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Love Your Friends, Don't Love Their Kids. What To Do?

How do you handle dealing with friends who have different parenting styles?

Each week, the members of our moms council offer their experience and advice on a single topic relevant to modern parents. We hope that this gives readers a good starting point for a conversation both online and off.

That conversation starts today with a question that we hope you don’t face too frequently:

"You love your friends (family), but don’t want to be around their kids"

Alicia Botticelli-Tarasuk:

This is a hard but real (more often than not) reality.

If you really enjoy your friends and being around them, then their children should not be an issue. You just deal with it because you love your friends.

As an adult, dealing with things like this is a reality and ignoring your friends or not wanting to be with them because of their children is middle school behavior and not right. If the children truly bother you, limit the time when children go too, and plan adult nights out.

Remember that your friends love their children like you love yours and would hate people feeling that way about your children. I know that is so much easier said than done, but friends are important.

Meghan Cogswell:

I think we all have friends or family that fit into this category for one reason or another. There are a few whose kids are just a little much for either of my kids. Not bad kids, it’s just that they don't always get along well, and it can make for a stressful get together.

In those cases, we tend to just deal with it and make the most of it. We will just talk to our kids before with the hopes that they will try to avoid the conflict, but since it is all personality-based, and we enjoy the time with our friends/family, we don't get overly concerned about it. 

There are, however, the friends/family whose kids may not be the best influence on our kids for one reason or another. It could be that the parents just have different views than we do on what is okay and what is not or what is appropriate or what is not or that their kids are into things that my kids may not have been exposed to yet.  

It is those relationships where we definitely limit the interactions. And those are the hardest, because generally, they like to play together (probably because my kids think they are super cool and we are not!). However, after a get together, my kids will start hounding us for a certain toy or clothes that I don't think are age appropriate or start using new words that might not be so polite. It is hard enough to raise our kids with all the outside factors so when we can limit the exposure we try to.

One way we limit it is to get a babysitter and leave the kids at home. This is definitely tricky, as we don't want to offend someone else’s parenting styles, but also feel like we have to protect our children at the same time.

Erin Calvo-Bacci:

This is a difficult topic because it’s reality. Likes certainly attract likes, but this doesn’t always translate to our best friends or favorite family members and their kids.

People parent differently, and, for me, to not “like” certain children is because the parent’s are not parenting their children to be “likeable”—and maybe it’s because the parent doesn’t like their job.

I’ve been a full time working mom, a stay home mom and back to being a working mom with multiple jobs so I do not believe those who stay home versus working mom’s equals better kids or vice versa. I think parents are overwhelmed and often oblivious or just don’t want to parent because it’s work.

Within my family—on both sides—bad behavior has been dismissed simply to the expression “boys will be boys.” Of my six nephews, there is only one who I would gladly take anywhere because he is such a pleasure to be around. Both parents work; he goes to a small private daycare a few days a week, and his activeness is natural for his toddler age.

The difference that I’ve observed within my entire family is the parents are happy about parenting. Think about that comment: “they’re happy about parenting.” What does that mean?

It means they make sacrifices like all parents; they feed the child first; they stick to a routine so the child and parents can have downtime; they spend time with the child participating in child-friendly activities not just placing them in front of a television.

Here’s the more amazing part: everyday may not be great, but the parents actually smile because they’re happy doing a job which is often thankless. I’ve been told my children are exceptionally well behaved children, but they don’t go to bed at night and say “thanks for parenting me today mom.” Or, “I know I spent most of the day pushing your buttons, thanks for putting up with me.” I am a disciplinarian and the kids that I love being around come from homes where their parents discipline similarly.

It makes a big difference, because, as my girls are getting older, I’ve noticed my friends and family who are more relaxed have the children that tend to chose poor, unsafe decisions, which at times have injured themselves or, worse, my children.

My responsibility is to my children, and I’ve pulled back from certain friends and family playdates and instead try to get together with just the adults—because they’re not wrong, they’re just parenting differently than me.

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