Friday, November 5, 2010

Ask Lola.

What do you do when you're friends with the mom but the kids don't mesh well? And what do you do with a child who is mean to your child?

Just as I recommended segregated get-togethers with friends who have super annoying husbands, I also recommend segregated get-togethers with moms whose kids clash with yours. I know that "middle of the day" play dates are the best and easiest way to get the social interaction that so many stay at home moms crave, but you have to weigh the benefits against the inconveniences. If your kids are so busy squabbling, pinching, biting, and snatching toys that you find yourself refereeing the entire time, then is it really worth it?

If that's how it's going to go down, I personally would rather spend the time letting my own kids play quietly in their rooms whilst I re-read the entire Twilight series all over again all by my lone. (Thanks for the killer term, Sawyer Susie.) Oh Edward... he is just perfection, but team Jacob! Yay!
*Insert sarcastic tone here.*

Get your "friend time" in over dinner on a night out where you can actually visit and catch up on one another's lives. Don't do "nights out"? Well START! They are so great. Make it a priority. If your hubs doesn't want to watch the kids... um, have him come talk to me! Moms need time away. It is vital to their happiness. (You can thank me later.)

Play dates should be fun for YOUR KIDS. You should choose a play friend who will be a good example for your child. Someone who is courteous, mild, and won't push your child's buttons just for the heck of it. When you pair your kid with someone who causes trouble all of the time, they are picking up on all of the bad behaviors the other child is exhibiting. Before you know it, your kid will be the annoying one. He'll have learned from the very best.

As for ...what do you do with a child who is mean to your child?

I can only give my personal opinion here, so here is what I do.

If the OC (Other Child) is doing something that is immediately harmful (i.e. about to shatter something breakable, slam something heavy down on another child's head, take a header down some stairs, eat poison - you know... the basics) I recommend jumping in. But I recommend doing so in an upbeat, sweet voice saying something along the lines of "Uh oh! No, no, that can hurt you. Let's play over here." OR "Uh oh! No hitting!" (If the OC is older, you don't have to be condescending - adjust the tone as needed.)

If the OC is just generally rude, (snatching toys, pushing, threatening to "not be your child's friend if they don't do whatever OC says" - oooo I really HATE that last one - emotional manipulation amongst toddlers is just downright stinky.) I would hang back and let OC's mom deal with them. If mom DOESN'T deal with them - red flag! It's ALWAYS going to be annoying to have play dates with permissive parents because the kids run the show. So DON'T have play dates with those kids - go out to dinner with their lovely (albeit clueless) mother instead and have yourselves a great time.

There are kids that Kortland can play with all day every day without a single glitch. And there are only a handful of kids we have encountered in the last 4 years that he can't get along with to save his life! So, he plays with the 20 kids that can play nice, and we avoid the other few like the plague. It makes for a pretty nice life, if I do say so myself.

I DO NOT recommend trying to parent or scold someone else's children. EVER. They don't like it. Think about it, do you? I sure don't. The mama-bear surfaces pretty fast in situations where someone gets after my kid. Now, I try to be open-minded, and I know for a fact that my kids aren't perfect, but it's still MY job to do the dirty work. Not ANYONE else's.

Everyone has a different parenting style, and if your friend's parenting style results in an aggressive little turd that drives you and your poor toddler crazy, then avoid, avoid, avoid. Sorry, it's pretty much all you can do. You can't tell someone else how to parent. If someone insisted that I needed to start spanking Kort, I would think that they were nuttier than a squirrel turd! Period. People have their own values and issues when it comes to raising children, and to try and tell someone they are going about it all wrong is useless. You might as well tell them to change religions or political parties while you're at's about that socially incorrect (not to mention pointless).

If you're an up-front kind of person, I don't see anything wrong with saying (very nicely) "You know, I don't feel like these two get on very well lately, so maybe we should put play dates on hold until they grow out of this stage." I wouldn't criticize their child in any way, because then you just look like the mom who thinks her kid is perfect... even though that's totally what you are ;) (Aren't we all?) And seriously, what person would take kindly to criticism about the little person they love most in the whole wide world? (Answer: No one I know...)


Laura said...

I love your ask lola things! And I also love that people think that my "Peter Pan" family pics are of your family! :o) We're pretty much family...right? ;o) I am flattered!

Anonymous said...

I just lost a friend from a situation like this. It is SO hard when your friends child and your child do not get along. My son was learning terrible things and being picked on the whole duration of the play date by the end all we had done is referee. I tried to avoid play dates and continue the friendship but after about a year and a half of friendship she didn't want to be friends I guess she caught on. Hard situation but I guess it is better for my son not to have to endure "play dates" anymore.

the Lola Letters said...

Yeah, it's too bad when stuff like that happens! But honestly, if she is the kind of person who can't take an honest, hard look at her kid and the way she is parenting... I've gotta tell ya, I wouldn't really be able to be friends with her anyway.

I have a fundamental need to DEEPLY respect anyone who I consider to be a good friend. I know that my friends are INFINITELY cooler than me and that there is a ton that I can (and hope to) learn from each and every one of them. That's something friends should do. They should make you want to be a better person, and then help you to get there.

I just can't respect people who can't (ahem, or won't) self-evaluate from time to time and strive to be better every day. Just can't.

It's something that all of us should be doing, and people who refuse to do it are SUCH a burden in any relationship because YOU are the one who has to do all of the adjusting and changing around them. Where's the fun in that?

Friends should be some of the best people in your life. People who lift you up, make you laugh, make you forget about your problems (or even help you solve them), make you feel like you're not alone (and not crazy, and not entirely the most evil person who has ever walked the face of the earth...)

They shouldn't be a total energy suck. If they are... they're not really friends.