Different parenting styles & feeling defensive... - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 21 Old 09-11-2012, 12:39 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I'm a little uncomfortable even posting this, like I'm somehow betraying my friend, but I really need a neutral perspective on this.

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. greensad.gif 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.

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#2 of 21 Old 09-11-2012, 01:44 PM
 
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Even with my friends that are generally laid back, we have the issue sometimes of parents overstepping bounds. Usually one of us says, well, maybe the boys need a break from playing together for a while, and we do, and when we meet back up, we try to stage it on neutral territory. Because kids and parents all have moments. But if it's honestly a parenting style you can't get along with, why don't you ask her out to coffee or something as  MNO (or afternoon) and discuss it then - she might not realize what she's doing, or may have legit concerns, but if either way, try to do it together.

 

I have friends I get along with whose parenting style is completely alien to me. But we generally don't do playdates (this is intentional on I'm sure both our parts LOL) but we can still enjoy each other as people.


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#3 of 21 Old 09-11-2012, 02:55 PM
 
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Personally, I wouldn't bother bringing it up with her.  It's such a touchy subject at the best of times and whose to say in a year or two she might have got over it or your kids, being more mature, may play together better. 

 

  I have had the odd issue like this in the past with friends, as I had a large, huggy girl who was a lot more physical and not everyone (or their kids) could handle that (which is fair enough).  I just ended up backing away from playdates where I felt like it wasn't working or was stressful, but maintained the friendship.   The thing is your DS is REALLy young and needs to be cut some slack.  I agree with you she needs to chill out - a 3.5 year old isn't a bully, they're just clueless.   I'm also bothered by the fact she seems to be unaware of her own child's limitations - unfortunately some parents just are unable to do this and that makes it very difficult for the other parent.    Back. Away. From the playdate.

 

That's my advice, fwiw. 

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#4 of 21 Old 09-11-2012, 05:41 PM
 
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Could you kind of say to your son the message you actually want your friend to receive? its a bit passive aggressive, but im not a confrontational person and other people reprimanding my kid (if there arent major safety issues involved) is a pet peeve of mine.

 

Friend: Oh no! You scratched M! thats not nice, we dont scratch our friends, say you're sorry please!

 

You: Oh ds, you scratched M? that must have been an accident, dont worry. Lets see if M is hurt...oh M, you're ok? Great, you guys were having fun playing tag so go ahead and keep playing!

 

Friend: you took that toy from M! and now M's upset. Friends share toys, so please give it back.

 

You: oh ds, M took that toy from you and you snatched it back. I know its hard when friends take the toy we were playing with, but next time try to use your words "please give me back my toy now"  Is everyone ok? Great, have fun!

 

It might mean YOU have to kind of micromanage your friend's interaction with your son for awhile but hopefully she would get the point.

 

Personally, i would find this whole thing to be kind of stressful. We went shopping with a couple we know and their older kids and i swear to god every five mins her kids were trying to tell my kids what to do, or "tattling" to me about some thing my kids (who were maybe 3) were doing (like not walking RIGHT near my cart but wandering a bit in the same aisle, or touching stuff on the shelves, like paper products or other nonbreakables...none of which i had a problem with) after awhile you have to ask yourself if its worth it.


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#5 of 21 Old 09-11-2012, 07:22 PM
 
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Tell her you want your son to learn to regulate his own behavior, and that you want to wait to see whether there is any conflict before you wade in and intervene. You can give her a compliment like, "Since we have such a good time playing with M, we think this is a good venue for him to learn to share and to play gently. I'm going to observe and be available if there's a problem, but I think the two of them are doing really well." 

 

And then duct tape her to the park bench so she can't get up and make her discuss the US presidential election. 

 

I'm sure if you express it as a parenting goal, she will try to make an effort to stop. She's probably worried that you're neglecting your kid's behavior and overcompensating. If you tell her that there is a method to your madness, maybe she'll be able to chill. 


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#6 of 21 Old 09-11-2012, 11:21 PM
 
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how important are they in your life.

 

even best friends sometimes stay apart because their kids are having a hard time. that time passes and then you get back together again. 

 

yes it seems you ARE being judged.

 

i'd say start reducing the playdates. 

 

i am not sure how you can resolve this in a kind way. i cant imagine how you would even approach this topic. 

 

and you need to handle this soon or things are going to blow up if u let this fester.

 

i could totally see a similar post here from her complaining about you over things you have written. she is such a laid back person, doesnt even discipline her own son. most of the times her son IS good, but somedays... woo huey... the other day he even SCRATCHED my son and "I" had to talk to him about it. she just sits there and does nothing. 

 

both of you are miserable.

