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People are avoiding a friend b/c of her difficult children


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Old 3rd January 2017, 3:48 PM   #1
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People are avoiding a friend b/c of her difficult children

I have a friend, "Lauren," who has complained recently about feeling isolated and left out of social plans. What I don't think she realizes concretely is that people are in fact avoiding her because her two children are very difficult.

These kids are both under 6, so of course that's no cake walk to begin with, but they both have diagnosed behavior disorders and act out a lot. Tantrums, screaming, crying, fighting *in general they're both just exhausting and hard to be around. They don't get along with either adults or other children in fact, with other kids, there's sometimes violence like hitting, biting.

Lauren's a single mom, which means her kids must be inevitably involved in the majority of her social life. But more and more, she's been left out of plans because people simply don't like to be around the children. For example, recently a group of friends went on a weekend camping trip that did include other people's kids. Lauren learned she was left out of that, felt hurt, and vocalized that to everyone.

I feel bad (note: I don't have children myself but do enjoy the company of most of my friend's kids). And I do make a point of hanging out with Lauren every once in a while despite not liking her kids.

But in general, is there any way to address or improve this issue? I assume this is a thing where everyone has to just keep their mouth shut and not address the elephant in the room... because the truth is too painful and there's no easy solutions.
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Old 3rd January 2017, 4:01 PM   #2
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What were her kids diagnosed with?

Have any of you ever talked to her and offered help? Or suggested ways that could make her life easier? I say be honest and say it respectfully. Instead of excluding her, include her and tell her that when her kids are around too, there are rules and boundaries that must be followed and if it's okay if other adults help give her kids timeouts etc.. Just an idea.
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Old 3rd January 2017, 4:33 PM   #3
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The older kid was diagnosed with oppositional defiance disorder (ODD), which from what I see/hear/read about is a very difficult thing to deal with. The younger kid right now has "ADHD" but I wouldn't be surprised if an ODD diagnosis is also in his future because his behavior issues are so similar to his sibling's.

I've had candid conversations with Lauren about the diagnoses and the way she's handling them (i.e. therapy, medication, switching schools in one case.) I offer an open ear and advice, but as a friend I'm not sure there's much more I can do.

It's a terrible situation. I know she's got a lot on her plate and it doesn't help that friends are keeping their distance. But for me I'm not sure it's a healthy option to get more involved. Frankly, the times I do make a point to spend time with her & the kids (once every 7-8 weeks, I'd estimate) are enough to test the ends of my patience. One kid actually hit ME last time.
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Old 3rd January 2017, 6:28 PM   #4
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There are certain things you just don't say to parents. Your baby is ugly...I avoid you socially because your children are difficult and ill-mannered...both fall on that list.

Although true, it won't change the situation and will only leave her resentful and angry with the messenger.

If she has access to a babysitter, maybe offer to do a girls night out with her. But I wouldn't hang around kids who actually hit me! ODD or not, no way am I serving as some kid's punching bag!
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Old 3rd January 2017, 6:29 PM   #5
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I've got a special needs child and have many friends who also have them. But I too wouldn't hang out with a child who was a danger to others.

Totally agree with Angel's suggestion of a girl's night out
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Old 3rd January 2017, 7:20 PM   #6
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Yeah, I think that's a good suggestion to encourage options where she can get a babysitter and go out without her kids. Not only for my self-centered goal of avoiding her kids, but because this woman obviously needs some relief from her home environment.

I think I could even frame it like that: "I know the kids have been tough. Want to find a sitter X night and take a break?"

Unfortunately the situations where Lauren's felt hurt recently are ones where friends are gathering together WITH their kids and deliberately leaving her out. But I guess that's not so much my personal problem since I don't have kids myself.
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Old 3rd January 2017, 8:36 PM   #7
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I can't say that I blame these parents. Their first responsibility is the safety of their own children, not the bruised feelings of a mom with poorly controlled, physically violent children. Play dates are about having fun, not getting traumatized by other children.

If she wants her kids involved, she'll have to find a different circle of kids where hitting others for no reason is acceptable. There are support groups for parents with ODD children. I'm sure her children's psychotherapist has mentioned these to her. When she feels compelled, she'll seek them out if she hasn't already done so.
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Old 5th January 2017, 10:58 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by angel.eyes View Post
I can't say that I blame these parents. Their first responsibility is the safety of their own children, not the bruised feelings of a mom with poorly controlled, physically violent children. Play dates are about having fun, not getting traumatized by other children.

If she wants her kids involved, she'll have to find a different circle of kids where hitting others for no reason is acceptable. There are support groups for parents with ODD children. I'm sure her children's psychotherapist has mentioned these to her. When she feels compelled, she'll seek them out if she hasn't already done so.
This is exactly what I think...

She needs to find a different circle of friends.
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Old 5th January 2017, 2:03 PM   #9
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Well, behavior disorders at six are something she needs to address in family counseling or parenting classes because not all behavior disorders are something insurmountable or something that can't be changed. A spoiled power-mad kid can be said to have a behavioral disorder. It's her responsibility to take parenting classes or family counseling to find out how these problems got started and fix it or if it's one of the more severe type, get them in the best possible place to deal with it.

I'm like you, I will only come around once i awhile and put myself through that. If I can't even visit with the parent, I don't see the point in just sitting there subjecting myself to kids seeking attention and the mother being unable to visit about anything other than her kids' behavior.

It's not easy to find baby-sitters for kids that disruptive, but that's why you may have to team up with other mothers of that type of kid and take turns getting a day off once in awhile. I've had to tell my friend in the nicest way I could muster that I am there to visit with her, not her kids. If all it's going to be is sitting around fielding kid questions, I'm out. I also ended up having to tell her daughter that since she wouldn't take it seriously when her mother told her to get out of the middle of us. "While I love you to pieces, I'm here to visit with your mother because she and I are old friends."

If I have a friend who'd rather not deal with my dogs when visiting, i exile them for the duration, and I think parents ought to have enough control over their kids to do the same when necessary. Anytime we had company, my mother would tell me "Go play in the other room," no explanation or anything, and I did. Of course, I was taught from an early age not to interrupt adults while they were talking.
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Last edited by preraph; 5th January 2017 at 2:05 PM..
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