Friend won't lay off MY difficult child's issues

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by Thinking Outside the Box, Oct 30, 2009.

  1. :sick:Have you ever had someone that you actually considered to be a friend, but yet they drive you absolutely insane with their advice on your difficult child's behavioral and emotional issues and academic challenges? My difficult child's issues are so severe and this friend of mine is constantly telling me that she can fix my son's problems in a week; he is always good for her; he always listens to her; he never misbehaves for me; I wish you would just let me come over your house every night for a week and put him to bed; "have you ever tried positive reinforcement; have you ever tried giving him the silent treatment" and so on and so on. I am sooooooooo sick of listening to her tell me that my son is not on the spectrum because she knows two other kids on the spectrum and they are way worse then my difficult child. My friend is repeatedly trying to get me to go her childrens' doctors because they are so great, blah blah and more blah. She is my friend because she has a wonderful heart but I must be honest when I say that there is nothing in her life that I admire. Her life is self-induced chaotic and there is nothing about her child-rearing methods that I respect and she is most definitely someone that does not follow through with anything when it comes to her kids counseling, doctors, schooling, etc. She is the kind of person that cannot complain enough about her life EVERY SINGLE DAY, but will not do anything to fix her life. Have any of you ever had a friend like this? I am feeling like the stress I am feeling with my difficult child's issues right now is making me significantly less tolerable of her and I don't know what to do about it. What do you think? :sick:
  2. KTMom91

    KTMom91 Well-Known Member

    I think you have enough going on in your life, being the best mom you can be to your child, to have the time and/or energy to continue to deal with this woman. You don't need to be torn down on a daily basis; you need to be built up.

    My opinion? Kick her nicely to the curb.

    Sending many hugs.
  3. klmno

    klmno Active Member

    I think you have a difficult child and you know you are dealing with a difficult situation, you have a friend that cares but doesn't get it, you have a board here you can post at and vent to.

  4. susiestar

    susiestar Roll With It

    What she is doing is NOT friendship. She is using your child's problems, your family problems, to make herself feel better about her life.

    All the "if you would just let me I could fix him in a week" stuff is a way of making herself sound like a better person and a better parent. She compares your child's issues to her kids' issues and in her mind her kids are "better", so she MUST be the better parent.

    I HAVE had friends like this. It is only after you kick them to the curb or put strong and specific limits into place that you really SEE the effect her "support" has on your family. It takes so much mental and emotional energy to deal with her "you are not good enough, you are not a good parent" garbage.

    After a friend like that is out of your day to day life you can see new ways to handle things, ways this person could not DREAM of to help.

    I think it is sad some parents need to do this to make themselves feel better about their lives. After all, parenting is NOT an Olympic sport. You don't get a gold medal if a child behaves better for you than for someone else.

    Many hugs, sorry she is so amazingly unsupportive.

    I do have one question, more one for you to think about than to answer to me or anyone else.

    If you do not admire her parenting and/or her life, do not respect her parenting and/or her life, then why is she a friend? Is she truly someone that you want to use your limited resources (emotional and mental, as well as other resources) interacting with?

    Again, I don't need an answer. There probably isn't a clear cut one. It is just something to think about.
  5. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    Susie, I think you're right on the money.

    Some people need to compare, constantly, in order to feel better about themselves. Or to feel more deserving of sympathy, or whatever. It's something I learned when I first had to learn to live with disability - I suffer pain and muscle weakness. But I found that some people in my life were always comparing unfavourably, either telling me to stop complaining because THEIR pain was so much worse than mine, and THEY could keep doing what they had to do so why couldn't I?

    Or I got the other types, the ones who said that of course I was getting on OK because obviously I wasn't in as much pain as them, if only I were in the same amount of pain then I would understand. Until then, they wouldn't let me talk about my pain at all.

    Not that I ever did make a lot of noise about it; it's just that when it is obvious to people around you (because you're using crutches or a wheelchair) then you get either the well-meaning advice, or the "for heaven's sake, pull yourself together" speeches.

