Like it or not, as parents sometimes we have to do things that we don’t like in order to do what’s best for our kids. One of those things can be stopping them from staying in an unhealthy friendship. It isn’t something that any parent likes to do, but depending on the situation, you could very easily find yourself facing it. I did not too long ago. The most important thing to remember is that when kid friendships go bad? No one really wins.
As I said above, we just went through this with the Monkey Child. She had befriended a girl a year younger than her and right off the bat, I didn’t like her. I know. That sounds really bad, but if you were honest? You’ve met kids that you just didn’t like. It wasn’t that she was a bad kid, she wasn’t. In fact, she was a good kid. However, she was very spoiled and just had a generally bratty attitude. In addition to that, she refused to listen when she would come over to visit our home…refused to listen to the tune of my entire Bare Minerals collection. (She wanted to play dress up and the cheaper make up I purchase for Monkey to learn with wasn’t good enough apparently).
As I said, it wasn’t that this little girl wasn’t a good kid. She was. She just had a few habits that we do not allow the Monkey Child to have and whenever she came over, Emma’s attitude would change to match this other kids. Still, I didn’t say much. I firmly believe in letting my child choose her friends as long as those decisions are not having a truly negative or dangerous impact. A bratty attitude isn’t dangerous and it is corrected very quickly so it really isn’t a truly negative impact either.
That is until Emma came to me and told me that she didn’t really like it when she came over and informed me of some of the things that had happened while I was out of the room. Nothing horrible, just things that were much more disrespectful that I allow in my house. Needless to say, the friendship had gone bad and was working it’s way toward being truly soured and it was time for Mom (and Dad) to step in. The thing is, ending a friendship that your child has nurtured (whether or not they want to continue the friendship or not) can be delicate and even the friends who have become enemies can have a hard time dealing with it.
The first thing you should remember is that they will need time to cope with the loss of the friend. This is especially true if the friendship has taken place over the course of a few years. Give them their space and allow them to come to you when they are ready. Of course, asking them if they’re okay isn’t going to hurt, but be sure that you don’t hover or suffocate them. They will talk when they are ready. Be understanding that they just lost a part of their life and expect them to act out a bit. It’s okay if they do…that’s how kids deal with things sometimes.
Next, remember that it really isn’t either child’s fault. In our case, it really wasn’t this other girl’s fault. She had just been raised with different attitudes, different privileges and different rules than my Emma is raised with. Unfortunately, the two parenting styles didn’t really mesh and even my Emma could see that. Be careful that you don’t place blame on either child. You will do nothing but create more damage if you do.
I know this is hard, but try not to get too involved. Your kids might be your kids, but they also need to learn how to handle situations like this for themselves. I’m not saying that you shouldn’t be involved at all. Think of it as a “watch from afar until (and if) you’re needed” type of thing.
Lastly, be the adult in the situation. I would hope that if you’re old enough to have a child dealing with this that you’re old enough to consider yourself an adult. Don’t fight like a child with the other kid or his or her parents. Instead, let it be what it is…and end.
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