Experienced moms: What would you do? (Long)

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by MidwestMom, May 17, 2007.

  1. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Problem: (I'll try to summarize) We live in a very small town. There are about twenty girls in the entire fifth grade. My daughter is a good kid with some self-esteem issues due to being Learning Disability (LD). She is mostly mainstreamed now, but still feels a little insecure. On the plus side, she's a dynamite athlete and likes to hang with others who are very active and they tend to be "popular."

    Nicole hooked up with two kids who are good female athletes like her. I will call them P. and S. Every couple of weeks Nicole would come home crying that P. has turned all the kids against her. I'm friends (or was) with P's mom. She has been very kind to us and has lent us her extra car when we didn't have one. But P. is a mean kid and other kids are scared of her and act mean around her in order to impress her. My kid is a nice girl, and hates when P. picks on anyone, and falls apart when P. picks on her. S. is P.'s lapdog, but she is a much nicer girl and Nicole and S. really get along.

    Still with me? Thanks...lol. There was a party a few weeks ago, and P. and S. smart mouthed the mother of the girl having the party. They got angry because the mother told them to come inside because it was dark, so P. said to the mother she was "on strike against" the mother's daughter and that she and her friends won't go in. The mother said they go inside or go home so three of the girls went home, but Nicole was trying to mediate and consoling the girl whose party had fallen apart. Two weeks later P. was still picking on Nicole for not choosing her side and going home too. Ready for more? LOL. I'm sorry.

    I called P's mother to try to get her to understand that P. is picking on my daughter for this. She had no idea that P. had mouthed off to this other mom, nor did she believe it. She said that Nicole had started it. I called the mother who had the party and she said that Nicole had been really nice--that P. and S. had been the "brats." Bottom line: It turns out that P. is mean to lots of kids, and I just told Nicole that she isn't a real friend if she's mean to her and that she should be pleasant to P. at school and during softball, but that she can't hang around with her outside of school. Nicole is not only sensitive, but she changes her own behavior for the worst around P. Meanwhile S. and Nicole are getting friendly again and without P., S. is fine. I told Nicole she can play with S., but not with P. Is this connecting? Now my ex-friend is blaming me because P. is feeling picked on. She believes the lies that P. has said about my daughter, and I don't really care, but was I wrong to tell my daughter not to play with P? The parents are in denial that the girl is not a nice kid (she's not). My daughter does not miss playing with P. at all, and is fine with only seeing S. when P. isn't around. My daughter has many other friends. Why do I feel guilty? If you followed this, can you give your opinion? I feel like P. won't improve her behavior if her parents believe her lies and don't discipline her. She is an acknowledged problem in the community. She doesn't break the law or anything like that (not yet), but she's know for saying very cruel things to other kids and for just being nasty. Nicole can be a follower and her hanging around with P. worries me...
  2. wakeupcall

    wakeupcall Well-Known Member

    This is only my two bits.......I think at this age, you CAN control who your children associate with. At a later age, it will become very difficult. SO, I would try to redirect my child. NOW, the other side of the coin is that I HAVE a difficult child who isn't very nice most of the time (to anyone or anything). I THINK he can't help it and having zero friends would seriously hurt his self-esteem. Yea, a double-edged sword.
  3. tiredmommy

    tiredmommy Well-Known Member

    My Duckie is like S in all this. She and her best friend (P) are horrid around other kids: controlling, mean, cruel. Duckie lacks a spine when it comes to her boyfriend, doing & saying things she would never do without the other around. We (both sets of parents) ended up keeping them separated from one another since last summer, except dance class where they don't interact too much. It's worked,overall, in that the girls have started to learn how to be better friends to other kids.
    Should you feel guilty about keeping Nicole away from P? No way. It's okay to feel bad for P, but at some point Nicole is your top concern. Also, you may end up helping S in the long run by showing her what life without P's antics can be like.
  4. WhymeMom?

    WhymeMom? No real answers to life..

    <span style='font-family: Comic Sans MS'>Sounds to me like you have picked a good course of action. I would not speak ill of P, just say that when the girls are together they don't bring out the best in each other and let it drop. P's mom will probably never take off the blinders so why go there? P will probably try to influence S to stay away from your child, so I would be prepared to find new friendships for your daughter. Sounds like other parents (the party girl's) know what's up with P so you don't need to spread the word, P will handle that...

    The best thing you can do is prepare your daughter for different kinds of people she will meet in her lifetime and she needs to be aware they aren't always going to be her friend, even though they pretend to...

