What to Do When Your Friend Doesn't like Your Kid

Updated on September 07, 2017
C.B. asks from Dothan, AL
20 answers

A few weeks ago a close friend I have known since before we both had children sent me a text that has caused a lot of friction between us. Apparently my 10 year old son made a comment to her 12 year old son that said friend "drank a lot". To give a little back story, our families have regularly (at least 2xs a month) gotten together and hung out on weekend nights at each other's houses, there is usually drinking and always a DD. So it's a fair statement that the majority of the time my son sees my friend she is drinking, and since the only time I or his father drinks we are at their house. Anyways, my friend's son got upset which understandably upset my friend. She sent me a very defensive and harsh text about my son and how it was non of his business what she does in her own home and she does not want my son talking to her son about such things again. I told her that we would talk to our son about not discussing adult things and if he has questions he should ask us and not his friends. Since then she has been very distant and we have not hung out at all. I found out that she had a get together this past weekend and all of our friends and their families were invited but we were not. Our families used to be very close...taking vacations together and our kids are on the same sports team, also we work at the same place. I just need to know if I should move on from the friendship but it's hard to think of throwing away 15 years.

A bit more-
I have zero problem with how much of how frequently she drinks or if she drinks in front of my kids, I drink as well when we are together but in all honesty I usually don't when we're not. Also, she does a lot drink more than I do during our times together so I guess that's the observation my son got. When his father and I talked to him about it he didn't see anything wrong with what he said and was very upset that he was "in trouble for nothing". I truly believe it was an innocent albeit inappropriate comment by a child. I have considered that she is more upset that her son is voicing concern about it and using my son's statement as leverage than she actually is at my son but I figured that we were close enough that it wouldn't change our relationship like it feels like it has. I have not mentioned this to anyone else in our group but I'm not sure if she has...hence why I am crowd sourcing here, I don't want anyone else to get involved that's close to the situation, it's between just the two of us. I have offered to have my son apologize to her son since no one likes to hear anything disparaging about someone they love but she said she didn't want it brought up again and to just leave it. Our boys have been around each other numerous times since this and they don't seem to be any different that before, but my kids have noticed that we aren't hanging out with them anymore and have started asking if we are even still friends.

What can I do next?

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M.6.

answers from New York on

ETA** I have to say that I disagree with the other posters about telling your son that he shouldn't "talk about adults that way." Good grief!!!! HE IS 10! What ever happened to the "your momma so fat" "your momma so ugly" jokes. Don't any of you remember those? The jokes were never about a person's mother . . . My God, KIDS SAY STUPID THINGS! Who runs and tattles to their mom about something a 10 yr old said? What has the world come to that we have to start censoring what a 10 yr old said, probably in passing, to a buddy about his mom?
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I find it somewhat ridiculous and petty that your friend would be mad over something one child said to another. He is 10 for crying out loud - most kids don't have a mouth filter until their late teens (and sometimes early 20s). I think that it is just as annoying that the 12 yr old repeated something a friend said to him as it is that the 10 yr old said anything at all.

The fact that something this small upset her says she either has a drinking problem that she is so sensitive about it, or she is one of those folks who gets upset about every little thing said to them. Both ways do not have a very good outcome for a friendship unless your friend is willing to take the high road on them.

I wouldn't make my kid apologize - he made an observation and I really doubt his intention was to be unkind or ruffle feathers. I would talk to your son about how some folks get upset about comments and other folks don't and it is hard to know who is who, even adults make that mistake all the time. Don't put him in the middle or make him feel like he did something wrong - he didn't. Your friend is the one acting like a child.

I also wouldn't apologize myself other than to say "I'm sorry that what my son said upset you - he is a child and you know that was never his intent" and move on. I think I would also ask (if she really is a good friend) WHY what my 10 year old said was so upsetting.

Good luck!

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D..

answers from Miami on

After your additional comments:
I have to admit that I don't blame your son for feeling like he didn't do anything wrong. He actually didn't. You would be telling your son to apologize for something that he doesn't feel is wrong, so his apology would really mean nothing, except to fix your friendship. Is that really what you want? To put him in charge of fixing your friendship?

Your feeling here that her son is concerned about his mother should tell you VOLUMES about what else is going on in that house, mom. Your friend drinks too much. That child loves his mother and is worried about her. His feelings are valid, and you shouldn't teach your son to enable someone with a drinking problem. If he apologized to her, that's exactly what he would be doing. And what you would be doing by requiring him to apologize to her.

Your son is too young to understand this stuff. Leave it for now. But don't expect him to fix your friendship. This woman values her drinking more than she values you, I am sorry to say. I am sure that you don't want to consider this, but from what you write, it's pretty clear...

