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A friend's spoiled child, help!

post #1 of 18
Thread Starter 
I have this friend who is super super nice. She is also very sensitive and compliments me and my children a lot. I have always liked her children. My dh cannot stand her dh. Her dh is pompous and sexist and would often make sexist jokes and tear down his wife (my friend) at work to everyone. And he always wanted a son and would often make remarks about all women are good for and such. He is quite emotionally abusive at the very least.

So my friend finally had a little boy and he is about 5 yrs old now. The rest of the children are much older, teenagers and preteens, and all girls. The little boy is allowed to scream and demand and name call and just be nasty to my friend and his sisters. It is clear that he is the king of the house. I cannot even stand to talk on the phone anymore to my friend as I can hear the boy screaming in the background at her or his sisters and he is just nasty. My son, who is 15 months older, spent some time with them over the weekend, and my son came back screaming at me and picking on his siblings horribly. I put an end to that quickly. I do not tolerate it. I do not spank, but I did very quickly tell him no more, took away priviledges and put him on time out.

Let me add, I found out a couple years ago that the dad "spanks" or at least used to, the girls with a belt! I found out because someone called CPS on them and the dad got a lawyer and threw in CPS's face that he whips the girls with the belt and there is nothing they can do about it. Apparently, in our state, that is legal. Yet, same dad thinks his son is wonderful when he screams and breaks things and everything else. Now, the little boy has a nasty injury on him because he was messing with someone he was not supposed to and no one would stop him and he got hurt.

I am afraid to say anything to my friend. She is always so nice to me and my children. My children love her. She does so much for her children, except the obvious that is seriously needed, which is appropriate discipline. But honestly, I do not want my children around that spoiled boy anymore. He was so mean to my son last time we were together. He is complete tyrant and his parents just think he is the sweetest little boy.

I am thinking maybe I just need to distance myself and when/if she asks my opinion, I can try to kindly say something about how the little boy speaks to people. When he was here last time and was being nasty to my children, I told him he was not to speak that way, that in this home, we treat each other with respect. I told him to give back the toy he took from my child too (I gave him one and then my son one just like it so he threw his on the ground and grabbed the one from my son, even though they were the same, and hurt my son in the process) and he refused and stuck his chin up in the air and turned away. So I just walked around to the other side and told him I meant it and took the toy out of his hand, not hurting him, and told him that if he wants to trade toys, he needs to ask and he cannot be hurting people here. My friend just stood there saying nothing. She had such a blank look on her face and she shrugged, so I feel like she just does not care.

What would you do? I think I am just going to distance ourselves. I do not feel comfortable trying to tell another parent how to parent their child, and I am not comfortable with her child treating my children like that and damaging things in my home, and I feel like the mom did not take a hint when I corrected the child in front of her. She didn't seem to mind my correcting him, but I was extremely uncomfortable with correcting someone else's child and he did a lot of stuff like that.

Thank you for your help.
post #2 of 18
It's not about parenting, though. I'd view this as a "natural consequences" lesson. The natural consequence of being mean to people is that they don't want to spend time with you. It sounds like the child and parents need to learn that. I just wouldn't call or email them. I'm not big on making a formal announcement because I think it's natural to drift away from people who aren't kind to you. If she calls to hang out or invite your son over, just say that your son didn't enjoy himself and doesn't want to go. If she presses, I'd go with something like "your son says mean things, and our son just doesn't want to hang out with him."

I've known a couple of families with this view of boys, especially the oldest boy. I've often found that the moms know the problem and don't like it, but they feel powerless to do anything about it.
post #3 of 18
I doubt your friend thinks her son is the "sweetest thing." And call it a hunch, but I would guess that the "blank look" was more of an instinctive fear reaction than a "I don't care" reaction. I can only imagine what your friend's husband would do to her if she acted the same way you did towards her son or her husband. If someone is treated that way long enought, it's hard to break out of it, even if logically you have nothing to fear. (Though a five year old is more than capable of "telling" as well, so it's not that she doesn't have anything to fear.)

