DS (3.5) has a really good friend we'll call "M" (4 years). They play really well together. I'm also very close with M's mom, she's one of my best friends.
We used to parent very similarly but as DS has gotten older I've slowly become more laid back/uninvolved as he has gained social confidence, and my friend has remained almost hyper-involved or anxious or something. She is frequently hovering, checking in with M, basically trying to protect M I guess... and I understand that desire, I'm just more of a don't-interfere-unless-someone's-really-getting-hurt kind of parent, I feel like adult involvement in children's play can limit & stifle it. I guess even though I don't agree with what I view as "helicoptering," I can look past that. But I am struggling with feeling like I'm being judged (as lazy/too laid-back/something??) by not hovering, by encouraging the kids to work things out themselves, by giving them space to socialize their own way, etc.
And the other/related issue going on is... she is verbally (and gently) disciplining my DS... which I am OK with -- or at least was, when they were younger... but I guess I'm becoming less OK with it. In particular I feel like she's always on guard with DS, that she has some basic assumption about him that he is aggressive or a mean kid or something! And he's not. He's socially awkward sometimes but he's doing well overall. I don't feel like she gives him chances to make mistakes, and she seems overly protective of M or something. Like the kids were playing chase and he reached out to catch M & accidentally scratched him, and M's mom reprimanded my DS about not scratching. It was a total accident! Or M took a toy from DS, and DS took it back, and M screamed, so my friend reprimanded DS for taking the toy. She didn't realize that M had taken the toy in the first place, but this kind of thing happens over & over. While she's talking to my DS about something not remotely dangerous, M is pushing another friend over. I just feel really frustrated that she seems to be so on guard against DS but totally oblivious to what M is doing. Kind of like an attitude that M is so well-behaved and DS is a bully or something. To be fair, M is really well-behaved & mature, but I don't think DS is a bully at all, he rarely hurts his friends. Honestly most of what she intervenes with is preemptive, and any actual aggression is either defensive actions or, more often, purely accidental. We don't have any issues with any of DS's other friends' parents needing to 'protect' their kids from DS so I don't think it's that I'm just not seeing how terrible he is!
So I just feel pretty rotten, like I'm being seen as a bad parent & DS is being seen as a bad kid. I love my friend and M and we all get along great in every other way... I just don't know how to address this, or if I even should. I don't want to spend less time with them but I'm feeling pretty badly sometimes after we do spend time together.