Original:
It sounds like this hit too close to home. She's fine with her kid seeing her drink, but not with someone mentioning the obvious to her kid.

It's too bad that she is acting this way, but there's nothing you can do. Perhaps if you had said that kids don't know that it's awkward to talk about this subject. Don't hold it against him. But it may not have worked anyway.

Have you considered that your friend is a functioning alcoholic? If every get-together includes drinking, this may be the case.

You aren't the one who is throwing away 15 years of friendship. She is. Include her in your invitation list for a while and see if she will come. If she has a function after receiving your invitation that is competing with it, don't invite her anymore.

Sometimes you learn stuff about people who you THOUGHT you knew...

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M.D.

answers from Pittsburgh on

I think you should ask your friend to meet up for lunch sometime and try to patch things up. Apologize for your son's thoughtlessness, and then ask if the two of you can move past it because you miss her friendship. If she can't move past it, you can't force her to, but I think you should meet her in person to try.

I also think that you need to revisit this with your son. I'm really bothered by his response that he's in trouble for nothing because HE didn't see anything wrong with what he said. I would tell him that this is entirely beside the point. He hurt her feelings. If you hurt someone, whether on purpose or accidentally, you apologize (and it should be to her, not to her son) and you learn from that mistake. And his mistake - talking about your friend to someone else - was that he was gossiping, and even if he didn't have negative intentions, gossiping is not nice. These are all lessons that he can learn from this that will serve him well far beyond the current situation.

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D.D.

answers from Boston on

I'd speak with your son and let him know that making comments about other adults to their children is not ok. He can talk to you but its hurtful to hear negative things about your parents. He's old enough to learn that lesson.

As far as your friend? I think you son's comment hit her hard because there's probably a little truth to it. If she's drinking at every get together and drinks more than you and your husband (which obviously your son noticed) then she might have an addiction problem she is denying.

I would say at this point to invite her to your house when you want and leave it up to her to come or not. It might be time to pull the plug on the friendship but let her tug that cord. Just continue to be friendly and see if she comes around.If others in the group notice and approach you take the high road and say that your friend's feeling were hurt by something that was said and you are sad. Don't give details. Maybe someone else will take it upon themselves to patch it up.

The one thing I will say is that some friendships last a lifetime and some only a few minutes. Your friendship with her might have run its course.

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C.C.

answers from New York on

Of course you should make amends and patch things up with your friend!! But maybe best to do that one-on-one for a while, just seeing your friend without including the kids. Whether for drinks or not. (You say your friendship began before you had kids, so that might even be a nice way to get back to your friendship "roots".)

Now, though, to address your son's comment -

In part, this is an example of kids having "no filter". Maybe your son did not even realize the negative implications of his comment. I think you need to have a conversation with your son about not openly/publicly discussing observations about people (especially adults). He can share his thoughts with you, but best to not do that in public.

On the other hand, your son is approaching the smart-alecky wise-guy tween years, and especially if your son IS aware of the negative implications of his comment, I think it is worth reminding your son that there are certain "judgments" that he is really not justified in making, on the basis of his own limited experience. He is old enough to start learning that concept. Your son asserts that someone drinks "a lot" - well, what is your son measuring "a lot" against...it's not like he is an adult surrounded by various types of drinking habits. It would be like if your son expressed an opinion that you were paying too much in property taxes, while having absolutely no knowledge of tax conditions generally. And, you can teach your son, the lowest quality of openly expressed opinions are opinions made with no good basis for developing that opinion.

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J.C.

answers from Anchorage on

She is way over reacting to what is a normal observation for someone of that age who has only been taught that he should stay away from alcohol. She is being completely unreasonable and I am sorry that you may lose a friend over her being petty and immature. But, in the end there may not be much that can be done. I would talk to her one on one, tell her that your feelings were hurt over the get together and ask why she is taking the comments of a child so seriously as to throw away a long term friendship.

My guess, if she has gotten this defensive about it she may actually have a drinking problem she doesn't want out in the open.

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B.C.

answers from Norfolk on

I think you and your friend need a one on one get together to talk things out.
Your friendship is a long one from before you had kids.
It's strange she got so defensive from one comment made between the kids.
She must think your son is parroting what you have said - so she thinks it's coming from you.
Her feelings must be pretty hurt - and yet that it hurt her so much means that on some level she must feel the comment hit pretty close to home.
And your text to her did NOT say anything about what YOU thought - so she still thinks the thought came from you.
If she accepts an apology and that you have no idea where your son got this idea and you don't have any opinion at all about what she does or doesn't drink, then going forward it might be good for you and her to have some get togethers without the kids.

If she doesn't accept an apology - you don't really have any choice but to move on.