    The thing is - we cannot compare our lives with one another. We can't compare difficult children with other difficult children. Each kid, each person, is dealing with their own issues and comparisons are not to be used as a way to browbeat someone into thinking/doing the way you do.

    Of course, you describe your child and I might say, "that sounds a lot like my son," but that's only so you can know you're not alone and that I might have something for you to think about in relation to your own situaiton. But that's where it stops - if what I describe turns out to be too different after all, then of course my advice can be dismissed by you and with good reason. You make the choices because it's your child that you know.

    Do not let anyone make you feel worse about your parenting. Especially do not let anyone make you feel worse, who themselves is not already a glowing example of parenthood themselves.

    You have your own answer.

    It all depends on what you value about her as a friend. It is when times are tough and our life becomes challenging, that we discover who our true friends really are. I lost friends when I became disabled. Some of them couldn't understand why I was no longer the active outdoorsy type. Others found that looking at my disability made them feel uncomfortable because I was a reminder of everyone's eventual deterioration and demise and they weren't ready to face that just yet.

    Over time I've made a lot of new friends who accept me as I am now. Old friends - some I occasionally bump into are still friendly but keep their distance. Some have stayed the course and these I value. But those who couldn't handle it - I'm polite to them but I insulate myself against any more pain they could cause me. I know they blame me for making them feel bad about their own failings.

    To be rude or polite about it - that depends on how your friendship works now. If she has a pressing need to feel superior to you, then she won't be happy to be pushed away simply because you don't like being made to feel inferior. In pushing her away, you will be denying her a valuable source of her own self-importance. In the same way, if you somehow manage to prove to her that you don't need her advice, she will be resentful.

    Maybe the best, kindest option will be to increasingly be the distant one, the one who forgets to return calls, who can't make it to the coffee shop as planned, who has to cancel out on lunch, who has other interests taking her away.

    The only other option would be to hurt her enough to make her go away, and that would make you feel bad about yourself (and I don't think you need that right now).

    So think about what you want. You don't have to put up with this, but you don't have to be rude to her either. She needs to learn healthier ways to make herself feel good (such as getting off her own rear end and actually DOING something instead of talking about how wonderful she is to someone else). But you are not responsible for her behaviour or her coping techniques. Don't try to fix her, the way she's trying to fix you.

    And you need to find healthier ways to make yourself feel supported.

    Like us (*beaming smile*)

  6. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    I've done this before and it worked well so I will recommend it to anyone who wants to use it. You don't have to get rid of her if you like her, but you do have to set boundaries. The result MAY be that she gets angry and leaves in a huff, but in my opinion you don't need her daily input. She doesn't get it.

    I have said to many people, "I've decided that the topic of my difficult child is off limits. I'm afraid that if you start to talk about it, I'll have to leave the room. I like you and will be happy to discuss anything else, but he's in treatment and I don't want to discuss this with anyone but his doctors."

    Be strict about it. I can't tell you how much grief it has saved me once the person realizes that I won't listen.
  7. susiestar

    susiestar Roll With It

    Excellent strategy, MWM!
  8. TPaul

    TPaul Idecor8

    I ditto all of the comments. Good advice
  9. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Thanks, Sue. Saved me grief with my helpful "family" and those who "know" how to "cure" autism. The only way to stop them from their helpful advice and to give THEM the option of staying or leaving (which makes it THEIR're not the bad guy) is too walk away if they start up. But you have to tell them in advance that you will leave the room, gently hang up the phone, go home, etc. And you have to do it. It usually only takes one or two times.

    I have a low tolerance for "I could fix him! Let me tell you how!"
  10. tictoc

    tictoc New Member

    I've recently distanced myself from a friend with similar tendencies. Hated to do it--our kids get along well--but I just couldn't take it any longer. There is a big difference between offering real support and offering pseudo-advice to inflate one's own ego.

    This was a hard decision to make. husband says I should have done it long ago, but it is not easy to let a friend go, even when they are driving you crazy. After all, you became friends for a reason, right?

