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Author Topic: What to do when friends only want to socialize with their children present  (Read 12979 times)
reener06
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« Reply #15 on: May 03, 2012, 3:29:39 pm »

Meant to add--they never talked about it. Parents hoped son forgot about it, son left questioning his memories. He finally asked them about it as an adult. Granted, this child is older (in the OP), but maybe they just don't know how to talk about whatever it is (not necessarily molestation).
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baleful_regards
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« Reply #16 on: May 03, 2012, 3:31:34 pm »

The problem? When we go to their house, there is no time for adult conversation and the entire night revolves around their children, especially their 8-year-old  son, who constantly demands attention and throws huge tantrums when he doesn't get his way.
Is this new behavior from their son or is this consistent with how he's always been?
Is it possible that junior is going through a very difficult streak or even experiencing medical problems?
Where this is going:
Is it possible that they've got something going on in their family or with their son that they do not want to talk about directly, but that for whatever reason in the parents' judgment means that they need to stay home with junior instead of hiring someone else to supervise?

This. I'm also thinking something is going on with the son wherein they don't want to get a sitter or they now can't find a sitter for him. I have a friend who was molested by a sitter when he was 3 or so. He doesn't remember it in detail, and it was a one-time thing. This was 35 years ago. Cops were called, the person was arrested, but the parents were (understandably reluctant) to leave him alone with a sitter again for a long time. Which is also what balefulregards was getting at too.

Yes, it exactly was what I was moving towards. I've seen this behaviour in adults who were assaulted as children too - yet if the parents were willing have sitters prior, then that doesn't necessarily make sense.
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coalminecanary
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« Reply #17 on: May 03, 2012, 3:31:51 pm »

The problem? When we go to their house, there is no time for adult conversation and the entire night revolves around their children, especially their 8-year-old  son, who constantly demands attention and throws huge tantrums when he doesn't get his way.

Is this new behavior from them (agreeing but backing out last minute) or has it been going on since you've known them?
Is this new behavior from their son or is this consistent with how he's always been?
Is it possible that junior is going through a very difficult streak or even experiencing medical problems?
Where this is going:
Is it possible that they've got something going on in their family or with their son that they do not want to talk about directly, but that for whatever reason in the parents' judgment means that they need to stay home with junior instead of hiring someone else to supervise?

I think it is possible that their son is having some type of issue. He has always been a very difficult child, but even more so in the last few months. I really do hope that he is not ill, especially because we've all lost a close mutual friend to cancer recently, and I am not sure any of us can handle much more grief right now. I really, really hope that it's just that they don't want to do those things right now and not that he is ill or experienced molestation.
« Last Edit: May 03, 2012, 3:33:49 pm by coalminecanary » Logged

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snowbound
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« Reply #18 on: May 03, 2012, 4:03:33 pm »

Most babysitters are going to say "Sorry, can't make it" if the they are asked to sit an 8-year-old who behaves like this (and if they are the usual teenaged sitter, not that articulate around grown-ups, they will not feel comfortable being upfront about the reason).  An out-of-control 3-year-old is one thing; an out-of-control 8-year-old is another thing entirely.

But your friends' probable babysitter difficulties don't excuse their continually initiating plans, then changing them at the last moment.  When the plan changes from grown-ups-in-restaurant to pizza-at-house-with-child, you should pleasantly but firmly decline:  "O no, no, no, thanks anyway, we can postpone it til a more suitable time.  We can easily cancel our babysitter, no problem.  Chez Fancypants's trout almondine is divine, but it will taste all the better if we look forward to it for a couple more weeks!"  If you are also getting together sometimes for events that involve both parents and kids, all the better.  Then, in planning things together, some can be clearly referred to as entire-family events and others as grown-ups night out events (which these friends may just not be able to participate it).
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larryc
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« Reply #19 on: May 03, 2012, 6:10:23 pm »

I have already offered to hire them a sitter and/or share our sitter, as well as given them contact numbers of several good sitters.

It seems like you have sent a very clear message, and they are sending a very clear message in return. They don't want to get together without their kids.

How about mixing up the setting a little next time. Invite them on a hike, or to a summer concert in a park? Have a few games on your smart phone that you can hand the boy if he gets antsy.
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coalminecanary
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« Reply #20 on: May 03, 2012, 6:48:00 pm »

Polly_mer, sounds lovely. Pick your drink of choice and we'll have it ready for you!

Larryc, a hike sounds like a good option. Their youngest loves nature, and canarybaby enjoys being toted around in her baby backpack. We've never had the opportunity to foster a baby before, and listening to her making happy noises as she experiences the world is great fun.
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coalminecanary
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« Reply #21 on: May 03, 2012, 10:03:39 pm »

I will chill that root beer mug now!
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msparticularity
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« Reply #22 on: May 03, 2012, 11:07:35 pm »

I also wonder whether you might be able to say to them--quite gently--"You know, I've noticed that [your 8-year-old] seems to be having a tough time right now. Is it hard for you to plan to go out?" Just opening the door for them to say that, yes, this is a problem at the moment, might help to clarify things. If there's a particularly tricky thing happening, it will give them permission to tell you as much as they're comfortable sharing, and also perhaps help you to understand why they keep instigating plans and then changing them. Just that understanding might go a long way toward preserving the friendship.
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« Reply #23 on: May 04, 2012, 2:03:06 pm »

I also wonder whether you might be able to say to them--quite gently--"You know, I've noticed that [your 8-year-old] seems to be having a tough time right now. Is it hard for you to plan to go out?" Just opening the door for them to say that, yes, this is a problem at the moment, might help to clarify things. If there's a particularly tricky thing happening, it will give them permission to tell you as much as they're comfortable sharing, and also perhaps help you to understand why they keep instigating plans and then changing them. Just that understanding might go a long way toward preserving the friendship.