    Keep doing what you're doing.....</span>

  5. Big Bad Kitty

    Big Bad Kitty lolcat

    I think the fact that you feel "bad" for P shows that you have a heart, even though P has been cruel to many kids, including Nicole. It is unfortunalte that some parents refuse to see that their child has any faults, and the one who will suffer in the longrun, is P.

    Given the girls age, I would have done the exact same thing. As has been mentioned, this can and should be used as a learning tool for Nicole that there are lots of different people in this world, and the best thing to do is to stick with the winners.
  6. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    We went through this with easy child, from about age 6. We'd moved her to the school near home and virtually on Day 1, easy child (who is a very friendly girl) chummed up with A, who invited her home to play. I got friendly with A's mother, our family was just beginning to go to their church as well.

    easy child & A stayed friends for a few weeks, more friends came out of the woodwork. But easy child is a bright kid and extremely moral. A began to apply the emotional blackmail - "I'm not friends with B today, I've decided I don't like her. And you're not to play with her either, or you're not my friend."

    easy child talked to us about this - she liked B as a friend, didn't want to be mean to someone who had only been kind to her. Then she found herself being ostracised by A. Then a lot of other kids began to ostracise her too. easy child began to feel very lonely. She couldn't even be sure of a friendship with B, since whenever A crooked her finger to say she would accept B as a friend, B would go running. Whatever A said, went. easy child would get invited to friend's houses, but not if A was going to be there. Unless, of course, A decided that she was prepared to be friends with easy child. But since easy child never obeyed her, A tended to never forgive her. Basically, easy child worked out that a friend who asks you to go against your nature, or to be mean to someone else, is not a friend in any way.

    A may have thought she was popular, but in reality none of the kids liked her, most were also afraid of her. Physically she was a tiny little thing, very insecure. She always used emotional blackmail as much as she could. From what we saw due to seeing the family at church, this was a lot. She was a problem child, frankly. Of course her parents thought she was a good kid, that other people were the ones with the problem. But for A personally, she was the forgotten child in the family, with talented and beautiful older siblings who got all the attention.

    easy child was lonely but wouldn't compromise her principles. We had many talks in which she wailed that nobody liked her, that she had no friends (and I know she had a few, who were never involved in A's manipulations). But we also had talks in which she vowed she wouldn't let A win. When B invited easy child over to play, and then before easy child had time to leave rang up discreetly to say, "Don't come now - A just arrived," easy child took it in the spirit it was intended - B was not being mean, she was trying to play both ends. easy child could see that by playing A's game, B was a nervous wreck because the only way to play A's game safely was to be deceitful.

    Then a few years later the pre-teen parties began. At 11, easy child was invited to a sleepover at Bs, and there were going to be boys present as well (for a sleepover!?) easy child wanted to be with her friends, but not if there were to be boys. So she made ME forbid her to go! I let her go, but told her she had to be home because we had an early start next morning to visit her grandparents. easy child was very grateful.

    Now let's flash forward a few years. I moved easy child back to a city school after only two years at the local school. Meanwhile, these mind games of A's continued. We crossed paths with them at church, but by this stage easy child was refusing to go to church. A's parents were by this stage fairly involved in a lot of areas and easy child couldn't stand their hypocrisy, especially where A was concerned.

    In early teens, A was sneaking out of her room at night to hang around in the street bludging free alcohol off whoever would give it to her. Because we live in a small town, this wasn't simply a matter of rumour - we saw her. Of course, her parents' method of checking up on these rumours was to ask her point blank - "A, if you were drinking in the street late at night you would tell us, wouldn't you."
    "Of course, Mum."
    "OK, then." End of discussion.
    A was also reported to be sneaking out for other activities also. We do know she was using drugs as well as alcohol, and sleeping around, before she was 15.
    And again her mother would ask her point blank - "A, if you were taking drugs you would tell us, wouldn't you?"
    "Of course, Mum."
    "OK, then." End of discussion.
    Her parents worried she wasn't doing well in school and let her leave to get a job.

    Over these years easy child would run into old friends. B is still around - a lovely girl, but still always trying to please everybody. Low self-esteem, no strength of character. A is still around - she's lived with a series of BFs but can't sustain a stable relationship. Job-wise drifts from one to another, although she's a smart kid and could do well for herself. Emotionally - unhappy, lonely. Old friends have grown up and got a backbone, or simply moved away from her influence.

    easy child is polite to her if she sees her, but very scathing otherwise. Pities her, for never learning the right way to interact.

