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I try to love my friend's child but it's just so hard! He's incredibly rude and I hate spending time with him

Tagged as: Family, Friends, Troubled relationships<< Previous question   Next question >>
Question - (27 March 2016) 6 Answers - (Newest, 28 March 2016)
A female United Kingdom age 41-50, *ubyBirtle writes:

I'm not sure how to express myself on this one or even what my exact question is or even if I HAVE a question.... all I know is that I feel really bad about this.

My friend and I have known each other for over 10 years now. Her son has just turned 8. He was a lovely baby and a gorgeous toddler but the older he gets I find him more and more objectionable. I love my friend and I've tried to love her child but I'm finding it so difficult.

My friend is a single parent so spending time with her also means spending time with him. I sound so incredibly selfish! I feel there must be something wrong with me - this is a child for Christ's sake! I just find him incredibly rude and I hate spending with him. I feel hurt by his behaviour (both physically and mentally)

It started when he was about 4 or 5 when he started to want to play a lot of very physical games which involved shoving or kicking or punching.

I've never mentioned any of this to my friend because it would break her heart. And she would be the first to point out to me that I'm not a parent so I would know...

And she's right. I'm not a parent. But I have other friends with children and nieces and nephews and I don't struggle with them.

He never says hello, goodbye or please or thank you unless prompted by his mother.

If they visit and I offer him food or drink, he doesn't respond with a "No thank you", he responds with gagging noises or an "Eeeewwww".

I'm not a particularly huggy person but if I ever try to touch this little one (such as offer my hand for shaking) my hand is slapped away again (often with a hissing sound or an "Eeeewww!" again

He even sent me a text message once from his mothers phone telling me I was really mean (which was promptly followed by a very apologetic phone call from Mum)

He has not been diagnosed with anything and is apparently achieving well at school.

I hate feeling like this.

View related questions: my ex, text

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A female reader, chigirl Norway + , writes (28 March 2016):

chigirl agony auntBtw, I once went to visit a friends house, and that was the first time I met their kids. The place was a mess and the kids spilled water and food on the table, they were just sitting around waiting for the parents to clean it. So I asked them to clean it up. And they did! I didn't hear any parents complain about that at all. And I have been invited back since....

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A female reader, chigirl Norway + , writes (28 March 2016):

chigirl agony auntYou're allowed to not like her kid. You're her friend, and that doesn't mean you have to love her kid. If you were in a relationship with her, or a step-mother to this kid, it would be a different matter. But as a friend, you're not required to feel anything for him, other than tolerate his presence.

I would give you this hint though, even if it's been 8 years without you doing it: you are allowed to set boundaries for this kid when he is around you! You are allowed to tell him "No", you are allowed to tell him he can't punch you, or hit you, and you are allowed to put your foot down with him when it comes to something concerning you. Like, if he runs by without saying hello. You can correct him and tell him it is rude, and that you expect him to say hello. You are also allowed to tell him how to behave when at your house, and you are allowed to tell him how to treat you and expect him to follow your instructions with regards to this.

It might come off as difficult at first, but once that barrier is broken, you will find that it's EASY to control a situation with another persons kid. I find that most parents actually appreciate that I don't allow their kids to do whatever they please around me. Then again, I worked part time at a kinder garden, a bowling alley, and an elementary school, so I had to break that barrier of taking charge over other peoples kids a long time ago.

The clue is to not direct instructions or demands to the parent, as in "I don't want your child to hit me". You MUST direct it to the child itself, as in "You are not allowed to hit me, hitting is not nice".

Kids need boundaries. So don't be afraid to set some boundaries. If he says something rude, you are allowed to correct him EVEN IF HIS MOM IS THERE!

Parents need someone to co-parent with them, it's too much of a job for just one person, and they have to pick their battles too, or else there would be nothing but arguments. So if you take the battles that concern you, you are essentially helping your friend out.

Just a few no-no's: You are not allowed to hurt the child, scold him, swear at him etc etc etc. Be nice and adult about it, as a teacher would be towards their pupil.

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A female reader, malvern United Kingdom +, writes (27 March 2016):

malvern agony auntI sympathise with you entirely!

I know exactly how you feel. My partners youngest son was pretty much the same and unfortunately there's not a lot you can do about it.

I kept dropping hints to my partner that he (the father) shouldn't allow him to do this, say that, behave like that etc etc.. but there's only so much you can say before the parent starts to feel insulted.

It all depends on how much time you spend with your friend. If the child comes to your house he should follow your rules. If you give him a drink and he just grabs it you should look him straight in the eye and say 'Thank you' and wait for him to repeat it back to you.

My partners son was appalling at other peoples houses, he would go and open their fridge to see what there was to eat!! The lady of that house said 'Now we don't go opening other peoples fridges do we?'. I think all you can do is drop the occasional remark to your friend concerning his behaviour but be careful, don't overdo it.

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A male reader, Danielepew Mexico +, writes (27 March 2016):

Danielepew agony auntIn my books, this child is very impolite and has been spoiled by none other than the mother. Well-reared kids don't behave this way.

Also, something is going on at that house. Kids aren't usually that aggressive.

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A female reader, Ivyblue Australia + , writes (27 March 2016):

Ivyblue agony auntYour friend is well within her rights to parent in which ever way she feels right, just as you have the right to not be bullied by this little 'Damien' and it does sound like an uncomfortable situation you find yourself in. No, there is nothing wrong with you-some kids are just hard to warm too. Please let me point out that you don't have to be a parent to recognise unacceptable behaviour nor do you have to tolerate it. The more you are fearful of upsetting your friend the worse it is going to get for you and no doubt put a strain on the friendship. If he is going to continue to be rude to you and mum is going to sit by and let it happen then you are going to have to step up and pull him up the instance it happens. For example:

If you ask him a direct question and his response is some silly noise- you respond with " No (insert name) the answer I need to hear is either Yes please or No Thank you". If continues ask again in a firm tone-Yes ,please or no thank you...? If you get nothing then you give nothing. if you do get the polite response you are after you could then invite him to come help you get the food or drink that you have on offer so then it can give you the opportunity to give him praise for doing a good job. If he hisses at you tell him snakes hiss, boys use their words.

If he wants to respond with slapping etc again you respond with telling him to "STOP (insert name) I don't like that, its not polite to hit people".

You need to send a message that you are not going to take his shit. At the end of the day if mum doesn't like, what can you do but re think the friendship. Chances are you are not the only friend of hers thinking like this.

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A female reader, Honeypie United States + , writes (27 March 2016):

Honeypie agony auntI'd spend time with your friend and ignore the kid. I think he knows you don't like him (kids are smart to pick that up real quick) and he KNOWS you overcompensate by trying to be nice to him.

I'm amazed that his mother allow his behavior. And MAYBE she also overcompensate (in a different way than you) because she IS a single mom.

And that is why I say ignore him. When you met up say hi to her and hi to him, but otherwise let HER interact with her son. Don't try and be nice as you know all you will get is ewww.

He is 8, so WAY to old for this behavior to be frank.

And I'd chance the venue for hanging out with them to outside of your home. He might actually behave better on a neutral public place. I'd simply dial back the attention you give him.

Honestly, I don't blame you for not liking him. I have kids myself, but have met MANY kids I didn't like. (still met some occasionally). So being a parents doesn't make a difference.

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