I suspect if you enforce your family's rules in your own home it's likely that eventually your friend will be forbidden to have contact with you, esp. if her son tells dad that mom's friend gainsaid him.

What a terribly sad situation for everyone. Mom, because I'm guessing she feels totally worthless and powerless. The girls, because they're being groomed to believe that you can tell someone really loves you when they're jealous and controlling. The boy because he's likely to face some serious consequences in the future.

I would simply enforce your own rules in your own home. I wouldn't expect someone beaten down and who has to live in terror in their own home to react "normally". I might offer quietly, from time to time, that you really care about her and that if she ever needs help you will do what you can to help her. But other than that--you can't force people to leave, you can't browbeat them into seeing their situation (they already live with someone who's far better at it than you'll ever be). The only thing you can do is keep your home a safe space. You make your decisions, she makes hers.
post #4 of 18
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tigerchild View Post
I doubt your friend thinks her son is the "sweetest thing." And call it a hunch, but I would guess that the "blank look" was more of an instinctive fear reaction than a "I don't care" reaction. I can only imagine what your friend's husband would do to her if she acted the same way you did towards her son or her husband. If someone is treated that way long enought, it's hard to break out of it, even if logically you have nothing to fear. (Though a five year old is more than capable of "telling" as well, so it's not that she doesn't have anything to fear.)

I suspect if you enforce your family's rules in your own home it's likely that eventually your friend will be forbidden to have contact with you, esp. if her son tells dad that mom's friend gainsaid him.

What a terribly sad situation for everyone. Mom, because I'm guessing she feels totally worthless and powerless. The girls, because they're being groomed to believe that you can tell someone really loves you when they're jealous and controlling. The boy because he's likely to face some serious consequences in the future.

I would simply enforce your own rules in your own home. I wouldn't expect someone beaten down and who has to live in terror in their own home to react "normally". I might offer quietly, from time to time, that you really care about her and that if she ever needs help you will do what you can to help her. But other than that--you can't force people to leave, you can't browbeat them into seeing their situation (they already live with someone who's far better at it than you'll ever be). The only thing you can do is keep your home a safe space. You make your decisions, she makes hers.
Oh, one time, when they came over for lunch, my husband was doing the dishes. It was my friend, her kids, her sister, and her sisters children, so none of their husbands. They actually raved on and on about how they were shocked to see him doing the dishes because that was womens work. Their own daughters even went on and on about womens work vs mens work. These are not religious people so this is not a religious belief. From the stories my friend has told me of her upbringing, it seems to be a whole family abuse cycle thing. She and her sisters were abused so they married abusers and so on.
post #5 of 18
I guess I'm at a point in my life where I dont have time or a need for friends like that. My DS wouldn't tolerate a 'friend' like her child so my own friendship with her would probably disinegrate rather quickly. The child isn't spoiled IMO, he is neglected by his mother. The rest of the family is controlled by the father. This is a huge dynamic and nothing you do or say is going to change that. That 5 yr old boy isnt going to change his ways at your house or at playdates.

I would just distance myself from them and let the friendship slowly fade away.
post #6 of 18
Yay for your husband doing the dishes. If it was that unusual for them that they went on and on commenting about it, then that scene should stick in their heads. Hopefully it will show them, especially the kids, that there are other ways to run a household and exist in a family then the way they do now.

I don't know how you should deal with the problem with this little boy, he's been put in a bad spot also and clearly can't handle it. I agree that the mom is most likely intimidated by the 5 year old. He's daddy's golden child and she'd likely catch heck from her husband if she scolded him. Too bad for the girls AND the boy for that. Too bad the 'dad' has to be a #$@&%..... but there are lots of those out there.

