What to Do from Here? **SWH Added**

Updated on August 04, 2018
S.C. asks from Hull, MA
17 answers

Hello! I was curious to get the take of some others on a situation we're dealing with at the moment. I have two kids (ages 6 and 11) and we have friends nearby who we are great friends with. We have vacationed with them, see them maybe 2-3 times per week and typically get along great. However recently their oldest (9) has become...difficult....with my kids. Most recently my youngest picked up a marker that their 9 year old had discarded and she got right up in the face of my youngest and screamed at her to not touch her things. She told my two multiple times that she didn't want them to feel welcome in her home and other unkind things. These things were witnessed and told to me by a neutral third party - an adult babysitter who neither of us has a friendship with so I am inclined to believe her. This babysitter was very upset with the 9 year olds behavior and she sent a text to this mother explaining what had happened. I receive a text from my friend saying that her child was "in a bad mood" and had her ipad taken away, but that she hopes my kids had fun anyway. My children were quite upset with how they were treated and I am wondering what (if anything) to do from here. Other than the obvious taking a bit of time apart - should I be clear with this mom that her child's actions were hurtful? She seems to really blow it off and I was hoping it would be a learning opportunity for her children as well as my own. But now I feel like they will sweep it under a rug and try to move on without acknowledging it. if my kids did something like that (and mine are not perfect either!) then there would be a letter of apology, etc...if you were in this position would you just let it go or be very clear that it was quite hurtful and seems to be escalating? TIA!

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So What Happened?

Thank you to all who responded, I appreciate your point of view. Just to clear up a couple of things - this is not even close to the first time such a thing has happened. I said that the behavior is escalating because it is - everyone's kids (including my own) have their moments or days they aren't quite themselves. In the interest of not writing a huge novel I didn't include all of the previous issues but please know that the only reason I posted the question at this time was because the behaviors are getting worse. The screaming in my kids face? The kind of red faced, spittle on the others face, taunting and name calling was what happened, not just a "don't touch my stuff!" moment. Also I'm very aware of puberty and mood swings - I do have my own child going through these things. But if my child were to behave this way I don't believe that puberty and mood swings is an excuse - I know grown women who will behave terribly and say "Oh, it's that time of the month". I think you are right in that we won't have the kids be babysat together again - we've done that a bunch of times and it's always gone well but things change. I think their little girl can be sweet but - in my opinion - if her parents consistently explain away her behavior (she was in a "bad mood", she said that the issue was that one of mine is "too sensitive") and don't show her that her behavior hurts others then it will be hard to have our families spend time together in the same way we used to. But, maybe that's exactly the point - maybe it's just too much! All kids are learning and working through growing up and hopefully this will be a learning opportunity for all. Thanks again for everyone's opinion and time!

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answers from Dallas on

I would let it go for now and see if it happens again. If it does then you might approach the mother about it. She may have had a strong conversation with her child besides just taking away the ipad. The child is 9 years old they are going to have bad days and can not be expected to act like adults. It's good to use this as a teaching opportunity of forgiveness.

7 moms found this helpful


answers from New York on

Let it go this time, cut back on time spent together, and if the behavior continues then stop hanging out altogether.
The mom disciplined the 9yr old, so it was not just swept under the rug. Which is why I say let it go, but if the behavior continues then it's time to say goodbye

4 moms found this helpful

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answers from Pittsburgh on

Let it go. And at the same time, only have the kids together when both you and the other mom are with them. From your post, it sounds like you and the other parents went out and left all the kids together with 1 sitter. This is the end of that arrangement. From now on, when you want to go out with that mom, you each get your own sitter at your own house.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Boston on

Perhaps the friendship among the kids has run its course. Clicking with a family at one point in life doesn't mean that things will work forever. My kids can't stand a lot of the children of my friends, so the friendships are among the adults. My kids had close friendships with some kids when they were younger whom they were not friends with a few years later. It is hard to see that happen when we like the parents and consider them family friends, but there's really nothing you can do other than decide to maintain friendships without the kids involved.

You do seem to be overreacting a bit and dismissing the mother's actions. She isn't blowing this off. Expecting a written apology from one child to another seems over the top to me. I'd take this as a sign that the kids have had enough of each other and take a break, as you mentioned. Things might settle down with time among the kids but if they don't, that's OK.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Amarillo on

Parents are good friends. The children were younger when the parents got together to do things. In the meantime, the kids have been growing up and changing.

It is now time to split up babysitting and things when you go out with separate sitters. I have a couple that we liked to do things with and we had a child the same age and one day was fine together but a second day was hard on everyone. So we would make sure that we did things without the kids to enjoy the adult company. It is part of life.

the other S.