 

sorry mama - it seems less time might be the easiest option right now. not the best i know.  gloomy.gif

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#7 of 21 Old 09-12-2012, 08:45 AM
 
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i have a bf like you describe, and i just don't do playdates with her. we do coffee with no kids. her son is the same age as one of my girls, and at her 8th birthday party, his mom and grandmother followed him around, staring at his every move, while all the other kids ran around playing. very weird! i commented that we were just letting them all play for now until things got started, but they "enjoy watching him play." we've been bff since the late 80's but our parenting is certainly different, even though we both were homeschooling.


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#8 of 21 Old 09-12-2012, 09:09 AM
 
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Originally Posted by crunchy_mommy View Post

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.

 

It sounds like your parenting style is the one that changed (which is fine!), so maybe give her some time to get used to it. She's probably wondering why you don't intervene the way you used to. At the age your kids are (3.5 and 4), I think it's understandable that some parents would still be very involved while others would be more hands-off -- that transition is one that takes time, and doesn't happen at the same time for everyone. 

 

I agree with captain optimism about telling her that you've adopted a new parenting strategy. Once she realizes it's a conscious choice and not just you checking out and leaving her to handle all the discipline, she might relax about it. 


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#9 of 21 Old 09-12-2012, 09:14 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Thank you all. I appreciate the validation & ideas. I talked to DH a lot about this last night (he was feeling similarly upset/protective of DS). The thing is, she is really one of the best friends I have ever had, and our kids adore each other. So I don't think it's best for anyone involved to back off from the playdates (and seeing each other sans kids would be virtually impossible I think). I am not willing to lose this friendship.
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i could totally see a similar post here from her complaining about you over things you have written. she is such a laid back person, doesnt even discipline her own son. most of the times her son IS good, but somedays... woo huey... the other day he even SCRATCHED my son and "I" had to talk to him about it. she just sits there and does nothing. 
YES! This is exactly what concerns me, that we are both feeling upset & resentment over this, but for opposite reasons. I absolutely can see her point of view on this, I just don't agree with it. We are doing opposite things but for the same reason (to do better than our own parents did). So I understand too where her need to hover arises from. I think we each see the dangers in the other's parenting approach and are losing sight of our common ground.

One thing that came to light when I was talking to DH about this is that I do want DS to have authentic relationships with the adults in his life. I trust the adults in his life (my friend included) to be safe with him, to look out for him, to have his best interests at heart, etc. So maybe this is just more of an issue about feeling judged. I guess it is something I may need to figure out how to gently broach with her, feel her out & try to better understand her actual feelings (vs. just what I perceive those feelings to be, which may be inaccurate).

I guess I was under the delusion that if my friends were all on the same page with a few key issues, these other little differences wouldn't matter, but I guess they really can get in the way. redface.gif

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#10 of 21 Old 09-12-2012, 09:18 AM - Thread Starter
 
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It sounds like your parenting style is the one that changed (which is fine!), so maybe give her some time to get used to it. She's probably wondering why you don't intervene the way you used to. At the age your kids are (3.5 and 4), I think it's understandable that some parents would still be very involved while others would be more hands-off -- that transition is one that takes time, and doesn't happen at the same time for everyone. 

I agree with captain optimism about telling her that you've adopted a new parenting strategy. Once she realizes it's a conscious choice and not just you checking out and leaving her to handle all the discipline, she might relax about it. 

Ahh I didn't really think of it that way. I don't feel like my parenting style has changed, just that it has become more possible for DS to be safe and happy at a distance from me as he gets older, so I can more easily live out the style of parenting I have always preferred? But I can see why she might think it has changed. I guess I expected her to back off more as the kids got older & more capable and independent. So I feel caught off-guard that she is still the same as she was when her DS was a baby. Hmm.

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#11 of 21 Old 09-12-2012, 09:22 AM
 
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I guess I expected her to back off more as the kids got older & more capable and independent. So I feel caught off-guard that she is still the same as she was when her DS was a baby. Hmm.

 

I can understand that. Is her 4-year-old her oldest/only child? I know with my DS (my first-born) I was definitely more protective for a longer period of time than I was with my DD. I just think 4 is a reasonable age for parents to still be figuring out the boundaries. Over the next year or two she'll likely come more around to your way of doing things -- 4 is just on the cusp of that for some people. 


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#12 of 21 Old 09-12-2012, 09:23 AM
 
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Could you kind of say to your son the message you actually want your friend to receive? its a bit passive aggressive, but im not a confrontational person and other people reprimanding my kid (if there arent major safety issues involved) is a pet peeve of mine.

 

Friend: Oh no! You scratched M! thats not nice, we dont scratch our friends, say you're sorry please!

 

You: Oh ds, you scratched M? that must have been an accident, dont worry. Lets see if M is hurt...oh M, you're ok? Great, you guys were having fun playing tag so go ahead and keep playing!

