Do you have that one friend who’s child is continuously misbehaving and puts a whole damper on the mood?
No?, well I have such a friend.
Parenting is hard work. The older I get, the more I respect my mother for her sacrifices and not going off on the deep end after raising three girls. And while I have no living children of my own, my first was born stillborn, I had already discussed with my husband the parenting style that we would incorporate.
It is hard sometimes to not express an opinion on a matter that your friend seems to be struggling with. I could go into detail the numerous struggles that my friend is enduring, but I am going to focus this post on their parenting method and how it is ultimately affecting the friendship.
You see, this friend feels some guilt for not providing the best home environment for their child in their early life and as a result does not discipline them very well. I will not get into the whole debate about discipline vs. punishment, but I think we can all agree that there need to be boundaries established at a young age so that these mini adults can function well in society.
The problem with this friend’s parenting style is that they merely threaten to take the video games away or they threaten to have them sit in their room for a certain length of time, or they threaten to put them in timeout, etc. They simply just threaten but do not follow through with what was promised, and the child knows that. While this bothers me because I saw how flustered and stressed my friend is, I say nothing because ultimately that is her child and she has to live with the attitude.
My issue is when that child’s behavior has a direct negative effect on either I or my husband. Now my friend’s child adores my husband because he is silly and he will actually get down and play make believe or assist him with the newest video game. But this child does not respect boundaries, he constantly hits my husband and pulls on him, and will throw a tantrum while out in public. Simply put, it gets old real fast when you are trying to enjoy your meal, and you have a child constantly pulling and hitting you, and the parents do nothing. They say nothing, in fact, you start to feel like an unpaid babysitter because they only talk amongst themselves and leave you to fend off their child.
This all came to a head not too long ago when my husband asked if I would sit next to the child at dinner because he had been fasting all day for this large meal and just wanted to enjoy it. When said friends arrived, I tried to switch seats with my husband, which turned out to be a ‘mood killer’ for the rest of the evening. My friend got very offended, took her child to the restroom and I assume they talked for they came back and would not engage us in conversation. I tried to reach out after the dinner to explain that I was not trying to offend nor was I trying to hurt the child’s feelings.
In fact, after reaching out to me, she decided to completely end the friendship because she thought that by me asking her to step in and explain to her child that he should not hit others, I was hateful and a terrible friend.
So, if you are one those parents that have a wild child, please be understanding if your friend spaces out get-togethers or just stops coming by entirely. I get it parenting is hard, I have seen the toll it takes on others, but do not allow a friendship to dissolve because your friend does not want to be your child’s punching bag.
P.s. I am open to any advice you may have.