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How do you tell your best friend....

Posted by silversword (My Page) on
Thu, Oct 16, 08 at 10:10

that their kids are spoiled brats? My DH asked me that last night. We just spent the weekend with his best friend whom he's known since college, his friend's wife, and their three kids. These kids are destructive, don't listen, whine about everything, eat nothing but junk food (they think a "snack" is M&Ms- and get it, before dinner!) and are generally very unhappy. I genuinely feel sorry for the oldest as he gets the brunt of the mom's yelling. It's a horrible cycle. They run wild, she screams. They stop for five minutes... and here we go again. (She also yells at other people's kids on the playground). I personally can't really tolerate the wife, but I do so for my DH. She is shallow, ignorant, and generally complains about everything. I think the issue is with her parenting, not the kids.

The worst part is after spending time with them my DD gets contaminated with their whiny, demanding behavior and it takes a few days, if not a week, to get her back on track. All the kids have this mopey look that they take on when they don't get their way, and it makes me crazy to see it on her face.

I told him that you don't tell someone that. But maybe I'm wrong... and there's a way to do it so that the dad won't get offended.


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: How do you tell your best friend....

Since you only 'tolerate' the wife and think her kids are spoiled brats, simply tell her that you think her kids are spoiled brats and that will solve the 'having to tolerate her' situation. You'll never have to see her again! ;-)

Your husband can still hang with his buddy.


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RE: How do you tell your best friend....

Maybe I'm a chicken--but maybe not.

Thing is, it's highly unlikely that someone like that is ever going to change. Either she THINKS she's a good (decent, stellar) parent, and doesn't need improvement; OR she simply doesn't have the tools to be better at parenting. Either way, trying to tell her differently is just going to be an exercise in batting your head against the wall.

What would I do in your place? I'd avoid them most of the time. I'd never invite them to stay at my house, nor would I stay at theirs. I'd only see them in brief spurts, and always have a ready excuse for having to leave if things got out of hand. And I wouldn't do that so much for myself, but to keep my own child from being unduly influenced by very poor examples. Your child comes first--you can't allow her to be tossed in with toxic people, if it's going to adversely affect her either in the short or long term. Good luck.


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RE: How do you tell your best friend....

If I was in your situation, I would talk to my husband.

It's his friend, and surely he can say something about it. Surely the husband of the belligerent wife must see something amiss. To have that tension in your face, the yelling, the gloomy children, must be having an effect on him.

He may want to get it all off his chest and talk to someone about it.

People can change, if they WANT to, people can learn new ways to parent and become happier people. Maybe you are the catalyst for that change to come about.

It is a good lesson for your child to see what goes on, and you can talk about it with her.

But then maybe you don't have time to try to fix things !

It's a shame, really, it's a form of neglect, which is child abuse.

But then that brings to mind...shouldn't we all show concern for children that we think are getting a raw deal ? Isn't that what a community is all about? What sort of adults will these children become ? Mmmmm....lots to think about really !!

P


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RE: How do you tell your best friend....

I would not expect anything good to come from you or your DH informing these people that their kids are brats. What do you think they'll say? "Oh, wow, thanks for telling me. I had no idea! How do you suggest I fix that?" LOL. No way. They're gonna defend themselves and/or attack you.

I admit to taking the passive aggressive approach when I'm in that situation. If I see my own children committing those negative behaviors, I make my best example of correcting them. If the other parents takes a hint from that, then they are looking for a new method that works and try it themselves. Or it opens up a conversation. If they don't pay any attention to it, they clearly don't care and nothing I say or do will matter.

If the kids are directly rude to me, I treat them like my own and correct them the same.

We do have people in our lives with whom I limit contact for that same reason, the behavior is contagious. ;o) But good behavior can be contagious, too. So maybe keeping up my standards with my own kids will let the other parent know it's OK to have higher expectations of kids.


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RE: How do you tell your best friend....

Hi again,
I'm sorry if I wasn't clear. The question came from my DH:

"How do you tell your best friend...that their kids are spoiled brats? My DH asked me that last night."

"I told him that you don't tell someone that. But maybe I'm wrong... and there's a way to do it so that the dad won't get offended."

Sweeby, thank you for replying, but I don't think it's my place to just tell the wife of my husband's best friend that their kids are brats and terminate the relationship. I think that would be rude and innappropriate. But this isn't really my issue. It's my DH's issue. I tolerate her because he is such good friends with the husband, and I think male friendships are hard enough to come by that I would never jeopardize that with my own agenda.