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A.D.

answers from Minneapolis on

Your friend is probably upset because now she's going to have to be mindful about her own son noticing how much she drinks and maybe questioning, and/or worrying about her drinking. I agree with others that said there must be some truth to it because of her reaction.

She said she didn't want it brought up again, so I think you should honor that. Invite her and her family to your house in the near future, just like you would have, had this not happened. Serve what you would normally serve. Ignore that she may have snubbed you by not inviting you to her last gathering. Carry on by being friendly around school, work, sports, etc. If she continues to disengage, that's her choice. You can only take the high road yourself.

If your kids ask if you are still friends I would say even though it's been awhile since you have gotten together that yes, you still consider them friends. You can let them know then that you've invited them over to your next gathering (on whatever date). If they ask why they didn't go to their house last weekend (like if they heard about that last gathering you were left out of), I would just be honest and simply tell them "I don't know" But demonstrate that you aren't feeling overly anxious about it, and hopefully they won't worry about it either.

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M.G.

answers from Portland on

It is very common at this age (and early teens) to talk about each other's parents and to make observations. One of my son's friends told their gang that my husband is always drinking beer. Now this boy's parents (friends of ours) do not drink - period. So this boy (interested in drinking most likely) sees my husband with beer and then makes a big deal about it. The whole alcohol thing becomes of interest to them at this age. Making comments about kids' families and other friends - is very typical.

So I'm sure your son was making a somewhat innocent comment. They start calling adults out on things. Just have a talk with your son about being respectful and that it hurts people to make comments about people they care about, and there's no need for it. Very common. We've gone camping with family friends - they all watch what we adults consume, trust me.

I think her sending you a text to express her upset - was a bad idea on her part. It is not the way to communicate issues. Did you call her or just text back? These things need to be dealt with either in person or at least by phone.

This same kind of thing has happened to me before. What ended up working best was we get together with them without the kids. We're free to have fun. Sometimes friendships have to change up a bit (evolve).

It does sound like you might have been excluded - but when people overreact like this (sounds like to me) then there might be another issue. She might be very sensitive to how much she drinks or other people's opinion of her, etc. If it keeps happening - I would wait a while, then reach out to her by phone. Kids are kids - they make mistakes - your son is learning. If she does hold resentment for a long while - then honestly, I think you're better to just move on.

ETA: Great advice Annette. Well said!

ETA 2: Isn'tthisfun? Makes a very good point. When I heard that my son's friend remarked that my husband was 'always drinking beer' (exaggeration but maybe was from his perspective) I did stop and think, I wonder if his parents think so? And then I moved on. If she is more sensitive ... or paranoid, etc. then that might really have got to her. That's her problem though. I always think, how would I have reacted? Reasonable people would move on.

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M.S.

answers from Washington DC on

I don't know your son, but in his 10 yr old world he just made an honest observation. She probably does drink a lot to him, because you guys don't drink very much. Please do what you can so he doesn't feel he was the reason to end your friendship, should this happen.

Her reaction makes me think that either she thinks he heard this from you or that she really does have a problem and doesn't want to deal with it. Either way, you need to talk to her alone, in person, and let the chips fall, as they say. Maybe your friendship is over, maybe she needs help, maybe she is fine and just needs to hear that it didn't come from you, or she is embarrassed. I would give it one last shot and see what happens.

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K.G.

answers from Fort Myers on

Your friend wouldn't have gotten so defensive if what your son said wasn't true. Maybe she drinks heavily on days there aren't get togethers. Try to talk to her and see where you guys stand.

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J.C.

answers from Philadelphia on

It sounds like the truth hurts.

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R.K.

answers from Boston on

As to your friend, the ball is in her court. Keep inviting her a few times and she will either cope and forgive, or not. You really don't know why this hit such a nerve, but you have apologized and now it's time to let things take their course.

As to your son, I agree that kids are just learning to make judgements at that age, without meaning harm. I'll never forget a similarly aged child , who adored her Dad, saying to my husband "My father works much harder than you do." My husband replied "I bet he does." No harm meant, no harm done.

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O.L.

answers from Los Angeles on

Sounds like your friend was triggered by your son's comment. IMO, that has more to do with her than it does your son. Why would she get so upset about a child's observation? If she felt that there was judgment in what he had said, she could easily talk with you about it. However, I think it hit at a deeper level for her. That is something that you can't explore for her. It's HER issue.

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K.C.

answers from Los Angeles on

I think you should call her. Talk to her and say that you're sad that you haven't hung out in awhile. Apologize again for what your son said and reiterate that you have explained to him that it's inappropriate to talk about things like that (sounds like you have done a great job talking to her your son already). Say that you understand why it upset her but that you don't want to throw away a 15 year friendship over one comment that your son made. After that, it's up to her - you'll have done what you can and she'll need to decide if she wants to stay friends or not.

