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#1 of 5 Old 03-28-2012, 07:59 AM - Thread Starter
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Hi everyone,


This is my first post and the reason I have signed up. I don't want to sound like I'm pushing my nose in where it does'nt belong, but as my my thread name mentions, I am very concerned.


A close friend of mine has 3 boys, 7, 4 and -1. The eldest... well, let's just say he's challenging! I've watched him many times, scream (and I mean really scream) at his mother, teachers and even at myself. He becomes agressive and violent at the smallest of things.


My friend has always put it down to his character, but since the birth of the youngest, the middle boy (who up until recently, was  very sweet and polite) is starting to do the exact same thing.


Their mother is an absolutely amazing, caring woman and her husband is great too. The issue I have is that there is no discipline whatsoever. Their father does try, but the mother puts him straight back down (in front of the kids). However, she has made it clear that she is not bothered if I tell him off, in fact she even welcomes it.


I'm no expert, but I have 2 relatively well behaved boys of a similar age and I'm a firm believer that children NEED boundaries and these just don't have any.


Well basically I feel like I'm stuck between a rock and a hard place. Do I just ignore it and leave her be? Or do I mention something, risk offending her and losing a very good friend? I am not alone with this opinion that she will have a real problem with her boys in the future. There are quite a few of her friends who are concerned.


I would really love some advice, and if I do need to mention something, how do I go about it?


Thanks in advance.

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#2 of 5 Old 03-28-2012, 10:15 AM
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I rarely comment on friends' parenting unless they want opinions/advice.  However, it sounds like people talk ABOUT her and you are participating and I would change that ASAP if you want to be a good friend. 


Most moms I know talk pretty openly about parenting topics, so if you do you'd have openings I suppose...  Or maybe you should let her know that someone said something about her, that someone thought she was really bossing her husband an awful lot and you thought she'd want to know someone had said that about her.  You'll probably find out whether she is super-defensive by how she responds withou her directing that all at you.  It might also get her thinking, because she would probably feel embarrassed.  Anyhow, it's probably a good thing as a friend to let her know that others' have talked about her.  You may also want to say you can't remember who said what or who it was BTW.


I may be making assumptions about what you mean by "no discipline".  I don't consider discipline to include punishment generally, I rarely agree with "time outs", etc.  Do you?  I do agree with redirection.  I agree with clear boundaries and stepping in but not to punish.  Do you actually even know what your friend thinks about discipline methods?  You can always bring it up by talking about your own methods, even asking her advice about how to deal kindly with something going on with your own children.  Just to get to know her thoughts.


Your friend's son is probably NOT the way he is because of lack of discipline and I do not think you should assume that.  Your boys may be well-behaved but that doesn't mean it's your doing and that her son's misbehavior comes from her actions/lack of action.  Some children are not "well-behaved" even with great parenting.  Really.  Please be very careful about judging.  Her child may well have some serious problems that really and truly are just the way he is.  Now, he may need help, but parenting advice may very well not be the right kind of help.  And the fact that her second child is imitating brother is not surprising at all no matter the reason for her first son's outbursts.  It could be simple imitation.   


Now, I do have a special needs child.  I did have to restrain him physically sometimes when he was young.  (Usually by wrapping my arms around him--without any intent to cause pain--and just holding firmly and waiting until he could control himself.)   He still acted inappropriately, but also we did not excuse it.  We avoided punishing.  Now we did for instance remove him from the dinner table until everyone else had eaten or he had calmed down if he did not control himself.  And to be honest if a child was screaming in my face out of control I might clap a hand over their mouth and wait for him to calm down or put him in another room until he was able to speak instead.  Different from a time out in that as soon as he is willing to speak without screaming, he was completely welcome to return.  Even now if he escalates a fight with his sister in the kitchen and I ask him to leave it be and he does not, he has to leave the kitchen and wait to have a turn. 


Anyhow, you do not know the cause for your friend's difficulties, so anything you say should be gentle on judging.  You may talk about your experience to be less direct.  Like say that it is hard for you to leave your dh alone when he parents your children and does something differently than you do, but you try not to boss him because the children are listening and it hurts his parenting.  Or you may say you heard of something like the nonviolent restraint I mentioned above, that you thought she might be interested in because she tries to parent gently. 