    My recommendation to you - explain to your daughter that these girls are being mean and this behaviour is unacceptable. However, they are not going to change. I could never get through to A's parents what she was really doing. If I had tried they would have been angry with me. They get angry and judgemental easily.
    easy child was lonely for a time - about 18 months - and accepted friendship from those of her friends who were too weak to stand up to A. When these friends were being mean, or ignoring her, easy child ignored it as something of A's manufacture. However, she did not invest herself too deeply in any of those friendships.

    Changing schools, and later going to high school, gave all these girls a different circle of friends. With friends other than those under A's influence, many of these girls have done well. But I look at easy child, who stood up for what was right even though it meant she was friendless, and who is now using that confidence and sense of justice in her work. She chose to be lonely and know exactly who her real friends were, rather than allow herself to be tormented emotionally by an emotional cripple.

    easy child is happy and doing well in life. her confidence in herself carried her through some hard times, supporting herself and BF1 while she was studying at uni. She knows what she wants and has worked hard to get it, maintaining her focus throughout.

    A is a mess. I think she was especially hard on easy child because A recognised a strong character who wouldn't play her silly mind games, and who called her bluff. So she had to try to sabotage her as best as she could.

    Give your daughter a hug, reassure her that she is a decent person, let her know the world is unfair but in some ways, P will get justice. Because like A, P will never learn the right way to be a friend, and will therefore spend most of her life unsure, suspicious of every person she knows, and overall - very much alone, even in a crowded room. Your daughter is learning a hard lesson NOW - some people are fair weather friends, and it's best to not be one of those, either. You daughter will grow up knowing how it feels to have someone be mean to you, and so will not be mean to others. She is likely to be a good and loyal friend who will be valued as such by others. This will be a valuable asset in the rest of her life.

    It will be tough around these girls. Give her plenty of social opportunities totally away from this circle, before they succeed in poisoning her goodness.

  7. slsh

    slsh member since 1999

    Awww MWM.... Queen Bee's and Wanna Bee's. Little girls are something else. I think you handled this perfectly.

    Recently had a very similar situation with Diva. I know she lied, just am not positive about what - but strongly suspect she protected 2 "friends", took the blame for a particularly nasty *nasty* note written in class that I think girl #1 wrote. These 2 girls are okay individually, but together they are toxic and old Diva gets sucked right in.

    I've told Diva she can associate with- these girls at school but they are no longer allowed to call here or come over. Told these girls the same thing when they called. Interestingly, they now call giving other names (gotta love caller ID). husband and I really wrestled with- discussing the problem with- #1's parents, but finally decided that we'd run into the same thing you have... "Not my little angel".

    I cannot abide by meaness for meaness' sake. And lying is the #1 item in basket A around here with- the pcs. Clinically, it's a really fascinating phenomenon, watching these 9 y/o's manipulate and wield their social power, but as a mother it sets my hair on fire.

    Been working with- Diva (who is the ultimate drama queen) on what a "friend" is, on what defines a "good" person. Also a lot of discussion about how friends will change over the years - who she played with- in K is not who she plays with- now, and it will continue to change as years go by.

    We're also in a relatively small town, though not as small as yours. I'm sure the social circle will vary over the years but I do suspect these other 2 girls are going to just get more toxic. It's funny because while Diva can verbalize very well that people are friends with- girl #1 because she has pretty clothes and they don't want to get on her "wrong" side, she also freely admits #1 is mean. We haven't yet made the connection that it's really not important to be liked by the mean girls because... well, they're *mean*!

    Please don't feel guilty. While I think it's important to try to stay hands off with- most of Diva's dramas, I do think there are rare times when I have to intervene. To protect her but also more importantly to try to teach her, reinforce the Golden Rule, and also empower her a bit. Just remembering my own childhood, it was hard to stand up for myself, to not be at the mercy of the Queen Bee's. I think it's very positive to teach our girls that friends are not mean, to our kids or to others, and that picking on other children for whatever reason is unacceptable. Our girls are better than that. I don't want Diva to be a Queen Bee, nor do I want her to be a follower or protector of the Queen. She needs to not only know the difference between right and wrong, but also have the strength to back up her convictions.