If you keep on being friends maybe mess with their sexist ideas just for fun and for their benefit. You don't have to say anything just casually do things not gender stereotypical. Learn to fix something on the car and be outside with the car hood up and grease on you when you know they are stopping over. Take up karate and ask if she'd like to join too. I could come up with tons more stuff if I wasn't overtired. Maybe seeing things like that will help them review their own attitudes.
post #7 of 18
My friend's son is a lot like this and she doesn't spoil him, never has. He is very strong willed, has found that he can't be controlled, and he doesn't care about the consequences his mom imposes. He is a hard child to be around whenever his mom is around. I don't know what it is about their relationship, she is gentle and calm while remaining firm about boundaires but he ignores, screams, and even hits her. When she isn't around he is a sweet and loving kid who is fun for my dd and a positive influence. I love having him over and taking him with my dd to places without his mom. Once his mom is in the picture it is all down hill and it totally sucks. I have stopped doing much with her because it is disturbing for my dd to watch and I don't like her seeing that type of behavior from a close friend. I have stopped calling as much also even though I really like my friend because most of our conversation is interupted and she either allows it to happen or stops the conversation to tell him why it is rude to interupt. I really like my friend and when our schedules allow we get together with no kids or I get my dd and him together with no adult friend for me to talk to. You may find that this works for your situation even though it sucks not to be able to talk as often to your close friend.
post #8 of 18
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by One_Girl View Post
My friend's son is a lot like this and she doesn't spoil him, never has. He is very strong willed, has found that he can't be controlled, and he doesn't care about the consequences his mom imposes. He is a hard child to be around whenever his mom is around. I don't know what it is about their relationship, she is gentle and calm while remaining firm about boundaires but he ignores, screams, and even hits her. When she isn't around he is a sweet and loving kid who is fun for my dd and a positive influence. I love having him over and taking him with my dd to places without his mom. Once his mom is in the picture it is all down hill and it totally sucks. I have stopped doing much with her because it is disturbing for my dd to watch and I don't like her seeing that type of behavior from a close friend. I have stopped calling as much also even though I really like my friend because most of our conversation is interupted and she either allows it to happen or stops the conversation to tell him why it is rude to interupt. I really like my friend and when our schedules allow we get together with no kids or I get my dd and him together with no adult friend for me to talk to. You may find that this works for your situation even though it sucks not to be able to talk as often to your close friend.
I have already tried having him alone, but he was still awful, screaming, and demanding. One time, he screamed at his mother "get my _____ woman!" I dont recall what he was asking for, just that he screamed at her for it and called her "woman" He is always like that.

My son actually asked me to cancel our plans for tomorrow because he feels the little boy is a bully and does not want to play with him anymore. So I did cancel.
post #9 of 18
After your last post I'm wondering if the little boy is being used by his dad to abuse and degrade his mom through. What does his dad do when this kid is acting like this? Someone must be teaching him that stuff, either that or he's sure imitating him.

I'm confrontational and not at all shy about letting people know what I think and I don't know your personality, but I know if I did decide to cut off contact I'd be sure to let them know why. I'd say "friend, I like you a lot but your husbands abusive behavior is intolerable and he's clearly training your little boy to be the same way. I feel like I'm watching a trainwreck and I can't look any more. You have my best wishes and I will help in any way when you can see this yourself, but for now we have to have some distance. Your childs behavior is rubbing off on mine and that behavior in my house is not acceptable". Maybe that would help jolt her into the reality of her situation. After some time. She'll likely be mad and defensive at first but that usually changes to reflection at some point.
post #10 of 18
From reading your post, I do not believe that the problem is the little boy at all. He is modelling the behaviour he sees.

Can you get your friend some resources for women's shelters, or the name of a good therapist that deals with domestic violence?

-Melanie
post #11 of 18
I have a friend whose sons and husband don't get along with my kids and husband.

We meet up for dinner at a restaurant that is halfway between our houses. My work schedule is more flexible than my friend's so sometimes I drive to her work and take her a nice lunch. We see each other about 4 times a year.

We meet on neutral territory.

