A friend whose child hits. - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 10 Old 07-20-2012, 01:47 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I have a friend (J) who has similarly aged boys (mine are 3 and 6, hers are 2.5 and 6). We get along great, she is easy to be around when it's just the two of us (which is rare, so we hardly ever see each other). 2 years ago I stopped hanging around she and her boys when our youngest were babes because her older son hit my son every time we were together. It seemed he had it out for my son for some reason, and the last event of her son hitting mine in the back with a toy guitar (they were each 4 at the time) as he leaned over to examine something which left a bruise on his spine that lasted over a week and hurt his feelings so badly that he brought it up for over a year. That was the final straw and I felt I had failed him for letting it get to that point. I avoided her at first, and at her pressing told her that her son had hurt my son too many times and my son was afraid to be around hers (true) and asked to no longer see him (true). I said I would still like to see her, but without the kids (we are both SAHMs with rare time away so...).  She became very very defensive, said she had never heard such a thing about her son. Ever. I knew that wasn't true because the first time she and her husband and kids came to our house for dinner they were reeling over someone telling them their son had been violent (a word she rejected and it did seem a strong word to describe a FOUR year old) and they needed to know about it.  They were so angry and upset and just couldn't believe it. Said NO WAY. I had also asked someone I knew was a mutual friend what her experience was and our mutual friend said she no longer had HER children around the boy because of hitting issues. So, I knew she was in denial. I tried to remind her of the event she had told be about but she said that was something completely different, that my son hung out with girls too much and that his best guy friend was so feminine he was almost a girl. Nice.  It took she and her husband months to talk to me or my husband again -- we had been talking weekly previously.  When we did see each other again at a social function, she and her husband said it must have been a dynamic problem between our sons. I didn't see a need to get into any more, so I said "sure." 

Which leads to the present. This friend (J)  made a new friend with similarly aged children and I met this new friend, L, through her.  We were at the water park a few weeks ago all together (me keeping my kids from hers but not being obvious or obnoxious about it -- she didn't even notice. Luckily both of my kids are more proficient in the water so were in a different zone most of the time, and my son STILL avoids hers on his own anyhow) and I saw J's younger son, who is now 2.75, slapping and jumping on L's son who is a very tiny 4 year old with some sensory issues in the corner of the pool on the top step. I was out in the middle of the pool with my boys and yelled to L because she was sitting with her daughters and talking to J and hadn't noticed.  L's son got out of the water, sobbing, and tried to run away but J's son kept at him, trying to get close again. It was really hard to watch. J just sat and watched it, very casually. L asked her to get her son, and J told L she was being over dramatic, they're just kids. L was upset, her son was upset, it was sad.  Later, L asked me if I had seen all of it and I said yes. She said she couldn't believe J had said that to her and I briefly told her my experience, expressing that J had become defensive and completely denied everything. L ended up writing J a letter about it which she described as kind (I didn't read it so I can't be certain but L is a very thoughtful person -- not the type to lie). I know she was very nervous  about the reaction of J --  ANYWAY ---  sorry for the ramble ---  L told me J became defensive, called her an as--ole and that her kids were crybabies, etc.  Then cut off all ties.

Part of me thinks I should just stay out of the entire thing, and part of me really wants to help a friend and her sons. I can't imagine denial is good, I worry about the boys becoming bullies as they grow up. Maybe I'm putting too much into it, but I hate to sit here and stay out of it when there might be something good I can do to help.  I'm willing to risk our friendship to do it, because it seems if approaching her in a very kind way kills our friendship then we didn't have much of one to begin with. And this entire thing makes her sound awful, but she has a lot of very lovely things about her, just to be clear she isn't a jerk in general.  Ideas? I'd appreciate any suggestions or been-there-done-that stories or even to hear from parents of hitters on how you managed to open up if you hadn't realized or were in denial.

Thanks for reading this entire monologue! GAH! :)

 

edited to add: L contacted me to tell me how the conversation went down because my name came up and she wanted to tell me she didn't bring it up, that J had deduced we must have been talking about her so she wanted me to know in case J brought it up to me.


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#2 of 10 Old 07-20-2012, 05:17 PM
 
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I think the level you are involved now is enough and suggest not going further. This lady has had a lot of feedback and plenty of time yo get over being defensive so I think she is one of those people who have no problem with kids being violent with each other. She sounds like a bully and I would cut off all contact at the drop of a hat because the situation can only get more toxic
Her kids will probably grow out of hurting others without your involvement, most kids were violent when I was a kid and most of us grew out of it.
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#3 of 10 Old 07-20-2012, 09:31 PM
 
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In the briefest way possible, I would clearly tell her that your children can no longer be around hers; that as a mother you cannot put your children in harms way intentionally.  I wouldn't just keep avoiding her or maybe one day try again.  For some people, seeing a blunt consequence of their actions can help, and one can only hope it might strike J that, wow, my children and I are now losing friendships over this.. maybe it really IS an issue.  If I were feeling particularly unfriendly, I might blurt out something like, it is very irresponsible as a parent to knowingly allow your children to hurt others- physically and emotionally.  Maybe hoping she'll see that it's not just about your personal preferences of behavior, but that it is fundamentally wrong.  But that might be a bit much...


