When you love your child's friend but not their parents
Here's what to do.
March 06 2017
As all our children return to school and daycare, we parents have high hopes. We want our children to learn, to gain new skills, to develop confidence, and to be stimulated. And we want to them to make friends. Lots of friends! What parent doesn’t want their kids to be loved?
Still, our children’s friendships can be fraught with problems. Hopefully, most of our kids’ friends will be delightful little people, but there will always be friends who you don’t particularly like. Friends who irritate you for no reason, treat your home like their day spa or lead your child into mischief (or your lingerie drawer/chocolate stash/purse).
And then there are the kids who come with baggage. I don’t mean their Dora the Explorer backpacks – I mean the living, breathing baggage that drives them to and from school and accompanies them everywhere they go.
Yes. Sometimes fabulous kids have seriously unfabulous parents. And when you don’t like your child’s friend’s parents, what are your options?
I have met them. You will meet them, too. The friend with a mother who is overbearing, or cold, or superior, or obnoxious, or who talks endlessly about her ‘extremely advanced’ child. Or the friendwith a father who is lecherous, or rude, or overly familiar, or who tries to recruit you into their pre-school swingers club. And then there are the parents who only let their child eat white foods, or refuse to allow polyester into their house, or insist that vaccinations cause global warming.
What do you do? How do you cope with parents who drive you crazy? Do you encourage your child’s friendship, or make excuses and guide your offspring to a more palatable family?
Well, it depends on your child’s popularity, the strength of the friendship, and how much you are prepared to compromise. When your son or daughter is popular, and has many friends to choose from, it’s fairly easy to focus on the friends (and parents) you like. When your child has only one or two friends, it’s more important to swallow your own feelings and nurture the friendships they have.
KEEPING YOUR DISTANCE
Either way, you don’t have to be friendly with parents you don’t particularly like. Of course, it’s hard when your kids are very little, and you socialise as a team. However, as they get older, you can separate your own friends from theirs. You can arrange drop-off playdates instead of family visits. You can politely decline invitations to join the other parents for dinner. By the time your kids are of school age, you need to do little more than meet and greet the mum or dad at the door.
Still, there’s a lot to be said for demonstrating tolerance to our children. We all need to accept people we may not have chosen as friends.
Unless they serve you white foods in their swinger’s den whilst demonstrating their child’s sporting trophies and spelling bee prizes. Then run. RUN.
Run as fast as you can.