My friend who I met through our adolescent daughters, can be great fun when she’s with me or other women friends. But with her daughter, she can be very demanding, even harsh. The same goes for her husband whom I like on his own, but when he’s with his family he’s often short-tempered.
Their daughter copies their moods and is sometimes rude or off-putting to mine, for no reason. When she upsets my daughter or is rude to their friends, I feel awkward because feelings get hurt. But I don’t want to be a hover-mother and get in the middle of 13-year-olds.
I like both parents and want to stay friends with them. I wish I could help the mother control her negative manner with her daughter. What should I do?
Handling Awkward Friendships
The girl’s parents may be fun and interesting as friends when they’re with adults. But they have short reins on their patience and moods within their own family. That tendency has already passed on to their daughter.
Your interest in changing the situation would require a delicate conversation. If you ask if she’s feeling okay because you’ve felt some tension in her, she might deny it, brush you off or be annoyed with you for asking.
Just say that if she does ever want to talk privately, you care enough for her to want to listen. Period.
Meanwhile, your daughter may not want you to manage her friendship, but she does need you to listen and talk things through with her. It’s not her job to solve her friend’s issues.
But she too can just listen if the friend opens up (urge her to share with you if it’s a serious matter).
OR she can take a break from their contacts. If your daughter’s getting upset frequently, give her permission to withdraw, perhaps giving back-to-school as an excuse.
My wife’s ex-husband is still angry at her about their divorce six years ago. He does everything he can to undermine her and us as a couple. He’s constantly lying about us to their children - especially their younger son who’s 14.
He’ll tell their sons that we cancelled a get-together with the boy, and instead took my two kids camping where we can’t be reached.
Wrong. We were waiting at home and hurt that he didn’t call back to confirm that he was coming here.
Whatever plan we have with any of her kids, it’s always sabotaged by him. We have joint custody but the older boys come and go as they please.
We’ve been to court twice about the way the younger boy is being manipulated. We were sent to mediation which never worked for us, due to her ex’es persistent meanness.
I feel so hurt for my wife. The younger boy doesn’t keep in touch, nor insist on seeing us, doesn’t call to talk. He’s said that his mother “replaced” him with my children.
What should we do?
Recognize the younger boy’s pain. He’s expecting to get together with his mom, is told lies by his father, and misses out. Focus on the boy’s disappointment and hurt.
His accusation of having been “replaced” must be answered with reassurance that he’s deeply loved/missed by his mom.
Get that message to him. She can call/text/email missing him and wanting to see him. She can try to meet him privately (not at school, it’d embarrass him).
Return to court mediation with evidence of his father’s resistance/blocking efforts.
Reader’s Commentary Regarding Grandparent Alienation (August 13):
“We’ve been astonished at the number of families in our same position. We still don’t know what we did that ended connection to our grandkids.
“It’s been five years since our son’s spoken to us. We are in our 70’s and wonder whether or not he’d care if one of us were to die.
“We were raised to respect our elders and we believe our son was as well. He was surrounded by love and lucky enough to have two sets of grandparents who loved and spoiled him.
“We’ve tried to reach out, each time to no avail. We have two grandchildren with whom we have no relationship at all. I hope my son never experiences the hurt we live with, when/if his sons have a significant other.”
Ellie - You’ve hinted at an initial problem between you and your son’s partner. Perhaps an apology would help.
Tip of the day:
Handle rifts/rudeness from young friends by listening, discussing or imposing a short break.