 

Friend: you took that toy from M! and now M's upset. Friends share toys, so please give it back.

 

You: oh ds, M took that toy from you and you snatched it back. I know its hard when friends take the toy we were playing with, but next time try to use your words "please give me back my toy now"  Is everyone ok? Great, have fun!

I don't really see that as passive aggresive. I would do that kind of thing. It lets ds know he is being understood and explains his perspective to the friend that is misinterpreting him. And it lets the friend know you are paying attention to their interactions so she doesn't need to over compensate or intervene as much as she thinks.


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#13 of 21 Old 09-12-2012, 11:53 AM
 
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Be candid with your friend. Tell her how you feel. She may or may not like it, but its good to be honest, and you can be honest in a nice way. You may have to have play dates with someone else for awhile.

 

I have a 4 year old, and the kids that play here are her age give or take a year, and I let them solve their own problems, and only intervene when things start getting violent, or there is name calling. Even with name calling its just a quick "Hey, solve it without name calling!" They police themselves pretty well for the most part, and I dont think they could have learned that if we hovered over them all the time. 


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#14 of 21 Old 09-12-2012, 12:17 PM
 
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i see both sides. On one hand I would honestly be really annoyed if another kid scratched my 3.5 year old and the mom either didn't do anything or said something nasty like 'oh, little kid, you're fine, don't let your mom make a big deal out of it'. It would be a pain to see myself as the only one at the playdate who disciplines the children in any way.On the other hand I see where you're coming from. It would be stressful to watch another mom hover over the kids and make a big deal out of every little thing. I agree with other, maybe a break from playdates for awhile. 

 

Can you elaborate on how she is 'verbally disciplining' your son? If she is being mean then that's one thing but if she's just someone who feels that every second is a teaching moment and is constantly correcting kids then that's a different thing, she probably means well.

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#15 of 21 Old 09-12-2012, 03:46 PM - Thread Starter
 
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i see both sides. On one hand I would honestly be really annoyed if another kid scratched my 3.5 year old and the mom either didn't do anything or said something nasty like 'oh, little kid, you're fine, don't let your mom make a big deal out of it'.
Even if it was a complete accident? Genuinely curious here... I can see saying something if it was intentional or he was being too rough, but he was just trying to tag M during a (mutual, fun) game of chase, and his fingernail accidentally brushed across M. I guess I just don't see the point in disciplining accidents -- in fact I find it to be kind of shame-inducing, same as reprimanding your kid for accidentally spilling their drink...
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Can you elaborate on how she is 'verbally disciplining' your son? If she is being mean then that's one thing but if she's just someone who feels that every second is a teaching moment and is constantly correcting kids then that's a different thing, she probably means well.
Oh no, she's not being mean at all, just gently correcting him. I know she means well and really cares about my DS.
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I can understand that. Is her 4-year-old her oldest/only child? I know with my DS (my first-born) I was definitely more protective for a longer period of time than I was with my DD. I just think 4 is a reasonable age for parents to still be figuring out the boundaries. Over the next year or two she'll likely come more around to your way of doing things -- 4 is just on the cusp of that for some people. 
Yes, M is her only, I do think that is a big part of it.

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#16 of 21 Old 09-12-2012, 04:07 PM
 
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I'm Miss Bossy Pants. I boss people around. It's been my nature my whole life. In my opinion the best thing to do is let your son find out that some people are micro-managey and fuss budgets. It will make him appreciate you more. :)

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#17 of 21 Old 09-12-2012, 06:40 PM
 
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RKoM, I think I'm just following you around the boards liking your posts today.  LOL.  I have to agree, this is certainly an option.  I think our kids learn a great deal from how we respond to others, and it is useful for them to know that not everyone is like their parents.

 

Crunchy, I have a friend very much like your friend... she micromanages to the point that it occasionally stresses me out because she is giving instructions for every single things her kids do and a lot of it is negative.  A constant stream of words.  She doesn't have much to say about DD (although she's made a few zingers here and there where I was like, "Did you really just say that about my kid, in front of my kid??"), so it is a bit easier to ignore, but she has definitely said things in the past that led me to believe she was judging me or other moms she thinks aren't as "on" as her.  Like that she thinks other parents are lazy or let their kids get away with things she would never let her kids get away with.  I usually would affirm that she has to raise her kids how she believes is right, and that everyone is just trying to do that.

 

As I've gotten a little more confident about my parenting style, I do feel less judged, because I am able to remember that those things she says are really about her and not about me.  Even the micromanaging was less stressful for me to be around because I would remember that was not about me and DD and that even if our parenting styles were different she did love her kids and they did seem happy with the way things were.  I have distanced myself from her lately, mostly because I find it stressful to be around her.  But if it was important to me to maintain the depth of the friendship, I'd try to focus on remembering that you are both trying to do your best for your kids and if she is judging you it is not about you, it is about her.