Azzalea, I agree with what you said. I do limit the amount of time I spend with them. They live two hours away, and the wife will not let her husband come down for a day without her. I don't think she will change either. She thinks it's her husband's fault (she's always complaining about him too, even though she is a SAHM and pretty much gets to do what she wants and he is really a kind man). The oldest boy (age 9) is very intelligent and I usually spend most of my energy responding to him because out of the rest he's a pretty cool kid.

Poppi, "If I was in your situation, I would talk to my husband."

Thank you, but my husband knows, and he's the one asking what to do. :)

I do try to show her by example how I parent my daughter, and my daughter and I talk about it after they go. I remind her of the cycle that happens with them, the kids pout and don't listen, the mom yells, the kids pout, etc. I tell her I don't want to have that kind of relationship with her. She seems to get it. And it does take a village, I completely agree. My DH and I both think the oldest boy will end up ok, he's a pretty smart, funny kid. The middle son, he's probably going to grow up to be an ax murderer. Or a thief. He's really a sneaky kid. I hate to say that about a kid, but there's something wrong with him. The baby, I don't know, she's only 2 1/2 but she's pretty much taking after the middle kid already. But it's not the kids fault, it's the lack of consistancy, the incredible amounts of junk food and the constant screaming, so that they are indifferent to actual shouts of danger/immediacy. It's all a crisis with the mom.

Stephanie, You said what I said. Basically, there's nothing you can say to a person about their kids being brats. My DH seems to think there's something he can say, or something he can do. Like you, I don't think so. Since we only see them every once in a while due to the distance, I can suck it up and keep bringing my DD back to reality after we leave them, same as I would if they were family ;)


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RE: How do you tell your best friend....

Where is the dad when all of the drama is happening? The mom may have some poor parenting skills, but where is dad when the kids are getting m&ms right before dinner or standing around pouting? The mom sounds stressed to me and from what you write, it doesn't sound like she has a partner that is helping her. The kids may be brats, but that is usually a symptom of something else. It's easy to look like the good guy when you don't have the responsibility or have to do the dirty work. I don't think your dh should tell his friend the kids are brats. If your dh really wants to help, maybe he could suggest to the husband that he help his wife.


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RE: How do you tell your best friend....

Hi Adellabedella,
I don't know where I gave you the impression that "from what you write, it doesn't sound like she has a partner that is helping her". I agree that it takes two parents to develop the behavior of children. Usually when we are together it's because the guys have a project to do (tiling a bathroom, building a wall, fixing a car) and it's just the wife and I and the kids.

The mom is stressed, I agree. She married and had kids very young, and has never really "grown up", therefore they have an "old-fashioned" relationship: he goes to work and supports the family financially, she's responsible for supporting the home life.

And the dad also gives them "snacks" right before dinner. The cycle usually goes like this "I want a snaaaaccckkkkk". Then they get a rice crispy treat or something, then they whine about dinner, eat two bites and say they're full. Then 20 minutes later, "I'm hunnggggrrryy" and they get dessert.

Really, I don't see the dad parent that much because I'm just not around him. When they're down to see us I try to get the mom and our four combined children out of the house so some work can be done without kids going crazy around their feet. When we're up at their house my DH and her DH are usually in the garage or a work zone. But when he is around he is patient, and doesn't yell, and is very good with the children. He is a very devoted father from what I can see.


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RE: It's the father's fault

Hi Adellabedella,
I don't know where I gave you the impression that "from what you write, it doesn't sound like she has a partner that is helping her", could you explain? I agree that it takes two parents to develop the behavior of children. Usually when we are together it's because the guys have a project to do (tiling a bathroom, building a wall, fixing a car) and it's just the wife and I and the kids.

The mom is stressed, I agree. She married and had kids very young, and has never really "grown up", therefore they have an "old-fashioned" relationship: he goes to work and supports the family financially, she's responsible for supporting the home life.

And the dad also gives them "snacks" right before dinner. The cycle usually goes like this "I want a snaaaaccckkkkk". Then they get a rice crispy treat or something, then they whine about dinner, eat two bites and say they're full. Then 20 minutes later, "I'm hunnggggrrryy" and they get dessert. There is no real consistancy, they don't have to eat balanced meals, and it's like that with everything.