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answers from Dallas on

The mom apologized and her child had consequences so this was not swept under the rug.

It's very possible the 9 yr old had a bad day.

I think you should let it go. Maybe take a break from spending so much time together.

Also explain to your children. That this child was punished for her behavior. Mom apologized and they should learn to let things go as well. There's no reason for anger or hurt to be escalating.

I'm sure you'd appreciate that if it were your children having a bad day.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from New York on

I'm not sure what you mean in saying this is "escalating". If you mean that this child was nice to your children in the past but recently has become difficult and most recently did what you describe here - "escalating" in her level of being a "difficult person" - well then I am inclined to remind you, as others have noted below, that age 9 can easily be the beginning of the hormonal "tween" years. This child's personality might get "worse" before it gets better!

Beyond that, the mother certainly did not blow this off - the mother took away the child's iPad, based *soley* on the report of a babysitter. Neither of you actually witnessed the situation or heard the child's words with your own ears.

Going forward, I think age 9 and age 11 are way too old for "forced" arranged playdates. Everyone getting together for lunch, moms included, is one thing. But I think you might as well stop the playdates.

(And remember - there is a *world* of difference between a 6-year-old and a 9-year-old. Those two really do not need to be forced to play together.)

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Kalamazoo on

I agree with Heidi. Everyone has bad days and I would let it slide this time. If it happens again and/or becomes a normal pattern of her behavior talk with the mom about it. She might even have some hormones kicking in at that age........

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Houston on

Oh my goodness... What do you do? Nothing, Mom took care of it. The 9 year old had consequences. Nothing was swept under the rug. She acknowledge that her daughter was having a bad day. I think perhaps the 9 year old is spending too much time with your kids and I would limit their exposure.

Perhaps your 6 year old has been bugging her and taking her stuff. I don't know totally what happened and neither do you. Should she have gotten nasty with your daughter? No. But your child needs to learn that not everything is for her use and should ask before taking something that is not hers.

I do think you are over doing this. Again, mom address it and its time to move on.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

i'm not sure why you feel the mother blew it off and is sweeping it under the rug and not acknowledging it. apparently neither of you were there and only heard about the incident from the babysitter. the mother texted you unprompted, shared with you that she had spoken with and imposed a consequence on her daughter, and expressed a hope that your kids are okay.

i think that shows a LOT of taking responsibility.

i think that you having a specific expectation- a letter of apology- is crossing the line into micromanaging her parenting. i do understand wanting an acknowledgment from the child herself. however, remember she's only 9. would a parentally- imposed apology mean much?

i think your role in all of this is to work with your own kids on coping techniques. if someone gets up in their face and screams at them, how do you think they should respond? role play with them on various appropriate responses and let them express how it makes them feel. i would also encourage them to consider some possible reasons why a friend, who presumably hasn't been mean to them in the past, is suddenly being awful, and brainstorm some empathetic possibilities.

lastly i wouldn't demand that my kids play with hers again for a bit if they don't want to. i don't know the circumstances under which all the kids were with a babysitter, but for the time being i'd only have them together if you're present and can leave if the other girl gets nasty.

but it sounds as if this is a one time occurrence. i'm not sure why you can't chalk it up to an anomaly or a bad mood and move on.


3 moms found this helpful


answers from Minneapolis on

Do your kids really want to spend time with their kids? I'd ask them, without any leading. "Do you want to go over to the Smith's house to play on Saturday?" If they hedge, make sure they know it's OK with you if they want to say yes, or say no. Take your cue from them. If they don't want to see them, I would definitely not force them together for playdates, babysitting, etc. I wouldn't say anything to the parents about the prior incident, it sounds like they were already told about it. The mom didn't react the way you wished she would have, but that's not something you can control. It's a touchy subject. She was uncomfortable. You can't talk her into being more sorry.

If your kids do want to see them, I'd let it go but make sure to be nearby and be very watchful when you do get them together. If the 9 year old's parent doesn't react by immediately correcting any mistreatment, I think you should step in and gently intervene yourself. If it's a really ugly incident or very mean treatment, consider just excusing your family, and leaving. It sends a good message to all the kids. It's not OK to be unkind. And if are treated badly, you don't have to stay there and take it. Social gatherings are optional, no one should be required to there.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Boston on

I don't think there's much you can do unless and until you witness it yourself. You have the babysitter's take on things, but that's all. Maybe the sitter overreacted, maybe she was defensive if she perhaps wasn't paying close enough attention or failed to intervene if a situation was brewing. You have your kids' view of things, but you don't really know what your kids did (if anything) to precipitate a reaction. So stay open to other explanations.

