How Do I Tell a Friend Her Child's Behavior Is Not Exceptable...

Updated on May 15, 2009
M.M. asks from Chicago, IL
8 answers

How do I tell a friend her child's behavior is not expectable... around my kids. Her child attends school with one of mine plus we do a number of things together. I know kids can be kids especially boys. I have two & I know they are not angels, but there are things that are not acceptable with my children & it looks like it’s no big deal with hers. She will actually sometimes laugh at his actions or pretend she didn’t hear him say anything. I sometimes think maybe she does this so he won’t have to deal with it but it's not fair to others. I can deal with a few things here & there & maybe I let more things get by when they were younger but it’s really getting out of hand. In the beginning there were times when he would use words or do things & my son didn’t even know what they meant or what they were & he would ask me, & I would just say how it was not nice to do that or say that & he would say, “well so & so does that or says that”, so I would say but we don’t & I’m sure his Mom will talk to him. Then it went to where my son started saying Ms. So & So lets him say or do that. Or there are times when we are together & if her child does something my son will turn to look at me. The other thing is that my youngest is at a stage where he is repeating everything or imitating everything. I try my hardest to also tell my youngest that it is not correct to do or say that but her child will laugh & continue to say it over & over & over to my boys even if I’m telling him that I don’t like for them to do that. If my boys look away kinda like saying I can’t hear you or don’t tell me I’m not interested he will get in their face or poke them so they will look at him. Or, sometimes he will just hit them if they ignore them. But, if my boys get upset & push him away or get upset & say stop or even do hit him back he will run to his Mom & act like my boys were almost killing him. My oldest & him are the same age but my oldest has always been very tall & he is not so much so a push from my boy can sometimes be a little much. I understand that & I’ve talked to my child to try to control that but it’s difficult. I think she is beginning to think my son is a giant monster with her child but he can be VERY annoying. He is everything I don’t want my boys ever to be. The thing is that she doesn’t see it a problem. My husband totally disagrees with his behavior & his take on this is that if he hits & doesn’t understand to stop, he’s told the boys to go to an adult but as a last resort just defend themselves. How do I word my concern to my friend? Sorry about this long posting.

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answers from Chicago on

I had similar problems with a friend of mine. Though I like her personally, I really do not like her children's behavior, or the way she handles it. I just decided that at this point, I will try to do things with her one on one and avoid situations where we are all together with the kids. It kind of stinks, but I don't want my kids around kids like that and honestly, the reality is that no one likes to be told how to parent their kid. That's just my opinion. Good luck.

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answers from Chicago on

If you don't want your children around this child, then stop hanging around with him. That seems obvious. You can't do anything about other kids' behaviors at school or in public.
All you can do is teach your children best behaviors and hope for the best. Believe me, if your children don't see bad behavior from this kid, though, there will eventually see/hear it somewhere else.
I know when my 4 year old son starts acting like a crazy devil child (like this morning at the park) I warn him 3 times and then we leave, kicking and screaming, if necessary. And that's it. Other parents don't seem as bothered by boys' rough play... I don't like it. Our son is rough and on bad days tends to get like that... we've gone many months in a row without visits to parks because he couldn't behave properly. Would another parent be so extreme? I don't know... But it's important to us that he learn what is acceptable and what isn't...
I'd say stick to your standards and surround your family with like-minded families & kids if you can. But be prepared for everything else. You won't be able to avoid it completely, especially at school when you're not there...

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answers from Chicago on


My experience is that your friend is going to resent you approaching her about this - she will take it as criticism that she is not a good parent. If you do say something to her, be prepared she will likely lash back with criticism about your parenting style, can be the beginning of the end of a friendship.

In my opinion, part of what kids have to learn is just because other kids are behaving a certain way, even if their parents allow it, does not mean it is okay for them. Also, there are some things they have to work out for themselves. But if it is to the point where they are getting physical out of being annoyed, it's time for a break.

Another thing you might want to take a 2nd look at - when you are with this friend, do you take a lot of her attention? Might your friend's child be mis-behaving to get his Mom's attention when you are around?

If this is a close friend and you plan on remaining friends in the future, my advice is to say nothing to her. You can only control what your own children do.

best wishes,


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answers from Chicago on

I agree with the other posts - it's hard to give an honest answer without knowing how old the kids are and how close your relationship is with this "friend".

Of course, if you say anything to HER you risk offending her and losing her friendship. If she's a close enough friend, you should know her well enough to be able to say how YOU feel about the children's behavior without directly attacking her or her child. I think this goes best by starting with an example of another child (let's say at a playground) who was hitting and the mother wasn't "protecting" the other kids. Talk about how you struggle to teach your children manners and what's appropriate when other children aren't behaving. See how she reacts? Does she agree? Does she say, "Boys will be boys." I think then you will know how to approach your problem with her parenting style/son's behavior. It leads into a discussion if you think she's receptive.