+1
This is outstanding advice, I think.
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oldfullprof
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« Reply #24 on: May 04, 2012, 7:53:22 pm »

Many friends with children; none like this.
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« Reply #25 on: May 04, 2012, 8:21:27 pm »

It may well be issues with the 8-year-old.  It could also be that they've developed a flaky streak, out of exhaustion or whatever.  But unless there are exonerating issues, canceling repeatedly is really not on.  I hope you can find some way to convey this to them.  "I've noticed that you've been canceling after making plans a lot in the last few months.  We're sorry not to see you.  Of course it's hard on us when the plans don't work out at the last minute.  Are there problems we should be aware of?  Would it be easier on you if we didn't make any concrete plans for a while?" 

Because if they continue to do this, I think it would be appropriate not to make any plans with them that would be ruined if they backed out.  So if four families are going to meet at a restaurant, and these folks cancel, that's okay; but I wouldn't make plans with them alone any more.
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coalminecanary
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« Reply #26 on: May 04, 2012, 8:33:34 pm »

Update: She was actually able to meet me for lunch today. My end of the discussion was similar to hegemony's suggestion. It is related to the eight-year-old. There were several incidents recently at school, and they have entered family counseling. Without betraying confidences, they were advised to keep a close watch on him and limit his activities outside the home for a time. I am optimistic that he will get the help he needs, and am relieved that I had not accidentally offended them. I look forward to being supportive in any manner my friends may prefer. Thank you all for the excellent advice and a willingness to "listen."
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baleful_regards
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« Reply #27 on: May 04, 2012, 9:27:49 pm »

Update: She was actually able to meet me for lunch today. My end of the discussion was similar to hegemony's suggestion. It is related to the eight-year-old. There were several incidents recently at school, and they have entered family counseling. Without betraying confidences, they were advised to keep a close watch on him and limit his activities outside the home for a time. I am optimistic that he will get the help he needs, and am relieved that I had not accidentally offended them. I look forward to being supportive in any manner my friends may prefer. Thank you all for the excellent advice and a willingness to "listen."

I am so glad you were able to talk with your friend - that is a relief, all around.
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anisogamy
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« Reply #28 on: May 04, 2012, 9:45:44 pm »

Update: She was actually able to meet me for lunch today. My end of the discussion was similar to hegemony's suggestion. It is related to the eight-year-old. There were several incidents recently at school, and they have entered family counseling. Without betraying confidences, they were advised to keep a close watch on him and limit his activities outside the home for a time. I am optimistic that he will get the help he needs, and am relieved that I had not accidentally offended them. I look forward to being supportive in any manner my friends may prefer. Thank you all for the excellent advice and a willingness to "listen."

I'm glad that you were able to talk to your friend about this, and I'm glad that their family is getting help.

Tangential: I am so looking forward to moving to a place where I will be able to call in free family babysitting on occasion and where paid babysitting is relatively readily available for ~50% of the cost here.  I am looking forward to making new grown-up friends and doing grown-up things with them on occasion.
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westcoastgirl
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« Reply #29 on: May 04, 2012, 10:36:16 pm »

We have friends whose company we really enjoy. When we first met them, canaryspouse and I would meet them for dinner, drinks, and a night out. Over time, things have changed. Lately, we plan a night out, they agree, then at the last minute want us to just come over to their house. The problem? When we go to their house, there is no time for adult conversation and the entire night revolves around their children, especially their 8-year-old  son, who constantly demands attention and throws huge tantrums when he doesn't get his way. I enjoy being around children at times, but not all the time. I have tried discussing this with them, but things quickly revert to this pattern. Has anyone successfully dealt with this issue? I hate to lose a friendship, but my life doesn't revolve around children.

I would be quite annoyed. I think it is incredibly rude of your friends not to have the social sensibility to simply "trade off." In other words, when said kid acts up, one parent immediately removes the kid from the room and other guests move on with the conversation. And then you alternate, and alternate again.

I have three children. We are very careful to keep things compartmentalized. We invite people over, but after the kid is in bed. If he is up and I notice him even remotely bothering someone--that means even talking to them for more than 30 seconds, I immediately jump in. Sure, some folks aren't bothered, but I just assume everyone is. I'm under no deluded impressions that my kid's banal ramblings are endearing to anyone. And yeah, I love my kid. I'm very aware that the next guy doesn't.

We prefer to go out, but babysitting here is 12 bucks an hour. So we alternate (yet, again). Tonight, my husband is out. Tomorrow night, I'll be out. It works great for us.

We are hosting someone for a conference this weekend so he doesn't have to pay for a hotel. He's very polite. My son got up in his face with the ipad and Mario. After two "look at my Mario game!" I quickly dealt with the situation and took the kid out of the room. And this, even when the nice guest pretended it was "super ok." It never is.

We are under no false assumption that people like our kids or want to spend time with them. In fact, I don't like kids much, with the exception of my own and those of friend. I remember when I lived overseas in a kid-friendly culture, I used to cringe when people brought their kids over. I hated it. I think I'm pretty hypersensitive and make sure that people aren't subjected to it.
« Last Edit: May 04, 2012, 10:39:14 pm by westcoastgirl » Logged

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