It sort of sounds like the issue is between her and her husband.  Is she pretty aggressive with him?  It sounds a little mean/controlling from the way you describe, but the description you gave is pretty brief.  Anyhow, be careful and sensitive.  I'd keep it pretty minimal.  If you are close enough you could just let her know you are worried about her, see if you can have a conversation about her challenges as a true sympathizer and wonder if there's a way to get help with her son.  Maybe even professional evaluation. 

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#3 of 5 Old 03-28-2012, 11:12 AM - Thread Starter
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Thanks for the advice littlest birds. Here's a little more information;


BTW Just so it's clear, I try my best not to judge and our friends have all spoken out of concern and all of us are uncertain as to what we should do. The main reason I asked is because I KNOW that both the mother and father are embarrassed by his behaviour and they do complain about how difficult he is. Dad works away a lot and mum really struggles and she leaves the kids at home (with the maid) while she goes out to work


As I mentioned, my friend is amazing and she seems very happy with her husband. She's not nasty or aggressive towards him, just never backs him up (and I've seen this almost every time the father tries to ask the children to do something) for eg. if we go to the park and the kids take off their shoes, dad will tell the kids to go and get them, but then mum will say that dad can go and get them (again, in front of the kids).


I completely agree that some children are difficult and challenging, and I strongly agree that the middle child is mimicking his older brother. I've discussed this with her and we both think that he is acting up because he is jealous of the new addition. His mother is also a full time teacher (with the middle child in her class) so he always has to share his mum. I suggested that she put one hour aside each day for her and her middle child so he can have mummy all to himself.


As far as her views on discipline and such go, she was raised in a very strict family and doesn't want to do that to her kids. Obviously, I'm not perfect, I think I'm sometimes a bit hard on my children, but if any of my kids were to scream and shout at people, I would try to make them understand that what they did was rude and hurtful and they WOULD apologize. For me, shouting, screaming and becoming aggressive over the tiniest things (things like not getting the right flavour juice) is a boundary that should not be crossed.


I know I do sound probably sound judgemental, but I genuinely want to help my friend. I love her to bits and I don't want her falling apart if these behavioural problems get worse.


Thanks again.



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#4 of 5 Old 03-28-2012, 12:56 PM
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I think this is an issue between her and her husband and you should stay out of it. However, if he is yelling at you, I would put boundaries on when and where you choose to see him. I would flatly tell her next time he yelled at you or your children that you will no longer tolerate that and you will be leaving or if they are at your house, ask them to leave. It's not nice to give unsolicited advice, but people generally get the hint that they need to change their behavior when you tighten your own boundaries and they are required to change if they care to have you as a part of their life.

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#5 of 5 Old 03-30-2012, 10:34 AM
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I don't think you can do anything about it.  Your friend very well may have an even tougher time as her kids get older, but it's really not your place to point it out to her.


I do know it's heartbreaking to watch, though. I just went on a 4-day trip with my 3 children and a friend and her two children.  I knew she had difficult, rude children before I went (we used to be neighbors), but I was really shocked at how they acted.  Her son is the same age as my twin boys and he acted like he was 4 years younger.  He threw tantrums, complained constantly, was a know-it-all, refused to help, and bossed his mother around.  Even my boys were shocked at his behavior.  


On our way home from the trip, I thanked my kids for being so helpful and kind during the trip and they volunteered that they found their friend's behavior disturbing.  During the trip, my boys actually tried to coach their friend to have better behavior, but it didn't work of course.   


I know my friend is struggling because she mentioned she was considering counseling for her and her son, and I encouraged her in that.  But I didn't say much more  because she didn't ask for advice. I think she's just in the venting phase, not the reality phase.  I'm not sure she really even understands how bad their relationship is and how inappropriate her son's behavior is (and her older daughter's for that matter).  


I think your role as a friend at this point is just to support her and try to lighten her load if possible.




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