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Do you hate your kid’s friends?

Categories: Mommy Angst


Until this school year, my younger daughter relied on her brother to be her friend, and had no friends of her own. That changed on the first day of third grade when she discovered her new BFF Nina—who also happened to live in the same neighborhood. What luck! Now they run in a pack of about 6 identical girls, very much a third-grade thing, and life couldn’t be sweeter.

When I was preparing to visit my kids last month, my daughter couldn’t wait for me to finally meet her friend. Her older brother was ominous. He IM’d me: you might not like hershe’s not what you think. Uh, not what I think? I trust my daughter to make good friends; why wouldn’t I?  But those words kept rolling around in my head, she’s not what you think.

The visit came and went and the closest I got to Nina was waving and smiling through a car window. True, her appearance wasn’t what I was expecting (is that what he meant?), but appearances mean so little. So she could be a total hellion and I’d never know. At 9 she was probably too young for lip piercing, and there were no visible tattoos, and she wasn’t smoking. Check, check, check. But because I don’t live with my kid I can overlook my daughter’s new focus on trashy plastic toys, High School Musical, and the other trappings of a facet of third grade-hood I would prefer she miss.

But what if I had really hated Nina? What if it turned out that she was a horrible influence on my kid, sending her home with much more than new and unwelcome toy cravings, but instead with new and unwelcome words or new and unwelcome actions?

There are a lot of ways to approach this, but they boil down to one of these:

1. The Controller. Whatever you say goes. You’re the parent so you control what comes into your house. Bad kid? He’s outta here, end of story, goodbye. Oh, and don’t let him slam the door when he goes.

2. The Fixer. Be the disciplinarian! Make that kid shape up! All the other moms will secretly thank you.

3. The Guilter. Use your kid as ammunition. Have looong talks with her about what is right and what isn’t, tell her how much you trust her judgment, and then convince her to shame her friend into being less horrible. This method also works well to convert kids to vegetarianism (be sure to share what you know about factory farms).

4. The Gandhi. You’re a closet bodhisatva, and everyone knows it. Your very presence makes people want to just be better. You know that everyone has that pearl of goodness within them, and you’re betting that this kid does too. Just breathe…

5. The Ostrich. lalalala I can’t hear you! What? Problem? There’s no problem if I look the other way … lalalala!

6. The Blamer. It’s all that other parent’s fault! Clearly they are the bad ones. Let’s shun them! Or, better yet, let’s get the pitchforks!

Sigh. I think I’ve been all of these, but I lean toward lalalala. Which are you? Have anything else to share about kids you hate?

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4 comments so far...

  • I would be asking my kid a lot of questions about her friend, and using her answers as a springboard for some motherly advice.

    My kids are too young for that, but I observe a lot of parents who have perfect kids but for the bad influences in their lives. Rest assured that the parents of those “bad influences” feel the same way. It states the obvious that that’s a dangerous attitude, yet it’s amazing how many parents fall into the trap. They model a “blame others” philosophy and their kids pick this up too. Lots of teachable moments get squandered.

    I wouldn’t ban a kid outright without having concrete evidence that my kid is in danger. But, my kid would have to earn my trust that she could behave herself when she’s with the friend, and a possible consequence would be to be “grounded” from the friend. Thing is, it has to be about what my own kid chooses to do.

    SKL  |  February 4th, 2009 at 12:16 pm

  • I do remember at 3 years old, they did not like my best friend. They told me flat out that she was a spoiled brat. At 3, it was very easy for them to not take me to someone’s house anymore. The la-la-la method definitely doesn’t work. That was my parents approach in my teens and it was a terrible approach. No way they should have ever let me hang out with the people I did. Perhaps the only way to avoid any of this is to raise your kid well AND to raise your kid to be a leader. This way your kid will be making the call for their friends as to what is “cool” and what is not. This is the approach that I am trying becasue I don’t know what else to do!! FYI - So far, though, the only thing I’ve been told that he has led has been a baby riot in preschool by throwing his bottle across the room and screaming - to which his whole class immediately followed suit. So I guess my method is not working yet!! LOL.

    Oceans Mom  |  February 5th, 2009 at 11:28 am

  • That’s a topic that’s actually very important to me, and I still remember being a child grounded from my best friend. I was a bit older though. And the part that terrifies me is not that I suffered terribly without my friend, but the fact that that was exact moment when my parents became “no longer friends” and I started on the way of lying and shutting out parents from my life. With trials and errors it evolved from “telling nothing” to only telling things that were “parent appropriate”, that way my behavior raised no concerns.

    I’m thinking about people I was friends with with a shudder now, and my parents did not have a single clue, and I had a very good reason not to tell them. I was very lucky, I never got into any trouble, I always came back home safe. But should something happen they would not know where to start looking.

    Now I have my own child, and have all reasons to believe that eventually I’ll get a pay back with my son’s behavior. So I will try my best to first learn as much as possible about friends and why are they friends, what does my child like about being friends with them. And always have open channels of communication, even if I’d wanted to ground him from friendship, I would not do that unless there is a very valid reason to do so, like, danger to his health or life, and only demand and teach that my child behaves properly. Saying that I would indirectly try to lessen the influence - like sign up him for karate classes, so that there is less free time available and there is a difference in their interests. Hopefully I’ll come up with other ways depending on the age and situation as well, but in my opinion this is one of the trickiest parenting issues.

    Maria  |  February 5th, 2009 at 3:43 pm

  • So funny. I have a friend who announced almost the day I met her “I can’t stand almost all kids but mine–and I can only tolerate those of close friends after a number of years.” I was horrified at this statement–initially.

    Then I started think about it. Did I really enjoy playdates? NO. So, I concluded while my friend was prone ( a later realization) to shocking statements which were very funny, she hit on a nerve. What do you do when a visiting child isn’t behaving as you see fit? It is completely unnerving to me. But if I am honest, I have to say I am a “Guilter”.

    cc21  |  February 19th, 2009 at 11:32 pm