Criticizing the menfolk would mean alienation, and I am not ready to do that. I really value this friendship so I will live my life and honour my ideals, and maintain the relationship even if I can't actually enhance it right now.

It would be lovely to visit them at home, but it isn't going to happen. As families, we are just too different.

I can be a constant in my friend's life without condoning the behaviour of her husband or her sons.
post #12 of 18
I would, personally, just take a step back from the relationship.
post #13 of 18
I think the natural consequences of being horrible to other children, is that your children don't want to play with that child anymore. They should not have to. I think the natural consequences of being a parent that allows her child to behave this way, is that other parents won't want to associate with her anymore. You should not have to hang out with her or tolerate this behavior.

I'd walk away. Sounds like this is so engrained right now that telling your friend the whole truth will only make her defensive or put her in denial. She probably feels trapped. And you can be really sorry about that. But I doubt you can "reveal the light" and she will just change. So I'd walk away. If she asked, I'd say "I am sorry, I valued our friendship. But your son's behavior is just so out of control and abusive, and your inability to do anything about it means that I can not allow my family to be around that. I am really sorry." Let her absorb that. Maybe the relationship will just slowly die. Or maybe later after it sinks in, she will be interested in looking for assistance or help.
post #14 of 18
poor little guy, you can't blame him. he is just learning this behavior from his dad. His mom needs to put her foot down and demand to be treated better at least by her son. If it were my friend I would just ask "why do you let him get away with treating you like that?" I could open a discussion about how men should treat women and weather or not she really wants to continue this way of thinking.
post #15 of 18
Normally my suggestion for difficult children and parents who continue the difficulty (at least, as it appears) is to end the friendship. Logical consequences and all that.

However, this situation includes abuse. More than likely, she needs a friend. I would distance myself only after letting her know that I really care about her and want to help and giving her the chance to decide for herself if she wants the help or not. I'd let her know that I feel her husband is abusive and is teaching her son to be abusive while also teaching her daughters that being abused is normal and that I can't have my family exposed to that learning from it as well. I'd let her know that I want to continue the friendship, but I can't unless something changes. I'd let her know that I'll always be here if she ever needs me... no matter how long its been.

I watched my mom being abused and although I was young, I remember when I was used as a pawn against her. I also remember the hopeless looks she had at the beginning, the fear, and how she'd just submit to the abuse. I was too young to understand, but I definitely remember wanting to HELP her. I remember feeling like she needed something. I couldn't just walk away from someone else in a similar situation. I'd let someone in a similar situation decide for themselves what it is they need from me while giving my boundaries of what I need as well. Abuse changes the dynamics of a difficult relationship and I think requires a different way of handling it.
post #16 of 18
Also if I were to continue to hang out with these people I would not hesitate to stand up to the son. He he were to call his mom "woman" I would sternly tell him that in our house we do not call ladies "woman", we use names. and that in our house it is not ok to speak disrespectfully to anyone especially your mother. Then I would have him repeat his request politely (and give him the words to do it). whats the worst that can happen? She gets mad and leaves....well you are on the verge of that anyway if her sons behavior and attitudes are intolerable. What have you got to lose? She just might learn some parenting and discipline skills from you though.
post #17 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by wednesday2004 View Post
After your last post I'm wondering if the little boy is being used by his dad to abuse and degrade his mom through. What does his dad do when this kid is acting like this? Someone must be teaching him that stuff, either that or he's sure imitating him.
I've seen this happen. It's not even uncommon. I did a daycare interview where the dad would taunt the mom and the son chimed in with actual insults for his mom. The son would say "Hey fat butt" when mom picked him up in the afternoons. (yes, I took the family for a while) He'd say "Make that girl stop touching my *insert object*".

Dad encouraged and taught this to his son, JUST to abuse the mom. Not because he thought it was right. He only thought about keeping mom "in her place"
post #18 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by HappyMommy2 View Post
I would, personally, just take a step back from the relationship.
I agree. I don't see this turning out well for any of you.
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