Honestly, though? She has three kids. She wanted them, she asked for them, even though the dad wasn't ready to have them, and he finally agreed. He didn't want to have more than one. They now have THREE. And she is talking about another one. If you can't handle one, why have three?

Really, I don't see the dad parent that much because I'm just not around him. When they're down to see us I try to get the mom and our four combined children out of the house so some work can be done without kids going crazy around their feet. When we're up at their house my DH and her DH are usually in the garage or a work zone. But when he is around he is patient, and doesn't yell, and is very good with the children. He is a very devoted father from what I can see.


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RE: How do you tell your best friend....

"These kids are destructive, don't listen, whine about everything, eat nothing but junk food (they think a "snack" is M&Ms- and get it, before dinner!)"

"They run wild, she screams. They stop for five minutes... and here we go again."

The above comments makes me think the husband isn't helping. The kids wouldn't continuously act like that if there was a threat of a consequence. The kids don't respond to mom's method of discipline (which appears to be screaming) because there is no consequence. They know she isn't going to do anything. It also makes me think the dad doesn't back mom up or help out by either making the kids act properly or helping mom to make the kids act properly. I'm assuming the actions described are the normal pattern of behavior for that household. Patterns like that develop over time. You most likely aren't witnessing a one time situation.

It doesn't matter if having the kids was moms idea. Dad helped get them here and they are now a part of his responsibility. The dad may have a legitimate reason for not helping with the kids on the days your families get together. I suspect he isn't helping with the kids on the days you aren't there either.

It's easier to be patient and deal with bad behavior if you aren't around it constantly. It's also easier to look like the good guy when you aren't worn to a frazzle. The mom may be a SAHM and her day job may be watching her kids, but its a night job too. To me, it appears that dad may not be helping. The dad may be a genuinely good guy, but it appears he may need to learn parenting skills just as much as the mom does. IMO, part of being a good parent or spouse is helping your other half to shine too.


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RE: How do you tell your best friend....

I have to say that being a SAHM can be more frustrating than juggling a full-time job and kids.

I worked full-time until this school year. Now I stay home most of the time and just work a part-time job while our youngest is in kindergarten. At 11:00am me and the youngest come home from his school (where I work). The next few hours are usually running errands, cleaning the house, doing school work with our youngest, and playing with him. Then the other 3 get home and I have to help with their homework, cook dinner, clean up dinner, and run them to activities. Then we play games or read together, sometimes watch a movie or a bit of t.v. together, and then we start the bedtime routine. Honestly I feel like my day now is more hectic then when I worked full-time! When I worked full-time I at least got some adult interaction! Now most of my adult interaction is on this forum until my dh gets home! LOL!

I could see how a SAHM with 3 young kids could be stressed and yell a lot!


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RE: How do you tell your best friend....

With that sort of diet, the children must be getting awfully chubby, is that the case ?

I can't understand parents like this...do they not read about nutrition, do they not observe other parents that manage to be smiling and enjoying their children ?

Is it that, they just find the whole thing too difficult and have given up. Probably this is the case.

Ask the mother if she is coping, she may need help and doesn't know how to get it.


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RE: How do you tell your best friend....

I told him that you don't tell someone that. But maybe I'm wrong... and there's a way to do it so that the dad won't get offended.

There are a few people who won't be offended if you point out their children's misbehavior, but those people are very, very rare. I think you're right, there's no way your husband can tell his friend without offending him and damaging the friendship.

She is shallow, ignorant, and generally complains about everything

Your husband's friend probably loves her and those traits don't bother him, so it stands to reason that his children's behavior wouldn't bother him, either. Or maybe his children's behavior does bother him, but if his wife is whiny, then the children are probably going to be whiny as well. Same with shallow and ignorant.

The worst part is after spending time with them my DD gets contaminated with their whiny, demanding behavior and it takes a few days, if not a week, to get her back on track. All the kids have this mopey look that they take on when they don't get their way, and it makes me crazy to see it on her face.

As a young mother, I sometimes felt the same way. It was very frustrating to me to take my kids somewhere and have them pick up bad habits or behaviors and drag them home. But this situation also gives you the opportunity to teach your daughter differently - it's a good opening for discussion. As your daughter gets older, she will see how unattractive that behavior really is when those particular kids visit.

