses for someone else's hang ups?

Tell your daughter the next time she wants to play w/the friend, to ask the mom if she can play w/the friend. Let the mom deal w/it and be the one to say no or come up w/an excuse, or at least, let your daughter see that you have done what you could but in the end, if the mom doesn't want the girls playing together, then you have to abide by her wishes for her own daughter.

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answers from Beaumont on

Just encourage the other friendships she has by having sleepovers etc. It's a hard lesson for her, just the fact that not everything is fair etc., but it's unfortunately a part of life. With Christmas around the corner, there are alot of activities you could invite her other friends to do with you.

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answers from Boston on

Some moms are just over-scheduled or work long hours and cannot do the pick-up and drop off routine. Some parents have religious reasons. Some kids have too many activities already and just don't have space for anything else in their schedule. Some kids have tons of friends in their own street or visit their large extended family all the time and have no need for travelling to play dates. There are many reasons, but just be honest: you tried, and you cannot get a play date set up. Then just ask other friends over, or start an activity where she will see friends weekly without having to make such an effort.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from San Antonio on

Well, it is drastic but I am switching churches and trying to avoid this one girl who, along with her mom, cause disappointment and stress. They invite us then don't follow through and once uninvited my daughter from a party. I could not make my child see this girl is no friend and only comes around when it suits her.
Good luck and good decision to move on. What most helped was finding more girls to have over.



answers from Minneapolis on

For now, I'd not dwell on it. If you see the Mom around at school, be friendly. Encourage your DD to invite a few different friends over for playdates. If she persists on asking for this one girl to come over, tell her the truth. That the girl's Mom no longer allows her to go on playdates without her parents. You do not know the reason, but every family has different rules and practices, and you shoud respect their wishes. Tell DD you will ask her Mom if she would like to come over for a Mom's visit with you for coffee or whatever and she and her friend could play. The Mom may still decline, and then your DD will see you've tried, but it doesn't always work out. She may have to play with her at school only and have other friends for playdates and activities together. I wouldn't make it a huge deal or proclaim this girl "does not want to be her friend" You really don't know the reason they're shying away. It may have nothing to do with your or your DD, so I wouldn't burn bridges.



answers from Victoria on

I would tell her " her mommy and daddy say no" .

I would also ask the mother what happened to make her change her mind about starting non alone time playdates??? Wanting to "fix it" or understand why/ what reason she changed her there new stranger danger your not aware of.

I have offended someone by asking why they would not allow there daughter do go to a house. I just wanted to understand and did not agree with it but it was blow out ..and I was told I was "questioning there parenting". ugh really? thats totally NOT what my intentions were. just to come to a place of understanding.



answers from Oklahoma City on

Gosh, I would ask them. If they don't like you it's not like it's going to hurt their feelings any where they'll decide to not be friends anymore. They owe you an explanation. You need to know why they won't let her play with your daughter anymore.

I would never let my grand daughter go to a person's house to play without me anyway, that's just not going to happen unless I am friends with the person and have been there many times myself. There are too many people out there who are molesting their children or treating them in a manner unacceptable.

I would want to know what their daughter told them that was so bad they won't even consider letting her play with your child even in a neutral place like McDonalds.



answers from Phoenix on

At that age a large portion of friendships for children is aided by the parents. If the parents work, are going to school, have other children, kids in activities, have their own hobbies, etc., then they may just not have time for play dates. Who knows, maybe your kid likes her kid more than her kid likes yours. I'm not trying to mean, but maybe that's the reason, and she's too nice to say anything. You really can't know, though.

We dealt with similar last year when DD was in Pre-K. We were not from the neighborhood, and did not practice the same faith as most of the other families. Therefore, DD loved all the kids & wanted to do play dates, but only one happened during the whole year & we don't talk to any of the people now. Kids move on quickly, though.

Bottom line, you can't force it and there is something going on that is keeping this child away from yours. Time to accept it & move on. Just tell your DD that the friend's mom is very busy & they just don't have the time for play dates right now. In the meantime, they can socialize at school. Also, ask her if there's anyone else she wants to play with & see if the parents are more willing & able to follow through with it.



answers from Houston on

So the parents just dropped her off at your house for a playdate and didn't stay? To me that's odd, especially if they don't know you very well. I wonder if they had a bad experience with another family and now made a rule with all playdates, but it's weird that she didn't want to bring her daughter and visit with you, did you invite her to come over for coffee or something while the girls play?

Anyway you can be honest and say that her parents said no. Maybe they are too busy and over scheduled, maybe they aren't very nice who knows but it's probably a blessing in disguise! I'm sure your daughter will get over this maybe there is another friend that you can get together with instead.

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