    Good luck...You'll know when you've hit your limit.
  11. To all of you who replied to my post........ I hope this finds you all having a "Happy the day after Halloween"!! Too much candy for any of our difficult children? My 3 younger difficult children have spent more time sorting and trading their candy then eating it, so that is good! Thank you so much for all your advice. If any of you second guess yourself like I do (all the time), it is very to hear your opinions. I care very much about my friend because she does have a wonderful heart, she would give anyone the shirt off her back whether she knew them or not. (But, I have to admit, I have secretly wondered if she is this way so she can tell everyone what a great person she is.) The friendship came about thru a bowling league I was asked to join. Her daughter is friends with one of my daughters and is very close with my difficult child 2 that has all of the challenges. I must say that her daughter is very good with my difficult child 2. She is very patient, understanding of his issues, reads to him, tries to teach him things, etc. Her daughter is at my house anywhere from 1-5 times a week, as she loves to hang out with all my younger difficult children.
    My friend requires a lot of energy and energy. I am not a "phone person" and I do not kid when I say she will call me at least 5 times a day all the way to 16 times in one day (that is my highest count so far). She is always asking for favors, rides, etc. for her and her kids. Now, I am not someone who likes to rely on others; I am very self-sufficient and like to be that way, but I know not everyone is like that, so I don't fault her a great deal for being less independent.
    I cannot express enough how dramatic she is. I have never in my 36 years of life seen a person who thinks every splinter needs surgery and 15 hours of sleep is a catnap. Yes, there are a lot of things about her that drive me to insanity. But, I must tell you all that I have a difficult time with people. Friends seem to be a lot of responsibility that I don't have time for. I would love to have friends, but not ones that call every day or need something from me on a daily basis and I don't know if that makes me "unfriendly".
    You are all right, with everything you said and nobody can "fix" my difficult child 2. If it could be"fixed", does she not think that I would want to "fix" things for him?!!!! I think that I will try talking to her nicely about setting boundaries and that doesn't work, I will have no choice but to end the friendship. I just suck at things like that and it hurts me when I've hurt somebody.

    Quick question: I personally feel that I can't apologize for the way I feel, but I will apologize if I don't express my feelings the way that I should have. Do you think that I am wrong? I just believe that all people have their own thoughts, feelings, concerns,etc. and they should be able to express them ONE time, anything more then that, then I feel like they are trying to get me to change and do things their way.

    Well, I will let you all get back to your day. thank you so much for all of your feedback. It is really amazing how this site makes me feel like I have so much support. It is a wonderful thing. Melinda
  12. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    If you view friends as all being like your friend - very needy and demanding of your attentions - then I don't blame you, I would feel the same.

    We each have our own lives to live, we're busy just living our own lives and generally don't have the time or energy to help someone else live their life too (or live it for them).

    Increasingly from what you say, she does sound like she needs a great deal of reassurance. You, on the other hand, sound like you project an air of self-sufficiency. You may not feel it, but becaause you seem to get along without obviously needing to be propped up by anyonoe, you have attracted someone who at least to begin with, has seen you as strong and independent. Part of her wants to be like you. But part of her also resents your self-sufficiency and needs you to need HER, and her advice regarding your son.

    I don't thik you need to end the friendship, necessarily. It is possible to ease back a bit, maybe say to her, "I've got a lot of things happening over the next few weeks, I won't be available except maybe once in the evenings. I'll be either out or busy during the day, so if you want to ring me, can you write down what it's about and maybe call me later in the evening for a chat and we can talk about everything all at once? If we plan ahead, we can each have a cup of coffee handy while we talk, it will be good."
    And if she calls during the day when you've said you're not available, then check the caller ID and don't answer, if it's her. As with kids, you have to follow through.