In the long run I've had problems when my kids spent huge amounts of time with kids who had unacceptable behavior. But a little exposure to bratty kids didn't hurt them.

One of the above posters has a point about the dad helping. I know families where the mom lets the kids run wild, but the dad enforces good discipline. Kids are very smart and very adaptable, and in those cases the kids learn to run wild while only mom is around but will behave when dad is there. If these kids are elementary school age and they misbehave while dad is on the premises, even if he's busy, then I suspect that the dad doesn't discipline the children much better than the mom.

If that's the case, then the only way I can see for your husband to help his friend is this: when the friend starts complaining about how the kids run wild, your husband could say something about how he (your husband) handles that. For example, if male friend says something about how the kids run wild, your husband could say, "Yeah, kids will do that. I try to limit our daughter's sugar, cut out the candy, etc., and that seems to help her stay a little calmer."

But I think your husband would be better off just to leave it alone. If the situation really bothered his friend, his friend would probably do something about it. If the situation doesn't bother his friend, then his friend will be offended.

I remember when I was a child my parents had some friends with a really, really bratty daughter. Her name was "Angel" but my brother and I called her "Devil" (behind her back, of course, never to her face). We hated visiting their house, and we could never understand how our parents could tolerate her when they were so strict on us! Now that I'm older, I understand.


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RE: How do you tell your best friend....

Adella,
"The kids don't respond to mom's method of discipline (which appears to be screaming) because there is no consequence."
You're exactly right. And by saying that she wanted the kids while dad was less than enthusiastic does not let dad off the hook for care, it's just saying when a person wants something so bad, and keeps having children although she is overwhelmed and completely stressed does not make sense to me. In essence, she did this to herself. It makes it hard for me to have sympathy. The dad has an old-fashioned approach to the whole thing, which is, I go to work, you take care of the kids. When I was a SAHM my daughter was fed and bathed by the time my husband got home from work. He did not come home to a dirty house, a frazzled wife and hungry, whiny children. IMO, this is disrespectful behavior on the part of the mother.

Mom2emall,
I have to say that being a SAHM can be more frustrating than juggling a full-time job and kids.
While I agree a SAHMs job can be frustrating, and in your case perhaps it was more frustrating, I dont think that generalization works. I go to work at 6:00 every morning, get off at 2:00, pick up my daughter, go home, do homework, get a snack, get her dressed for her sport, drive her to her sport, bring her home, make dinner, do an activity with her, eat dinner, clean up, bathe her, get her into PJs, read a story, attempt to do laundry and clean, spend an hour or so with my DH and go to sleep. When I was a SAHM, I could go to the park, call another SAHM on the phone, have playdates, etcK to get adult interaction.

Popi,
Amazingly, the three kids are slender. But the mom is pretty overweight. The mom once saw some pictures I took on the way to her house. She said, where did you take these? And I said, on the side of the road. It was beautiful, and wed been in the car for a while, so I stopped and we took some pics and looked around. And she said, I wish I could do something like that, I wish I was like that. I think a lot of her issue is not being relaxed enough to have a good time. She is not coping. She thinks she has a really hard life. She complains about everything. I personally dont see where the issue is, except that shes a spoiled brat too.

Daisy,
Youre right, its a great teaching experience. I talk with my DD about how their relationship is and how I dont want to do that with her, the cycle of whine/yell. Its good, but its hard to get through it when its happening.

There are a few people who won't be offended if you point out their children's misbehavior, but those people are very, very rare. I think you're right, there's no way your husband can tell his friend without offending him and damaging the friendship. Thank you Daisy. This is exactly why I wrote the post. I dont think there is a way to say it, but I thought I might be wrong

My point with this, ladies, was not to dissect their parenting, blame the mother, or condone any behavior by the father. I know that they have marriage issues too, and I dont think I can even go there! I dont want to sever the relationship, I am willing to endure hanging out with a woman I dont particularly like because I know my DH and his friend are very tight and I respect their friendship. I dont have to be her BFF, I just have to be civil for a weekend every three months or so. Im sure you all have family or acquaintances that you must endure for defined periods of time throughout the year.

I just wanted to know, (and maybe I shouldnt have included any other information, but I was so frustrated!) do you think there is any way to tell him his kids are brats? I dont think so. My DH wanted to know, because theyre driving him crazy too, and he loves his friend.


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