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#4 of 10 Old 07-21-2012, 10:48 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I have told her that I won't be around her kids anymore, a few years ago. The pool day was more of a fluke than a plan. I appreciate the input, and I do think it may be time to call it quits. I can't help to feel a cowardly or lazy person, though. Maybe I'm a go-out-guns-ablaze kinda gal or something (kidding). I hope her kids do grow out of it.


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#5 of 10 Old 07-21-2012, 10:51 PM - Thread Starter
 
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But on a societal level, don't I have some responsibility? It takes a village, right? Gah, it's such an internal struggle for me.


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#6 of 10 Old 07-22-2012, 01:17 AM
 
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It doesn't sound like she is  open  to hearing what you have to say, at this time.

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#7 of 10 Old 07-22-2012, 03:36 AM
 
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Hang out with L.  Continue to keep your kids and J's apart as you have.  If she brings it up tell her frankly that the recent thing you WITNESSED was the 3rd time to your knowledge that her kids have been aggressive and someone else has tried to talk to her about it and she is clearly not interested in hearing it so you don't want to talk about it further because it only seems to lead to upset and not solve anything.  I don't think she (J) will bring it up, she already knows how you feel.

 

In the pool scenario if i were you i'd have done what you did, if i were L i would have shouted TO THE CHILD that they needed to leave my kid alone.  I never appeal to other parents in the moment.  I have had mixed reactions to that  when i've done it with other kids.  Some parents correct their kid when they see what is happening, some try to correct ME and i tell them "you want to be the parent here feel FREE!" and walk away.  It does take a village but if you're not watching your kid and won't step in when they are out of line you kind of have to expect that other people will eventually step in and then avoid your family.

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#8 of 10 Old 07-22-2012, 12:48 PM
 
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Originally Posted by GoBecGo View Post

Hang out with L.  Continue to keep your kids and J's apart as you have.  If she brings it up tell her frankly that the recent thing you WITNESSED was the 3rd time to your knowledge that her kids have been aggressive and someone else has tried to talk to her about it and she is clearly not interested in hearing it so you don't want to talk about it further because it only seems to lead to upset and not solve anything.  I don't think she (J) will bring it up, she already knows how you feel.

 

In the pool scenario if i were you i'd have done what you did, if i were L i would have shouted TO THE CHILD that they needed to leave my kid alone.  I never appeal to other parents in the moment.  I have had mixed reactions to that  when i've done it with other kids.  Some parents correct their kid when they see what is happening, some try to correct ME and i tell them "you want to be the parent here feel FREE!" and walk away.  It does take a village but if you're not watching your kid and won't step in when they are out of line you kind of have to expect that other people will eventually step in and then avoid your family.

 

Ha, I do that too.   

 

to the OP: Your ex-friend sounds like a developing "my child can do no wrong" type and you have done exactly the right thing in avoiding her.  I briefly had a 'friend' like that, I dumped her.  I don't think you need to do anythng more than you've already done - as far as "it takes a village goes" you've already made it very clear her kids' behaviour was unacceptable and she ignored it.  She may or may not get it in the end, but it's out of your hands. 

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#9 of 10 Old 07-22-2012, 12:54 PM
 
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Luckily, you have L and her kids to hang out with!

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#10 of 10 Old 07-24-2012, 10:11 AM
 
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Maybe I'm putting too much into it, but I hate to sit here and stay out of it when there might be something good I can do to help.  

aaaaaah help. you know it can also be a v. dirty word. in trying to help we can make things worse. 

 

i am not sure why you feel you can do anything. 

 

in two years she has not learnt anything. you even cut off connections with her. L wrote her a letter and is cutting off connections with her. what else does one need to do get her to 'see'. 

 

what is the saying - 'God helps those who help themselves'. the key here is not god but the idea that the first step needs to come from the person itself - not others. 

 

if we were able to help others like that there would be much lesser sad and unhappy people. 

 

we had hitters in our playgroup too. and rough huggers. for some it was a sensory issue. but teh moms were right THERE keeping a close eye on their child coz they knew they were hitters. at that age too we stopped playdates with a close friend of mine coz my dd was in the screaming phase adn her son was in the sensitive hearing phase. when we tried a year later the tables had turned and he screamed too much for dd. then they moved away :( the separation was mutual with no hard feelings. 

 

i can so relate to you a need to help. but lets be realistic. help where your efforts will be appreciated - not wasted. that need to help can really cause us some huge heart aches - because really it has everything to do with fulfilling our need as opposed to it being just about that person. 


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