    I've had a very needy 'friend' who in reality was competing with me as well as using me to bolster her own ego. She would also tell me everything about her life, often over and over again, going back over old hurts from her sisters and her mother. Some of the things she told me horrified me (her mother really sounded like a nut case) but I know there are two sides. She also told me about everyone else in her life, including all her friends at church. I would invite her to an event when I knew she would be alone on a special day (such as Christmas) but find that despite her stated loneliness, she had actually made some good arrangements for herself and done well. So I stopped worrying about her in that respect.
    However, I soon began to take note of exactly when she would call. I knew her tastes in TV programs and learned not to call her when her favourite TV shows were on or I would get abused and she would hang up on me. Mind you, if I did thta back to her, she would get very upset with me.
    Then I began to notice a pattern of calling behaviour - not every time, but often, te phone would ring as the final credits were rolling, of a TV show I knew she would have been watching. So I began to get husband to answer the phone (before we had caller ID) and 99% of the time it was her. I knew that if she really wanted to talk to ME, she would call back. If she rang NOT at the end of a TV show, she generally would call back if I wasn't available. So I knew that most of the time she was calling out of sheer boredom. If I wasn't available she would go to the next person on the list.

    I knew who else was on her list, because when she did talk to me I would often be told, "I just spoke to so-and-so," and I could mentally 'hear' the sequence of calls she had made just to find someone willing to listen. It also made me guard my tongue because just as she was quoting so-and-so, she would also be quoting me. Or misquoting.

    I finally had to cut off my friendship with this person because she at times got very abusive. She's not stable and in her unstable times got very nasty with me to the point where I had to refuse her calls. However, about that time she stopped calling. Her competing with me became more obvious at the same time.

    I also wasn't the only target - I'm still around her a lot and I see this behaviour in her a great deal, with other people. One woman in particular, she has developed an intense hatred for and will publicly verbally abuse her (embarrassing in meetings).

    What I'm saying - just because you can't manage this friendship to your satisfaction, don't expect all friendships to be like this. The girl I'm talking about here (technically "woman" but she's never really grown up past about the age of 14) is not typical. I don't think your friend is either. True friendship is very give and take and she sounds like she's all take. It's lovely that your kids are friends, I understand you wanting to keep that. But do keep a very close eye on the friendship because far more often than not, kids behave like their parents. You say this girl does a lot for your son, helps him a lot. Again, that is not a healthy friendship if it's all one way. Your son needs to be the helpER sometimes, not just the helpEE. Even if you have to encourage him and remind him to do something kind for her "just because", he needs to do this for his own emotional growth and self-respect. The girl needs to learn to be helped, instead of always being the one helping.

    You say you don't like owing anyone anything. My father was like this, to a fault. In a lot of ways it's a good thing, because if you don't owe anyone anything, then you cna't have it held over you if the other person wants you to do something you don't want to do.

    Really, in order to cool this off to a point where you can tolerate it better, all you need to do is to be less available for a while. She needs to learn to not lean on you so hard, you need to get a chance to breathe for a bit without feeling like she's glued to your side. No wonder you find it overwhelming, if she's calling you so much!

    People form relationships and friendships for many different reasons. A good friend of mine collects lame ducks. She will admit it when confronted with it but has inside her a desperate need to help otherpeople. She is kind, loving and generous, but has got herself into some awful situations because the "lame duck" she began helping turned out to be a snake in the grass. And because I'm also a friend (one who often gets put on the shelf for a time as not needing her so much, I can be set aside to wait my turn while she sees to the sudden greater need of a new toy) I have a coupleof times found myself attacked by the lame duck turned snake in the grass, because I am a threat to the snake's monopoly of the helper.
    Sorry, it sounds complex.

    What I mean is - the person who is a natural helper can find herself getting badly hurt because the sort of person who can seem needy is really a professional leech who doesn't want to lose a profitable meal ticket, or share it.

    Friendship shouldn't be complicated, or too much hard work. Friendship should be fairly easy. If you don't feel it comes naturally to you, then you may need to learn some social techniques of friendship (a counsellor can help). Some simple rules can help. But it needs to be balanced, there needs to be mutual support and communication, there needs to be trust and understanding. A friendship is only as deep as these exist. It's OK to have a shallow friendship as long as you don't expect it to be more than it is.

    True friendships happen. They do require some input from both, but if you're good friends it's easy to put in the effort. If you find it too much a chore, then you need to think - is this really a good enough friendship to justify this effort?

