So, yesterday I was catching up on BBC Radio 4,s Womans Hour podcast when the topic of disliking your child’s friends was discussed. Jenny Eclair and Lucy Cavendish (both mothers) were invited to the studio to give their opinions. Their views on this subject made me laugh hard and nod in agreement.
Their views got me thinking about how I have handled my children’s friends that I don’t like for different reasons.
As much as I want my daughters to have good social life and loyal friends, I have had to be straightforward with them about who they should not be friends with. My advice is solely based on what my daughters have told me and not me being a snob about where the child involved lives. Or even what the parents do for a living. It is mainly based on how they make my daughters feel about themselves.
Since my older daughter started school three years ago, my parenting skills changed to protect her. I became brutally forthright about what I think of some of her friends. You see, my seven-year old daughter did not go to nursery so she was naïve to the world of what I call Girls Playground Politics (GPP)
GPP is where a group of popular girls knowingly or unknowingly manipulate and make the less popular girls feel rubbish. This cruelty may come in the form of childish banter. For example I am not inviting you to my party or you are not my friend anymore, etc, etc. You say this is what children do, but I say it is a form of cruelty.
I am not sure if being forthright is the best way to handle those of my daughters’ friends that I do not like. However, for now, it works for my family. Ask me in a few years time, maybe my forthrightness may have backfired. Currently, my daughters are able to detect the child who likes them and the one who doesn’t.
Some parenting experts recommend dropping hints by asking your children questions about how that friend makes them feel. I don’t really buy into that. Plus I lack the patience for hints. I just tell my daughters how true friends should make them feel and ask questions later.
Do I often come across children I don’t like? No.
The children, I have in the past told my daughters to avoid are mostly girls. Girls that repeat on the playground gossips they have heard from their own parents. Those are the girls I don’t like.
Ohh and girls who have audacity to tell my daughters that their practical Dr Martens school shoes are not pretty.
To be be completely honest with you, the children I have problems with are the same children who other parents do not like. The subtle gossips by mums at the school gates confirm and reassure me that I am not wrong about that girl!
In the past, as much as some GPPs have hurt my daughters, I am very glad that my children have experienced that horrible feeling. The feeling that rises in you when someone you call a friend hurts you. This feeling is helping them recognise from an early age who is horrible to them and who is not. This may help them, in the future, recognise a horrible partner.
I feel awful when I tell my daughters not to play with that girl but wouldn’t you? Wouldn’t you tell your own daughters to either stand up to that girl or stay away from her. The girl who makes them feel rubbish.