Saturday, February 14, 2009

Hi Truth Teller~

I am visiting your site from the link on Angie Ledbetter's Gumbo Writer blog!

I have a question about how to handle a problem my husband and I are having with good friends. We've been friends w/this couple since we moved to Ohio almost 3 years ago. We do a lot w/them socially and they have a daughter who is the same age as our oldest daughter (11) and the girls had been friends up until the beginning of this school year (5th grade). That's when things started to go south. Their daughter, "B", started being mean to our daughter, "H". B began hanging out w/another group of girls that really didn't like H. B is condescending to H, she ignores her, rolls her eyes when H says something, etc. My friend, B's mom, and I discussed the trouble w/the girls, sat them down and had a talk w/them about their feelings, etc., but the girls have since drifted apart. It's made things a little weird and strained between me and B's mom, especially, even though we still do a lot together socially.

My friend has made a number of unsettling and sarcastic comments about different things over the past few months. I'm thinking it's because of the girls' relationship and the fact that our daughter no longer seeks "play" time with their daughter. Our daughters don't eat lunch or play together at recess like they once did. The relationship has become uncomfortable for me and my husband and I don't know how to handle it. The man and woman are a nice couple--sweet, caring, fun, they go to church, they have a lot of the same family values we have. We do have a lot in common with them and we've enjoyed their company over the past few years. But my friend's comments are getting harder to tolerate and we don't want to continue bemoaning the issues between our daughters--especially because my friend defends her daughter's actions all the time. I'm simplifying here, but in the past when I've said to my friend, "H said B was mean to her today" my friend will respond with, "Well, B tells a different story and B thinks H is mean to her." Ugh. I realize there are two different sides to every story, but my friend has never said B came home crying from school because H was mean to her, or B hasn't been sleeping because H is mean, etc. My daughter has chosen to separate from B. She no longer wants to hang out w/her and play with her after school or on weekends. We're fine with this as we think H seems happier now.

So how to handle our friends, B's parents? We have a dinner date w/them this evening and we're not looking forward to it. We'll have to listen to my friend's comments and we'll have to listen to her go on and on about how wonderful B is when we've seen a completely different side of their "angel." What would you do in this situation? It's sad that the girls have gone their separate ways, but can we, as the parents of these girls, still have a good relationship?

Thanks so much for any help/insight you have to offer.

Dear Mom,

Yes, this is a sticky wicket. You've definitely got a case of "Mama-bear syndrome" and for good reason.

Once, when I was young, I overheard a conversation between my mom and an older, African-American woman. They were discussing how someone had wronged one of her children and she said to my mother, "You can pretty much do anything you want to me, but don't F___ with my baby!". I was initially shocked by the language of this very genteel woman. But the real reason it stuck with me was because of its utter and complete truth.

It doesn't matter whether it is another child her own age--your daughter has been hurt and you are compelled to protect. Since B's mother doesn't share your concern, everything she says is rubbing you the wrong way. Having said this, I believe it still may be possible for your relationship with this other couple to survive--but it will need some transition time.

For now, I would only see the couple when it is effortless--when neighbors or other friends are getting together in a larger group, but don't try to hard to maintain the relationship as it was once. It sounds like, although you had lots in common, it was also based in part upon the girls, and that part is no longer. As your daughter's each find their way into middle school, they will naturally gravitate to others, and possibly even back together again.

When the feelings are less raw, you may find yourselves in a better place to pick up the friendship, but in the meantime, let it drift and take its natural course. If B's mom keeps trying to get together, just be busy with other plans--and try not to feel guilty about taking a time out. You need it.


  1. Thanks so much for your comments. I think you're correct in much of what you say. The hard part for me will trying to be busy with our plans when my friend calls, which is almost every day. Thanks for your insight!

  2. What a grotesque time for kids 5th through 11th grade is. Ug! Hope it resolves soon and tensions ease.

    Love this place!

  3. I totally, totally agree. Transition time. Definitely!