    It's a hard lesson to learn and a really gray area most of the time. Again, in this case, I think you were absolutely right on.
  8. rejectedmom

    rejectedmom New Member

    Deciding what is best for your own daughter and enforcing it is fine. I would not try to make the other mother understand that her daughter is mean. It is useless she is in denial. The mother of the girl who had the party should have notified those girl's parents as soon as it happened. She didn't and she won't so you have no one to back up your version. Let all that go. Do not gossip about the girls with other parents. You are only responsibile for your own daughter. Other parents will make their own decisions based on their own experiences. -RM
  9. Hound dog

    Hound dog Nana's are Beautiful

    I think your course of action is appropriate. You have a small window left in which you can help guide your daughter on the appropriate type of person to consider a friend. Once they hit the teen years they stop listening.

    Your not going to get your ex-friend to believe you. It's obvious she is in denial over her daughters behavior.

    My easy child was good about getting herself into these positions in grade school. She wanted to be everyone's friend. Took me forever to help teach her that certain behaviors aren't to be tolerated in a so called friend.
  10. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Wow! I came home and look at all the input! Thanks so much! I think the hardest part is that P.'s mom said, "Well, if you feel that way about my daughter...I don't see how we can be friends." I really was trying to work out a way to let them stay friends, and I even said Nicole may be responsible for some things (maybe she is, but I have a *had* a "stinker" kid, and I sure knew it--nobody had to tell me--and Nicole is a nice girl). I'm going to restrict her time with P. to school and softball (my hub and her father coach together--nice, huh? :)) I already told her that she is not allowed to trash P. to the other kids or be mean to her, just ignore her if she's mean, and play with her other friends. Nicole not hanging around with P. anymore has already affected S. in a positive way (I think), and S. is going to the school counselor to tell him that P. has been hitting her (P., for some reason, likes to slap S. around. She won't hit Nicole because Nicole is strong.
    Nicole understands kids with disorders from kids who seem to be mean for no reason. She is the biggest champion of a very bright boy with Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD)-not otherwise specified in her grade. P. calls him "bad" and Nicole always sticks up for him, chooses him for a partner, asks him to her party, etc. Nicole's brother has Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD)-not otherwise specified and she goes ballistic if anyone makes fun of either her brother or her classmate. I'm told she's very kind to this child, even though he isn't always in the mood to be friendly. He does like her and always waves to her and smiles when he sees her. She also has a friend who was born with cancer (very sad, but the kid is full of spirit). P's mom is always telling me how mean this girl with cancer is, and the child CAN be mean, but P's mom cuts this little girl NO slack for maybe not feeling well or being on medication. The child has no hair-she was born that way-and when S. was with P. she told her "nobody likes you because you look so gross. No boy will ever go out with you." The child's mother heard it. So S. can be very cruel too when she is with P. Parents have reported to me that Nicole is NOT like this, even with P., but why push it? If I thought P. had a disorder or a bad home life--well, I tend to give kids the benefit of the doubt, and if parents work with me, I will try to include that child. But P. is an honor's student with a family who loves her and four nice siblings. She's good in sports. I feel like I have no choice but to keep Nicole away from her--thanks for the support.
    I feel much better now. (((Hugs)))
  11. Kjs

    Kjs Guest

    I think you did the right thing. My difficult child would be a very loyal friend, and do what anyone wanted to keep a friend. However, difficult child is mean and lashes out when things don't go his way. Isn't picky on who he lashes out with, thus lack of any friends. He once asked me if I was another childs parent would I let them "hang out" with him. I told him no, not when you are saying mean things. He was sad because he doesn't get in trouble, or vandalize or any violent things, but how would other parents know than when he is mouthing off? I feel bad for difficult child, but he has dug his own hole, just as P has. I do tell difficult child to always give others more than one chance, they can realize they made a mistake and try to change. Hopefully, P will get it and change her ways. If all parents did as you did, P would be forced to take a look at herself and her behaviors.
  12. flutterbee

    flutterbee Guest

    I think you did the right thing. If P.'s mom were truly interested in hearing the truth, she would have talked to the other friend's parents. She's obviously happier with her head in the sand. If P's mom were addressing this with her daughter, I would probably continue to let my daughter play with P to see if things change, although more supervised.
  13. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    It is really frustrating when you see a bully like P, get sanctioned by the school. A good friend of ours changed schools this year for her daughter because the bullying was institutionalised, endorsed and getting worse. Her daughter had been badly picked on via the peer support kids (great!) and the worst of the lot was later elected school captain and won a swag of awards for citizenship. This girl was also in difficult child 3's class when he was at the same school - My friend is right. But this bully is clever, she uses words more than physical stuff, and she knows how to wound. Maybe she'll grow out of it - she is in high school now- or maybe she will rise to the top, like pond scum. But one day, somewhere, she WILL learn that it is wrong.

    Same with P.