    You can set the limits and the boundaries. If you need help, then invent a reason to be unavailable (but make sure it's consistent, even if you have to go get a part-time job or have someone else take your calls during certain times).

    A useful tool in this situation is the religious retreat. Go away for a weekend (take your kids if you don't feel comfortable leaving them with anyone - DON'T leave them with this friend for this purpose!) and just relax. Take some time out from stress to just unwind, read a book, go for a walk, contemplate the universe and your place in it.

    Because when you've got someone so thoroughly in your space, it's very hard to think clearly about your relationship with them with any sense of perspective.

  13. Mattsmom277

    Mattsmom277 Active Member

    Gosh, I had a friend like that for years. She would do much the same regarding my difficult child. Her son turned out very well, however I would have to say from where I sit, the kid did it on his own. As she spent her energy trying to tell me what to do/say etc with my difficult child, she ridiculed her son, openly told him he would never amount to anything, begrudged him all of his success over the years, the names she would openly call him (in front of her friends, family and her sons friends) I can't type here. She also would do the same about the last relationship I was in. She has a S/O but bashes him (behind his back, poor guy, he's a great guy, single dad raising his 2 boys, he's a catch) and refuses to live with him, marry him etc. Then she couldn't pretend he would treat her badly i guess. But she would tell ME to leave my previous S/O. Then she'd tell me that I don't know what I have, what would I ever do if I left him, why WOULD I ever leave him? Then when we did part ways, she was there pointing the finger telling me how I"d made the right choice. Then when I met my now S/O, she started again. On and on she would go.
    I ended the friendship. Just stopped taking her calls. When she finally did get through to me I was honest and told her that we are very different people and I can't be around what i consider to be negative in spite of the things that drew her into my friendship circle initially.
    It sounds like you value your friend but for this problem. I am sorry she's blind to this affecting you. Maybe no more talking about your difficult child's issues with her, rather do so with other friends or family? I hope you figure something out. Urgh!
  14. ML

    ML Guest

    I think your friendship needs are right on and you just need to meet other people of like mind. I'm coming off an intense friendship that had me inadvertantly in the rescuer role. My friend is in an emotionally abusive relationship and she refuses to change the things she can change to make it better. I finally realize she gets something out of being a victim and she really doesn't want to help herself. So I plan to tell her that I want to be her friend but I can't talk about her relationship because I'm frustrated and powerless to help her.
  15. ML- You said exactly what my mom says to me all the time...that I need to find people of like mind. She is always asking where I find these people and the truth is, I didn't find them, they were inherited so to speak from another friend, etc. And yes, like you, I am in the role of a rescuer! I hope it works out with your friend as well. Thank u.
    Mattsmom277-Yes, my friend and I are VERY different-almost in every way, really and much of the time her drama is very negative and I find that it greatly impacts my mood at times and I hate that. I plan on setting boundaries with her at some point in the week and I guess that alone could determine our friendship. If I can't make her feel good about her life, she may no longer feel the need to be friends. T
    Marguerite-You brought up a few things I hadn't thought of. I too, can predict much of the time when she will call and if she can't get ahold of me she will just go down the line. If I don't answer the phone after a few hours, she actually calls the only other friend I have and asks her if shes heard from me because she is worried about me because of the difficult situation our family is in with our difficult child 2 issues. She very much uses difficult child 2 as a way to find out what I am doing when not talking to her. I am sorry to hear that the friendship you had with a particular friend was a difficult one.
    You are right when you say that children can behave like their parents. Her daughter is very much like her and I do have a couple issues with her. But overall, she is a genuinely nice girl. My difficult child 2 is good for her in ways that I can't really explain. He pushes her outside of her tiny bubble. He would do anything for her within his capabilities, of course. They do have a give and take friendship at this point. She has a low self-esteem and he genuinely and freely compliments her which puts a smile on her face. Maybe as they get older, things will be different, but for now, it seems to be a pretty even friendship.

