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To help a friend
Posted 9:10 AM on Tue-4-Sep-2012
How do you go about helping a friend whom you don't know a) if they actually want or need your help and b)how they will take you offering said help?

I'm in a pickle. I have a friend who is clearly struggling with the behaviour of her four year old. It is true, all kids have melt downs from time to time, but this little girl goes out of her way to make her mother's life difficult. She doesn't listen, and she doesn't comply. She lacks courtesy and has trouble with authority. She wants to do it her way and only her way and she has no qualms about making her mother feel about 1cm tall in front of a crowd of people.

To start, I thought the usual 'it's just a phase'. Pocket has been known to throw major wobblies much like this other four year old, and being that they're the same age, I guess I compare their behaviour a little. Now, as the months have rolled by, I am quite sure that my friend is in over her head.

I think when naughtiness goes on for months on end, any parent would be forced to the point of giving up. Without my friend having said in so many words, I pretty sure she is at breaking point. She needs to be consistent with the girl, but she has nothing left to give. She has two other children to parent also, and sometimes I see their behaviour lagging due to their Mum's time being spent sorting out four year old tanties.

So what can I do? I don't want to offend her, I don't want her thinking I think she's a cruddy parent, she is the complete opposite of that. As a friend how do I tell her that she clearly needs to set some boundaries, get tough with the girl before it gets even worse? How do I start that conversation? Or do I just mind my own business and watch as the train veers further off the tracks?

Maybe my friend will read this blog. (I can't remember who spies on my blog anymore apart from my Ma - "hi Ma".) I hope that if this was the case, she'd understand I have been waiting for the right time, the right words to show my support, but to date, I just can't seem to figure out what those right words will be.

Go JO!
Posted by GoMummyJo

Comments (7)

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kymie83 - 6:12 PM on Thu-6-Sep-2012  
I had a similar thing recently, and i pretty much did what ekubo's suggestion, she came over for a coffee and her son was being a monkey she was apologizing so I was saying about my son how he has been a horror and what we have been going through and how we have managed it. I wanted to make sure she knew that we all have moments where we want to scream, and just because she doesn't see my son miss behave it doesn't mean he doesn't..( i wish lol)
It was a casual chat, and a giggle comparing nightmares, she knows if she wants a break she can drop him off and the most important part of it, is that she has a friend that she can talk to and that she isn't aloan and that sometimes just getting it off your chest helps things loads.

Good luck, im sure she will understand her friend cares for her, there is a big difference in telling someone how to parent and making them feel bad, to just being a friend who is supportive and has advice if she wants it.
oommii - 7:58 PM on Wed-5-Sep-2012  
I like ekubo's suggestion too but I would suggest that you invite her around to your house for a coffee/play-date for the kids so that you don't get interrupted by other mums and she may be more inclined to ask for help without getting to embarrassed if she does break down.

Something else that you could do would be to offer to have the 4 year-old over at your house for a play-date if they get on well with your children, to give your friend a couple of hours break from the 4 year old and spend a bit of time with the other children.

If you happen to be around when the 4 year old has a tantrum and you see your friend is near breaking point, ask if there is anything you can do to help - chances are she will say no at the time but may come back to you at a later stage
drdixon - 1:57 PM on Wed-5-Sep-2012  
I would stay out of it. It's absolutely her business, and only her business, and her responsibility to seek solutions if she wants them. Your friendship could be destroyed if you take a step too far.
LIVINGLIFE - 7:09 PM on Tue-4-Sep-2012  
Surely your friend knows that she is letting her child get away with murder??? I think ekubo has a good strategy for you and hopefully it kinda gets the mother thinking about maybe she needs to start sorting out her parenting towards the child because it sounds like the daugther knows she can pretty much do what she wants.
mumof3girls - 2:26 PM on Tue-4-Sep-2012  
ah 4 year olds. i think they are why school was invented!
ekubo - 1:06 PM on Tue-4-Sep-2012  
don't you have one around that age too Jo? Perhaps you could start by sympthising about just how hard four year olds can be, make up a few issues you've had recently and rave about how certain techniques worked a treat...

Being a parent is so much a part of our identity that it's really difficult to hear or admit that you're struggling without if feeling like a personal failing. I hope you can find a way to help her without crushing her toes too badly, you must be a good friend to have around in person.
thecoffeelady - 11:58 AM on Tue-4-Sep-2012  
Well I think possibly she will get a bit offended but also very likely she will be thankful for the lifeline you've thrown her. Similar thing was me really struggling with a 9 month old baby who still woke at least 10 times a night and one friend said, you HAVE to let her cry... etc etc, to cut a long story short, I cried and felt upset that I couldn't be a good mum (hormones) and decided I would do what my friend said and it worked. Kids do need boundarys and maybe she just feels like she doesn't know where to start. Good luck.

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