The mom didn't sweep it under the rug - she imposed consequences. But she didn't see it either and of course the intervention/consequences were delayed, so they're not as impactful as something done at the time. (Plenty of kids are crafty enough to not do this stuff in front of a parent - which also means she can control her behavior a bit.

I think you handle it as you would anything else. If your kids don't want to play there, then they take a break, either total or reduced numbers of get togethers.. Kids don't all have to be buddies just because the parents are friends. Maybe all of the kids are sick of getting together so often, so it's fine to branch out.

Now, if you have a chance for a day trip together, then you'll be there (as will the other parents) if an incident occurs. Or maybe your presence will deter the behavior. If the kid has a problem that's developing, then at least seeing it will give you something to go on. You can still be sympathetic to your friend at having to go through a tough time with her kid. This will be good preparation for all of you for the teen years too!

Meantime, you work on building resilient children who can either shrug stuff off or learn some good coping strategies for dealing with difficult people and standing up for themselves. It's all a learning process and it's not perfect.

I have mixed feelings about a letter of apology (or an automatic "I'm sorry"). Yes, it's good to teach manners and all of that, but if the kid isn't really sorry, what good is an apology? Too many kids, especially young ones, think that an apology neutralizes the offense and makes it go away, like it never happened. An apology is not a do-over, the way many kids (and, frankly, many parents) think it is.

If you think this behavior is escalating, then you handle it as you would if it were any kid - you'd tell your child he/she doesn't have to play with that child. Make another plan. You don't have to get into it with the other parents - you just say your kid can't come today because she is doing something else. It's okay when kids change their friendships up a bit, and it's okay to give a little space to let things calm down. My kid has moved in different circles at different stages of his life, and it's fine if friendships drift away. The thing that happens if you confront your friend is that she's likely to take it as a critique of her parenting. And that never works out well.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Miami on

She apologized for her child's behavior and punished the child accordingly. I would let it go. All kids have said hurtful things or misbehaved at one point. The kid may have been overtired or overstimulated and responded accordingly. Maybe the kid has some type of behavioral disorder, is unable to express anger in a healthy way, or suffers from something like autism. If it continues or the mom makes excuses for it, then certainly, by all means, distance yourselves, but I'd wait to see if it happens again before assuming these people are not worthy of a friendship.

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answers from Appleton on

My two older granddaughters started their periods at 9.5 and 10 years old. Her body is changing and she is not ready for the emotional turmoil she is going through.

Maybe have a talk with her mom about this. This is hard girls so young getting hormonal and not understanding their bodies.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Portland on

You can't expect other parents to parent their children how you would like - as you realize I'm sure, so what to do? nothing. There is nothing you can do, other than decide what you will do - which is a) say something (what good will that do? Nothing - just piss the mother off), or b) let it go and decide that if it happens again you will address it then or c) just not get together with the kids so much.

If it were me, I'd let it go and not get together so much with the kids. If you do, I wouldn't have the babysitter babysit the kids. Part of it sounds like she didn't effectively handle it. Honestly, what was the mom supposed to do after the fact? I think I'd give the mom some leeway here and assume (give benefit of doubt) that had she been there, she would have nipped it in bud a bit better. If you feel she would not have (based on your SWH) then don't have kids play together. Just get together with the mom without kiddos.

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answers from Washington DC on

She's NINE YEARS OLD - the hormones are kicking in.
Maybe 2 to 3 times a week is too much now. So I would pull back to once a week.

I think the mom already knows that her daughter's words were hurtful. What do you expect her to do - force her daughter to apologize? It wouldn't be a sincere apology - it would be fake and forced. Do you expect the mom to take her out in public and flog her? What?

The mom DID acknowledge it. It wasn't swept under the rug. However - you cannot discipline someone else's child. No matter how close you are to them.

Maybe if you stated what you feel should have happened and how you feel she should have disciplined or punished her daughter, that would help. Hearing/reading YOUR expectations will help.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Miami on

Here's my take. The mother did NOT blow this off. She didn't have to address this with you. She chose to. Her hand wasn't forced here. You are the one who wants more.

That being said, her child is going through something traumatic. You have no idea what it is. The mother may not either. When school starts, there will be calls from the teacher. Other kids will get screamed at. The mom is going to have a hard time.

In my view, the best thing you can do is keep quiet about this and just beg off from the kids playing together. If she asks why, just tell her you feel that her 9 year old needs some space from uour kids. Leave it at that. She will learn more after school starts.

If you go down the path you are pushing for here, your friendship will end. This isn't a neighbor down the street. This is someone you are close to. Let her figure this out on her own. But the kids need a break.

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