irreconcilable differences with a friend - need closure - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 6 Old 10-27-2010, 05:05 PM - Thread Starter
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This explanation could be really long but I'll try to give the short version. I've known this woman for a few years. We both live overseas and have kids around the same age. We met through our sons who are 3 and 4 (there's a 5 month age diff). As we live overseas we've supported each other a lot, and have always sounded off about issues in our lives when together.

The issue: the boys have a hard time getting along together. The reasons as I see it are: their age, their different personalities and the lack of appropriate supervision/interaction from us. Both boys display behaviour that is totally appropriate for their age. My kids get hurt sometimes, her kids get hurt sometimes. Neither child displays any extreme behaviour. They're normal kids.

What's happened: for months my friend has been making comments about my son and his behaviour and how it's a serious issue. We've sorted skirted around this subject because I suppose I didn't want to outright reject what she was implying but I obviously don't agree with her. Months ago there was an accident when the kids were playing with bricks (yeah - I know!), her kid got hurt and she said that my son had hit hers with a brick (she didn't see this happen) and I hadn't punished him appropriatey. At the time I didn't discuss this with her properly as I didn't want to rock the boat but it made me feel very uneasy. From then on there's been a lot of eye-rolling, tutting, and things implied when it comes to any undesirable behaviour on my son's part. Things came to a head when we joined them on holiday. They were staying in their holiday home and we in a hotel so we all had our own space. One evening we had dinner at their place and it was a nightmare, the kids fought all evening with no other parent than me intervening. At some point in the evening she snapped and basically said she was unwilling to put up with this any longer. The short version is she was fed up of the fighting, it was all my son's fault, and mine for not disciplining him properly, and if I didn't do something about it our friendship would end. I kept my calm through all this and didn't really contradict anything as there was already enough stress with the kids fighting etc. The next day I tried to talk to her about how my son's behaviour is a reaction to hers and that she had to intervene sometimes etc, she rejected everything I said. For the rest of the holiday I kept my son on a tight rein and no incidents instigated by him took place, meanwhile her son continued to lash out at my son, throw sand at him, splash him in the sea, spit at him and try to ruin games that my son was playing with the younger children. I was left feeling extremely frustrated.

When we got back home I decided that although our friendship would never be the same unless she tried to make amends, I was willing to continue to be friendly for everyone else's sake. After a week had elapsed I sent her a friendly email and she replied saying that she was unwilling to meet up with the kids again as she was fed up of her kids being at the receiving end of treatment that was unfair especially when they were being physically hurt by my son and I was not doing anything effective about it. She added that she'd be willing to meet me alone for a drink or a coffee ie to continue our friendship. Well I was so exasperated, I just basically said how unfairly we'd been judged and criticised and that I was unwilling to accept this behaviour from a friend unless she wanted to try to make amends. I was as nice as I could be about this and I have all along avoided judgement statements. I simply stated things as I've understood them and told her how I felt about them. She immediately became nasty and tried to turn everything around to make me look like the one in the wrong even though I feel I've been a lot nicer about this than a lot of people would have been.

How I feel right now: I did the right thing. I'm proud of myself for defending myself and my son. BUT I can't stop thinking about this. I can't believe she's making this all my fault. I suppose I'm holding onto a lot of anger about this. There are a lot of things that I haven't said. I don't want to contact her again as I know I won't get anywhere with that apart from more of the same. I don't know how to just let this go in my mind.
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#2 of 6 Old 10-27-2010, 05:17 PM
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Originally Posted by lovesea View Post
After a week had elapsed I sent her a friendly email and she replied saying that she was unwilling to meet up with the kids again as she was fed up of her kids being at the receiving end of treatment that was unfair especially when they were being physically hurt by my son and I was not doing anything effective about it. She added that she'd be willing to meet me alone for a drink or a coffee ie to continue our friendship.
Sorry, I have lost a friend with this same issue. Her kid was the bully and my kid was always getting the blows. She insisted that we should let the kids "tough it out together". Great, but my kid was always getting bruised up. I did offer to meet her sans kids because we had a lot of hobbies in common but she couldn't accept that. We never spoke again. It was a huge loss because our hubbies were friends, too.
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#3 of 6 Old 10-27-2010, 05:55 PM
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i would try to get together just you and your friend, no kids. i would try and see if there's any reason to try and save the friendship, if you two are really that close, and if you have enough in common to try and staying friends. if you get halfway through the dinner (or whatever) and think "what am i doing??" or if she won't let go of the stuff between hers and your kids... then forget it. maybe just let it dissolve.

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#4 of 6 Old 10-28-2010, 04:21 AM
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That's tough.

I've been in a similar situation -- also overseas, kids around the same age -- and our friendship ended for a time over it. We've since "gotten back together" now that the boys are older, but we really try to limit their time together as they either get along really well or can't stand each other. It's easier now, though, because both kids are in school, so we can meet up without them.

From my perspective, her son was the one causing the problems (he's since been diagnosed with ADHD) and she wasn't intervening or doing anything to keep him in line. From her perspective, "about 50%" of the problems stemmed from her son.

For me, it wasn't as much her son's behavior that was the problem as what I saw as the lack of intervention/discipline on her part. I felt my son always got the short end of the stick. If I had to do it again, I would have gently intervened much earlier instead of waiting for her to do it.

Be that as it may, I think it's really really hard as a parent to see any of this clearly. I'm not saying your kid *is* to blame! Usually this stuff is somewhere in the middle. I think what you could do, if you want to salvage this friendship (and what i wish I'd done), is have a talk without the kids and say, "What are you seeing? what would you want us both to do in this situation?" Alternately, just try to meet up without the kids.

Hang in there. This stuff is hard.
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#5 of 6 Old 10-28-2010, 03:37 PM - Thread Starter
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Thanks everyone for taking the time to reply, I appreciate it.

We've gone beyond the stage where we can get together and talk this through now and it is no longer about the boys' relationship and behaviour. I haven't talked too much about the kids' behaviour here because this is not about the kids now.

I hope I don't come across as the type of mother who has a bullying kid but refuses to accept or acknowledge it. I have tried to put myself in her shoes. I have observed my son with other kids, I've spoken to the psychologist at his pre-school and I've supervised him closely since she seemed to be so bothered by him. And nothing I've observed has made me think he's anything other than normal. The psychologist even said he was a shy, passive child who avoided boisterous play and had made friends with quieter kids. I have apologised and intervened every time there's been an incident that I've been aware of. She has refused to accept, or acknowledge her own child's undesirable behaviour. She actually seems to be annoyed by my son doing the usual quirky 3-4 year old things like hiding under a blanket and refusing to say 'hello'.

I felt that the only way to maintain my dignity was to tell her I was unwilling to accept her attitude and when I did in as nice a way as possible she started getting quite hostile. The relationship is over. I just want to find a way to close the door on it in my own mind. I want to be at the stage where I can bump into her at a party and smile and wish her well without all this negativity that I have inside me.
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#6 of 6 Old 10-30-2010, 10:13 PM
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It's normal for relationships to evolve and sometimes end. We learn and become better.

This helps me: It's impossible for everyone to like one another, there are too many different personalities, experiences, and perspectives.

You know in your heart that you have done all you could, including looking at your own child's behavior as objectively as possible, the rest is up to her and she obviously isn't in the same place that you are.

Believe me, you will think about it less and less over time as the hurt fades. You will also make a great friend to someone new.

Wife to dh, Mommy to ds1 12/2002, ds2 9/2005, and ds3 9/2008.
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