If you made the decision to intentionally distance yourself from a friend, were you honest about it or did you decide to “ghost” them? What were your reasons?
I love my friend. She is an amazing selfless person and has helped us so much since we moved to this area 3.5 years ago. Her 4 year old son is my 4yo sons best friend and they get along great. But her other son (9) has always had behavioral issues and they have been getting worse. Whenever we get together he is mean to our son picking on him, bossing him around and even physically harming him. He’s also extremely rude to adults and has no respect for other people’s property or personal space. Now, my son also has behavioral issues and even goes to a special needs school among other things so I’m certainly more sympathetic to this than the average person. But her sons behaviors have been getting so bad that it’s been very upsetting for our son and ontop of that it’s clear that my friend doesn’t believe in discipline so she literally ignores him completely as he destroys our property and tortures our son. It’s gone on for too long now but we’ve finally decided to maybe not end the friendship completely but at least never allow her son near our son. It will soon become obvious what we’re doing and I’m sure our 4 yo’s relationship will suffer as a result.
Now I’m wondering.. should I tell her our plan? Explain our reasons why? I would obviously leave out any judgy comments about her parenting style and keep it to the facts about how upset the interactions make our son. But she is always complaining about people telling her she needs to use discipline and I’m afraid she will jump to this conclusion and get mad. Will it do more harm than good? What have you all done in similar situations?
persimmon / 1005 posts
I don’t see it as ghosting to distance yourself. I personally wouldn’t feel the need to explain in detail your plan as it sounds like she wouldn’t be receptive to any suggestions you had anyway.
If she asks, I would explain but otherwise would not.
apricot / 264 posts
I wouldn’t say anything and just distance myself. This is what I’ve done in the past mainly because I don’t like confrontation. If she asks, then I would say something.
wonderful pea / 17279 posts
In situations like this I think straight talk leads to straight understanding, but hearing that ones child is effectively a terror is tough. I’d probably just distance yourself from the older child by making it very clear that if you choose to get together it’s just the younger children. If that’s not doable and she asks why you could start with the a simple “they don’t play well together.”
pomegranate / 3355 posts
I'd fade away or just agree to play dates or meet ups with just her and her younger son...if that is ever an option.... or coffee meet ups just adults no kids to maintain the friendship but leave the kids out of it. If you continually say no... the invites will eventually go away/end.
wonderful kiwi / 23653 posts
@Modern Daisy: what is her response as she sees this stuff going down?! She doesn't even apologize for your stuff being destroyed?!
coffee bean / 27 posts
I would avoid bringing up her son’s behavior that she is flat out witnessing in your own home. What’s the point? She KNOWS her son has issues but is choosing to not do anything about it. The very least she could do is not bring him along. Maybe she’s exhausted or overwhelmed, or embarrassed, or thinks he’ll grow out of it, or just doesn’t know what to do. But just based on my experience, no one likes to hear that their kid is a menace no matter how well-intentioned the advice. Personally I’d distance myself, maybe not entirely, but definitely keep my son away from her son or just hang out with her without kids around. Sorry that’s tough to manage, but I’ve made that mistake more than once before and it never ended well.
grapefruit / 4361 posts
Agree with @Mrs. Lemon-Lime: .
I'm struggling right now with my toddler's behaviors in comparison to my friends' kids. My friends know I'm working on it. I would MUCH MUCH rather my friends be direct with me and eliminate certain interactions, vs. ghosting me. Ghosting would make me feel all sorts of insecure about myself, vs. someone just saying, "honestly, our kids arent playing well together and it's been going on a long time. So when we hang out, I'd rather it be an adults-only time, like getting coffee, happy hour, or lunch."
In your case, I think hanging out with just the 4 year olds would be fine and you can just turn down invites with the older kid.
wonderful cherry / 21504 posts
I don’t think it has to be a criticism of her son or her parenting if you just say her older son is upsetting your son so you want to keep them apart. You can acknowledge that your son has his own behavior issues and that hanging out with the older one seems to make it worse, but that you would hate for him to miss out on playing with the younger one. I wouldn’t mention the destructive behavior since to me, the effect he has on your kid is a bigger deal anyway
wonderful pear / 26210 posts
I agree with @Mrs. Lemon-Lime on this one.
honeydew / 7463 posts
I don’t like confrontation so I can totally see how distancing would in some ways be the “easier” solution. But I think that in the long run it may be more hurtful. If the relationship with her and the younger son is important to you, I would figure out a kind way to tell her your feelings.
Like instead of focusing on her or her older son, I would make it more about my younger son, his feelings, and your instinct to protect him.
I would tell her that you love her and her kids. You understand the older is in a rough spot right now and you don’t take it personally, but the 4yo doesn’t understand that so easily. So for the time being you’d like to keep the meetups to just the two of you or only 4yos.
Her knee jerk reaction might be offended or angry. But I do think that deep down she will understand and won’t be shocked.
If her 4yo was the problem that, in my opinion, would be a different story. In that case I would probably avoid and fade away. Because saying the kid your son directly plays with is a problem seems a lot harder (for both of you). Or if you didn’t care for her I’d say just distance yourself.
grapefruit / 4321 posts
Since it's the older son that is the only issue (you and the mother still have a good relationship and your 4 year olds still get along) I would tell her the truth. Don't make it about YOUR feelings about her son, make it about your son's feelings and having to do what is best for him. If she's a good friend I think it's worth being honest with her. Honestly, if her son's behavior is something that could be improved with disciple, therapy, etc you're not doing her (or her son) any favors by just fading away. If ignoring the issue is beginning to affect the rest of the family's ability to maintain relationships, perhaps it will motivate her to make some changes that will improve things for everyone.
persimmon / 1483 posts
I’m not a fan of ghosting an actual friend. I think I would be strategically honest? Like, I would just say that since the all the boys are not playing well together (something she must know, even if she chooses not to do anything about it), you’d like to try playdates with just the little ones to see if that works better.
pomelo / 5084 posts
@Mrs. Lemon-Lime: Agreed.
pomelo / 5084 posts
cantaloupe / 6171 posts
I was ghosted by my ex best friend and it was really damaging for me, so I would never ghost on anyone. That said, distancing is different— if I were you, I’d distance myself to protect my son, but tell her if she asks or if the opportunity to bring it up arises,
try to have a direct conversation in a loving, Non accusatory way
pomegranate / 3601 posts
I like @Madison43 idea of being honest about the core of things. And just a thought: Could you just have her younger son over? I know there is a cultural difference (I'm in Europe) but we often just have my kids' friends over with the parents just dropping off and picking up.
pomegranate / 3127 posts
I think it would help to explain, gently, because she can do something about the situation - for example have play dates just with the younger kids, instead of possibly losing the friendship altogether. This kind of thing is pretty isolating and she's probably lost quite a few friends already.
It may also be good for her to get out of the house without worrying what destruction the older child will wreak while she's trying to socialize - I would never say *that* to her, it may not come across well, but parenting a child like that is 24/7 exhausting and no one deserves to never have a break from the stress.