    Thank you for saying shallow friendships are ok. I have always felt it was if I didn't expect it to be more, but again, I always second guess if the way I feel is a sane way of thinking. I admit I have to work at friendship because I never had long-term friendships. My step-father was in the military and we moved ALOT, so we'd make awesome friends and then lose them. I never felt the need once I got older to have close friends when my father finally settled in one place. My friendship with this person started easy enough and remained that way until lately. Her needs seem to be greater, advice seems to constant and I guess I am just struggling with, as you said, someone being so thoroughly in my space. I will try boundaries first, but as I wrote to mattsmom277, I think she will end the friendship before too long when she doesn't get what she needs from me.

    -Thk u and good night all. Melinda
  16. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    Melinda, watch out. She already knows a great deal about you. Let your friend-in-common know that you are needing to give yourself some space IN GENERAL but do not say anything more.

    The friend I mentioned in my previous post hasn't used any information about me as leverage or currenct with anyone (she's too self-centred, frankly, to remember any detail about my life) but I have seen other friends burned (my friend who collects lame ducks) and there was another 'friend' of mine who began to go behind my back and accused me of being unstable (and a whole lot of other things). Coming form him, it was a bit rich and at first I ignored it (but cut off all contact with him) because most people who know this guy, know him to be someone who alientates friends. But he began saying things to a group I worked with. He also began gossiping about me and pumping my friends for information about me. Always words said in ever-so-caring a way ("Have you seen my good friend Marg lately? I've been so worried for her, knowing how she's been battling addiction to pain medications for years, it's no wonder she's been so emotional lately...")

    So go carefully. Think back over things you've confided to her.

    In my case, I didn't tell my 'friend' off, he'd already made his position clear and I simply stopped responding to him. It's taken years but he's stopped trying to find out about me (I had to clamp down on ALL information and confide in nobody; I did tell my doctor and the pharmacist, so when medications are prescribed and dispensed they would be very discreet if this guy were around).

    It would be so innocent - I was talking to a friend at church while we were washing up. My friend asked how my job was gonig. I replied, "It's very variable because it involves publishing. We've just had a very busy time finalising the recent issue but now it's gone to the printer's we've got a couple of weeks' down time before it gets busy again. I've got fewer hours this week, thank goodness."
    This woman is not a gossip, but after church she dropped in at the local cafe where 'friend' was relaxing (and taling to passers-by like he was village mayor). The guy greeted her chattily and at some point asked her how I was as in "How's my friend Marg, I believe she's enjoying her new job."
    Her response may have been innocent - she didn't kow to not talk to this creep and what she DID say would have been innocent. She probably said, "she was just telling me that her hours will be a bit easier for the next couple of weeks."
    The next thing - word was going around town that I was about to lose my job.

    So I learned to say nothing about myself to anybody. That way any tales that came back would be total fabrication and not the slightest chance of misunderstanding.

    If you look around your own world you will recognise different levels of friendship. The bloke at the vegetable shop - you probably know him by sight, he knows you by sight maybe. He may even know your choice in fruit & vegetables. But you probably wouldn't sit down and have coffee with him. However, it's still a form of friendship.
    You probably hve a lot of people you know and quite like, but if you didn't see them for a few weeks you might not notice. But you probably hve other friends whose company you enjoy and who you miss if you don't see them regularly.

    This changes over time. Think back to who were your friends ten years ago. Twenty years ago. Why were they your friends? Where are they now?

    So be gentle with her, maybe just be less available and tell her you will be very busy for the next few weeks. Stop telling her (or your other friend for a while) anything about difficult child 2. Maybe even put as positive a spin on him as possible. "He's doing really well lately, I think all our concerns from the past are behind us. Thank you for all your advice, I won't be needing it any more now that he's doing so much better." If she sees him raging, then make it clear that all kids shout and yell a little now and then, this is just typical teen stuff (even if you know this is all rubbish).

    it would be interesting to know how she would react to this.

    You need your own space. Maybe even use your answering machine to screen your calls, if you haven't got someone else to answer the phone for you. I've had to do that in the past.

    I hope it goes OK for you.