Childrearing

‘Sorry, You Can’t Be Friends With Her. I Can’t Stand Her Mother’

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Mama DramaIn the next decade, my daughter will have lots of friends. Some of them I’ll love, encouraging my little girl to invite them over every weekend. Others won’t be my favorite, and those will probably be the ones that my daughter likes the most.

When your children reach a certain age, you have to understand that you can’t choose their friends for them anymore. Between school and extra-curricular activities, kids find their own ways to build social networks, instead of trusting whoever their parents set up playdates with.

I know all this, and yet it’s still difficult to let go of the control when it comes to my little girl’s friends. At her young age, I still have plenty of interaction with her friend’s parents. We tend to do things together, not wanting to relinquish control of our kids to another person unless we know them extremely well. Playdates still include two parents sitting around making small talk as their kids entertain each other.

Because of this parental involvement, we still have a tendency to steer our children towards kids with parents that we enjoy. My daughter’s closest friends are normally the children of my closest friends. Even if the kids aren’t the same age or aren’t interested in the same things, that’s who my daughter sees on a weekly basis.

Recently, another mom (we’ll call her *Kate) and I had a disagreement. Kate is a good person and a caring mother. Her daughter is sweet and gets along very well with mine. The girls are friends.  Kate and I aren’t so much. We have very different personalities and different views on almost everything. Up until now, this would spell doom for my daughter’s relationship with Kate’s little girl. A year ago, I would have simply distracted my daughter with other friends, other activities.

However, I seem to have to crossed the threshold between parent-controlled friends and child-centered friends. Suddenly, my daughter doesn’t care how many cousins sleep over or friends come to the park. She’s chosen her BFF and it fits in with every teenage stereotype available. It’s the little girl that I would be least likely to choose.

So what does a grown adult do when her kids want to force you into a friendship with someone you don’t care for? I’m still the adult. I could simply say “No” whenever my little one asks to see Kate’s daughter. My girl wouldn’t be happy, but I assume that she would accept it after a while.

That plan of attack seems a little immature for the supposed adult in the situation though. As grown-ups, shouldn’t Kate and I be the ones who swallow our discontent and make the best of things for our daughters’ sake?

I know that this situation would be different if Kate and her daughter seemed to be bad influences on my little one. In a statement that reminds me way too much of my own mother when I was teenager, I wouldn’t want my daughter associating with kids who encouraged her to break rules or create bad habits. But being different isn’t bad. Kate doesn’t run her family like I do, but that doesn’t make her wrong.

And yet, there’s an immature side of me that’s whining to my own mother, “I don’t wanna play with her.”

What do you do when your child starts choosing your friends for you? How would you react if you didn’t get along with your little one’s bestie? Suck it up and smile through it or distract your little one into a new relationship with a more-desirable playmate?