Don't text about it anymore. Talk. Texting makes it SO hard to understand how people are really feeling, as there is no tone of voice. What you write remorsefully may be read sarcastically (for example). If you talk, you can better explain what you really mean and she can hear in your voice that you feel bad about what happened and aren't just brushing it off as no big deal.

It sounds like between work and sports, you're going to be around each other a lot. Clear the air on your end and you'll feel better knowing you have done all you can.

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H.M.

answers from Dallas on

I feel that if she is that upset about what a 10 year old said she obviously has issues. She probably does drink a lot and it hits too close to home. I know kids at that age have no or very little filter. And if she is that upset at you about it to exclude you from gatherings she was not that good a friend to begin with. If she can't get over it move on.

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B.J.

answers from Los Angeles on

Send her a card and tell her you are sorry her feelings were hurt and you value your friendship. Hopefully, she gets passed all this.Seems like a silly thing to be mad about.

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V.B.

answers from Jacksonville on

I don't know necessarily that her reaction means there is truth to her drinking "a lot" ... whatever that means. That it hits too close to home...

It seems more likely to me that she assumes he overheard something YOU said and was repeating it. I'd view the whole thing from that angle. Speak to her (not text) and tell her right out that you can see how she might make that assumption, but it isn't the case. She's thinking a 10 year old didn't observe this on his own and is just parroting what he heard. It sounds like gossip, from her good friend about herself.

So correct that assumption. If she still can't get over it, then I'm sorry. Seems you have lost a friend. But like another poster mentioned... you need to focus then on making sure your son doesn't feel responsible or to blame. Granted, he needs to be more thoughtful about his comments and to whom... but you've covered that ground and it wasn't malicious.

Good luck.

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C.T.

answers from Santa Fe on

Wow, talk about overreacting and taking something a 10 year old says personally. She should have just laughed it off and said to her son...well I guess I like having a beer with our friends when they are here hanging out. Kids make honest observations and tend to state things plainly. It really is no big deal. I'm sorry this has affected your friendship...it sounds like she is overly sensitive about this subject. Hmmm. I would just reach out to her and tell her you love her and value her friendship and see if she can hang out sometime. I bet with time things will mellow out. By the way - she is showing you a huge flaw in herself. She takes things children say personally. She punishes your whole family for it. She may even be willing to give up a 15 year friendship for it. Why? Who knows. It's really sad though. One other thought -- If her son got REALLY upset that makes me wonder how exactly did your son phrase this and what did he say? Maybe your son really was a jerk about it and said some mean things. I can't see a 12 year old really getting very upset by a 10 year old saying his mom drinks a lot...my 13 year old son might say, Yeah, she likes her wine but then he probably wouldn't give it another thought. Do you think that behind the scenes she actually is an alcoholic? The other reason her son might have gotten really upset is maybe life is not good in their household due to her drinking? I'm just throwing out ideas. If that is the case I can see why she might pull away...she is embarrassed and it hits too close to home. I'm not saying that is true though.

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D.B.

answers from Boston on

I agree with those who say that your child's remarks hit her so close to home that she can't forget them. It's possible she thinks he learned this from you (despite your participation in these gatherings) or that she's just so upset with having to defend her actions to her own child that she's blaming yours.

It's pretty common for parents to have a hard time talking about things with their kids. I live on a back road that has a long, straight stretch. It can turn into a speedway, not just with teenagers but also with some rushing parents. We worked to get the speed limit lowered, and the police officer told us that he'd be happy to have residents call in repeated violators to the department. He said a uniformed officer would pay a visit to the home. He said there is nothing more effective than a child saying, "How come the police officer wanted to talk to you, Daddy?" Slows Dad down, saves the town from ticketing or setting up a speed trap, and solves the problem of speeding.

So, while I agree that your son should be told not to comment on or criticize another adult to that adult's family member, he's also not to blame for your friend's overreaction.

I'd stop the texting. Have a conversation. Invite her for coffee and talk this out. Say that you have spoken to your son and that she's right, he should not be discussing or criticizing with her son. Don't go overboard, just throw her a bone on this. Say that you miss her and your fun times together, and you hope that she can set aside a child's thoughtless comments and trust that you have spoken to him.

If she refuses, then you know she's not that much of a friend and she's not ready for an adult relationship. If she's having gatherings without you and she knows you're likely to find out about it, then she's being kind of juvenile.

If this doesn't work out, in the long run, you haven't lost as much as you think you have. If it were not this episode, it would have been something else.

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