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#18 of 21 Old 09-12-2012, 09:27 PM
 
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One thing that came to light when I was talking to DH about this is that I do want DS to have authentic relationships with the adults in his life. I trust the adults in his life (my friend included) to be safe with him, to look out for him, to have his best interests at heart, etc. So maybe this is just more of an issue about feeling judged. I guess it is something I may need to figure out how to gently broach with her, feel her out & try to better understand her actual feelings (vs. just what I perceive those feelings to be, which may be inaccurate).

crunchy your dh is a wise man. 

 

i think the key is both of you looking at each other as mom's who are trying to parent in their own way but really its about love and safety for their child. 

 

this is half the battle won. 

 

however i hope you get the right opportunity to gently talk to her. coz right now what you have shared is NOT a good starting point to communication. if you say when i see you disciplining my child when he did it by accident i feel hurt and judged. that would not be a good sentence because she might say when i see my child hurt by your child i am mad at you for not doing anything about it. even if it was an accident you still needed to say something, or at least acknowledge that my son was hurt. i dont need you to discipline your son, i just want acknowledgement that you saw and did something about it - even if its a gentle reminder to be careful. - or something like that. 

 

i would do lots and lots and lots of roleplays with your dh before you go talk to her. 

 

honestly i am all for communication - as long as blame is not involved. where you really come from a place to know how she feels and how to clear things up. no one is right or wrong here. that would be the best thing and further strengthen your relationship. it is doable but really hard.

 

good luck. 


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#19 of 21 Old 09-13-2012, 07:19 AM
 
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I agree with Queen Jane and in general the comments being made about differing parenting styles. I wouldn't say anything to her right out as it might strain your relationship. Why not lessen the play times together. And incorporate some of the suggestions re how to explain to your little fellow the way to say sorry. Sounds as if he is not getting much of a chance to learn how to say sorry etc so it might be good to move along into a new relationship with other children.

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#20 of 21 Old 09-13-2012, 08:16 AM
 
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I wouldn't sit down and have a talk with her because I'm afraid it would hurt more than it will help. This might very well naturally get better as the kids improve.

Now, when similar things have happened to me, I've kind of interjected, but in a kind voiced way. Like, "Oh, yes, Sophia accidentally scratched him but she was trying to catch him for his game. It wasn't on purpose. I'll have to cut her nails so she doesn't accidentally scratch people so easily." And, "Oh, Michael had taken the ball from Sophia and she had just taken it back from him. Maybe we should take the ball away right now if it's causing problems." I guess what I'm saying is I woudln't necessarily stand back and not do anything, but you can get involved with a kind gentle voice and it might improve things rather than make things worse.

But as they get older she'll eventually back off some too. I think all parents stop hovering at some point. It's more a question of when they think it's appropriate, not if they think it's appropriate ever. Your disagreement is probably more about when. She still sees them as little enough where you have to stay right on top of them, and you see them as having grown past that. I'm one to step back earlier too, so I'd be on your side if we had our kids playing together, but I don't know if the two of you are as far apart as it might feel like you are at the moment.
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#21 of 21 Old 09-13-2012, 08:24 AM
 
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Originally Posted by mamazee View Post

I wouldn't sit down and have a talk with her because I'm afraid it would hurt more than it will help. This might very well naturally get better as the kids improve.
Now, when similar things have happened to me, I've kind of interjected, but in a kind voiced way. Like, "Oh, yes, Sophia accidentally scratched him but she was trying to catch him for his game. It wasn't on purpose. I'll have to cut her nails so she doesn't accidentally scratch people so easily." And, "Oh, Michael had taken the ball from Sophia and she had just taken it back from him. Maybe we should take the ball away right now if it's causing problems." I guess what I'm saying is I woudln't necessarily stand back and not do anything, but you can get involved with a kind gentle voice and it might improve things rather than make things worse.
But as they get older she'll eventually back off some too. I think all parents stop hovering at some point. It's more a question of when they think it's appropriate, not if they think it's appropriate ever. Your disagreement is probably more about when. She still sees them as little enough where you have to stay right on top of them, and you see them as having grown past that. I'm one to step back earlier too, so I'd be on your side if we had our kids playing together, but I don't know if the two of you are as far apart as it might feel like you are at the moment.

 

Oh yes, I'm not advocating being a doormat when dealing with a Miss Bossy Pants. Stand up for yourself and your kid. :)


My advice may not be appropriate for you. That's ok. You are just fine how you are and I am the right kind of me.

rightkindofme is offline  
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