I’ve been friends with another woman for six years, our children grew up together. Our husbands play hockey together.
She’s very image-conscious, and I’m not. But it didn’t matter for a few years.
More recently, she’s distanced from me, which I accepted. I’m busy working, she’s active socially.
What bothers me now is that, when we do get together, she plays the role of the “star.”
Even for the hockey team’s holiday get-together, she dressed extravagantly. She went to each of the wives to chat, as if she were the hostess, but avoided me.
She’s showy about her possessions, and is always talking about her next purchase.
I sound like I don’t like her at all, but that’s not entirely true as I do like her sons, and they’re still good kids and important friends of my daughter and son.
I feel that, as a parent of such children, she has some good qualities.
Also, since we’re busy in different ways, I’d be happy enough with just some pleasant vibes between us when our families are together.
What can I do to get our friendship on a better footing?
Distanced by the Star
You’re actually more hurt than just “bothered” by her behaviour, because you once shared a closer bond through the kids.
But if you’d just met her today, you likely wouldn’t have even tried to get close to her. Different styles, different values.
What you share now centers mainly around the kids’ and your husbands’ connections. It’s no longer about two mothers having similar experiences as parents.
These are natural common changes in life as you grow through differing phases.
Now, your immediate family relationships come first, your work life comes second. While friendships were very high on the list when younger, the changes in people and circumstances, often lessen some friendship ties.
Don’t overreact… if you find her too hard to take, back further away.
Just be yourself.
Readers’ Commentary “I work with a lot of parents of high-school and college students.
“The main concern I hear from most of them is that their teenagers/youth feel isolated socially.
“Instead of the give and take of in-person friendships because of their studies, homework and pressures, their relationships are mostly through using text and Instagram.
“They’re overwhelmed by fake news instead of real information, and also caught up with the unreality of celebrity lifestyles and promotions of their clothing/ styles.
“All this is going on internally while they’re stressed about marks and parental expectations. Many are seeing counsellors for their anxieties and depression.
“Any thoughts for parents?”
“Balance” is one ingredient that’s missing. So, too, are perspective, and trust from the parents and the teens/young adults.
For balance, interests like sports, music, art, a hobby, can help youth and parents alike to take refreshing breaks, engage in person with others doing similar activities, and enjoy the give and take without stress.
For perspective and trust, parents and their striving children need to accept that a low mark and even a failure is another way we learn.
Overreacting only ratchets up fear and anxiety of “never” reaching a goal.
These students need as much love and support as when youngsters.
Social media, fake news, and celebrity lifestyle-hype, are part of their era which they must learn to analyze, and form their own assessments.
Parents can help by asking leading questions, giving perspective from historical facts, and trusting that young people will eventually be selective about what they read/hear.
FEEDBACK More from the letter-writer who responded about the man whose wife was always blaming him:
Reader – “I learned that when I blamed others, I was not only hurting them, but I was also wrongly putting myself into a “victim” mode.
“That produced a false sense of helplessness in me, which prevented me from benefiting and learning from the everyday challenges one faces.
“So, the harmfulness of blaming behaviour is something I took great care to impart to all my foster children over the next 25 years.
“I confronted them when they did something wrong, but I believe that not setting a bad example of blaming behaviour is one of the reasons my many foster kids grew up to be such loving and emotionally healthy adults.”
Ellie - This letter-writer did research on the topic of blaming and its effect on others as well as herself. An online search can help those interested find similar insights.
Tip of the day:
Everyone’s life faces passages which commonly cause friendships to adjust or change.