I think you have every right to say something to the child when he is at your house. If it's your house, it's your rules. In front of his Mom, tell him "we don't talk that way" or "we don't push/hit people in this house". I think this is another subtle way to let him and your friend know that you will protect your children and enforce some rules.

Now if you're at their house or out in public, unless he's hurting your children, I don't think that you have the right to parent him. I have been bold enough when I see a "friend" of my child acting or doing something inappropriate, and when my child gives me that look like "mom can I do that too" or "what's up with that", I simply tell MY CHILD "we don't do that" or "mind yourself". I find that more often than not, the other parent hears me and corrects their child. Believe it or not, one time at my brother's house at his dinner table when his son was throwing food and misbehaving my daughter started (they were 3). I corrected my daughter by warning her that that was inappropriate and she would lose her dinner if she kept acting that way. My brother quickly told his son to stop it because he was getting my daughter in trouble. I said, "No no. I'm only telling her what not to do. You go ahead and continue however you were. I'm letting her know it's not ok." I think leading by example is the best way versus causing a confrontation...afterall, I'm not saying my parenting style is best, just that it works for us.

So my advice, is if you see her son hitting, pushing, then tell him, "Please keep your hands to yourself." And if he continues to say inappropriate things I don't think it's out of line to ASK your friend to help your child understand that he is teaching/modelling behavior for your younger child and that you don't think that some of the words he's using are appropriate for your young child to hear. Again, you're not attacking her or her child.

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answers from Chicago on

"He is everything I don't want my boys ever to be." Wow, that's scary! Our children will act like the friends with whom we surround them. I believe that we give a message to our kids that WE CONDONE being disrespectful when we continue to put them with kids who are disrespectful. Your children seem old enough to understand that "no one is allowed to treat us that way" or "it's important to choose friends who are nice to us." These are messages that are critical to share early and often. And we need to make better choices about who we hang out with to be consistent with these messages.

You may choose to confront this situation directly or not... that is such a personal decision. It's best to frame the discussion with how YOU feel and the exact behaviors that you observed. Even careful planning about what and how to say things will probably end in hurt feelings. No one likes to hear that his or her kids may have a negative impact on someone... sometimes facing this reality stings. Does this mom strike you as someone who WANTS to make positive changes with her parenting choices? Is there a history of defensiveness? You'll know if and how to talk about this when you consider these things about her.



answers from Chicago on

You don't say how close you are with Mom. If she is a really good friend, talk to her about it, even if you have already (and it sounds like you have). If it still continues, it may be necessary to tell her that you cannot have her son saying such and such or acting whatever way with your kids. You may have to cut down the times you spend with her. It is one thing for "boys will be boys" but totally another for absolutely inappropriate behavior. Hopefully, she is not a mom that thinks her kids are totally innocent little angels that can never do any wrong.
I am having a similar problem with a new friend my son made. This boy is only 6 or 7 and he has come into my house when parents are not home even though he was told he could not, he calls the kids names-especially the girls. He tried to force his way into my house last night. I plan to have a little talk with him and then his mom if needed. I can understand that at his house kids come and go but at my house, I prefer a knock on the door. He has even gotten mad that my son had to go home. My son may have to find a new friend which is unfortuante but may be necessary.



answers from Chicago on

I'm having the same problem, only my "friend" is my husband's cousin and my son's 2nd cousin. It's easy to just stop being friends with the person, but in my situation, we are a very close family, so I just can't stop being friends with her. What I have done is start disciplining her child. She was really young when she had him and doesn't really know what she is doing as far as discipline is concerned. So if her son is doing something he shouldn't be, especially if he is hitting my son or aggravating him, I step in and tell him that he needs to stop. Her son also uses some questionable language and says things that I don't want my son to say. When that happens, I tell him that what he said was "not nice" or "we don't say things like that in this house", etc. When I start correcting her son, she will get embarassed and then do the discipline herself. I think she just forgets that she's a parent sometimes and needs to be reminded that she is in charge of shaping his behavior. You should try talking to her first, and if that doesn't work, maybe you should start doing a little disciplining. At least in your own home. Maybe she will realize that she needs to change a few things, or she will stop hanging out with you. Good luck!



answers from Chicago on

I didn't see how old your children are, but in a nutshell, if there's a problem you need to deal directly with the mom. You need to tell her that your children have been saying bad words (or doing whatever) and when you ask them where they learned them it was from her child. See what she says. If she laughs it off, then stop seeing her. If she seriously seems concerned, you need to say that you don't want to expose your child to this because her child doesn't see anything wrong with it. You might want to offer what kind of punishment your child gets for bad behavior.

As far as the hitting goes, this is not going to get better unless the other mother steps in and takes control. Your child should not have to be exposed to it. I have tried dealing with some of these parents in the past and found that it doesn't work well. If it is a school problem, you need to get the school involved because bullies have parents that are either uncaring and uninvolved or sometimes they are bullies too.

Hope that helps,

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