    I find it interesting that Ps mother was so ready to but your daughter (and you) loose as friends - methinks she protesteth too much. She's been down this road before, with people approaching her to tip her off about her daughter's behaviour. And if you think about it, her method of dealing with your news is similar tactics to her daughter's interactions - "If you say something I don't want to hear, you are not my friend."
    She has just put conditions on your friendship - there are areas you are not permitted to go. This immediately takes a step back from true friendship, where you CAN tell a friend something like this and have them at least give you a hearing.

    So now you know where P gets it from.

    Walk away, you AND your daughter. You're both better off looking for friendship where you're going to find it, rather than where it's already conditional in unpleasant, dishonest ways.

    A 'friend' like this is not going to be around when you're going through a tough time. I hope you never confided in her to any great extent. If you did, get ready for damage control NOW.

  14. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Thank you so much, Marguarite. Your post made me feel so much better. She's really (the mom) a very nice person, but it's true that I tried to work it out with her, without using derogatory language about her daughter (I said "some kids can be stinkers; I know Nicole can at times, and my first son--I used to hear from others all the time, blah, blah, blah). This is true. My first son used to instigate trouble, but we got him into therapy and sat on him. He is now a very nice, kind, caring adult, but we stepped in fast and early. I didn't want this to affect my friendship with this lady. Basically she said that if I think negative things about P. that we can't be friends. Trust me, at this point in time, it isn't breaking my heart. I'm just glad Nicole isn't home every afternoon in tears. My ex-friend told me Nicole has to get a thicker skin, and she's right, in a way, but she's also only ten years old. She IS kind of tough. She's a black kid in an almost all white school district and has learned to take care of herself. My ex-friend was basically telling me that it's Nicole's fault that it hurt her feelings when P. was mean to her. She even said "P. has a dry sense of humor and Nicole takes it too seriously." That could be partly true, but I still don't want any more of this. Nicole has a lot of friends; she doesn't need P. bossing her around. I feel we made a solid decision, and all of you helped me feel better as hub is just too angry to be objective. (((Hugs again)))) I needed this support.
  15. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    Stick to your decision. Nicole is going to have it tough enough, being black and female in a world which is still sexist and racist. being tough to a certain extent will help, but that should never be a justification for bullying. And if her daughter needs no correction, no counselling, no chat from Mummy saying, "Honey, you need to be a bit more careful with your teasing and sarcasm or you will lose friends," then why bother to parent at all? Clearly, P is now a finished product, mature and wise in the ways of the world. A perfect child, of whom other mothers are so jealous that they feel compelled to make up these stories about her, which perfect daughter denies with wide-eyed innocence.

    Oh dear, oh dear! I would not want to be Ps mum when puberty hits! When P insists she's NOT been out drinking, or having underage sex, that this pregnancy is immaculate conception...

    This is a good lesson for Nicole.

    But be careful - Nicole needs to guard her mouth, so do you. Not only do it, but be SEEN to keep mouths shut about any rift between you guys and P's family.
    And I tell you this as someone else from a very small town. We are an isolated, small community with clear boundaries and nothing beyond but wilderness. Everybody knows everybody, as well as everybody's business. I have successfully kept a lot of things private, but only by not confiding in my closest friends. When I do confide, it is in very small amounts and then I wait. And listen, to what comes back. That way I know who I can trust, and who to not confide in. Even best friends can spill beans that should have stayed in the jar.

    Mind you, this can be a fascinating game, if you can detach emotionally.

    For us, we got away from the social ramifications of a split with P (or equivalent) by moving the kids to a school well out of this village. Many other parents here are doing the same, because the current bullying (which includes gossip at the level of teacher, student and parent) is just too much. By removing ourselves we feel very smug these days, especially as our kids are happier, feel smarter and have more confidence.

    On the subject of black person in white neighbourhood, I saw Oprah today (remember, our episodes are way out of sync with the US) and she had one of my favourite actors - Sydney Poitier. His book, his work, his life - it's inspirational. Someone there (it was a dinner party for his 80th birthday - not fair, he looks so good at 80 when I won't) commented that the support he was given when young and working as a dishwasher, he paid forward to all the African-American people trying to make their way. I consider it goes further - he paid it forward for everybody who has a rough start, who begins with disadvantages but whose determination keeps them trying again and again. They were promoting his book - I'm heading out to get a copy. I was thinking, some of his philosophies would be very helpful for Nicole in this situation. And for my young friend, too - I will get them a copy of the book as well.

    You've done good here and Nicole sounds like a really good kid.