Dear Ms. Vicki,
I need advice on dealing with one of my good friends. I really don't like spending time with her when she brings her kids along. They are the kids from hell!
She and her husband allow them to run out of control! They won't discipline their kids, and they don't want anyone else to say anything to them, either. For example, the kids will come to our apartment and rummage through our things without permission. When I tell them to leave certain things alone, my friend will give me an angry look. It's like she expects us to to let her kids just do whatever.
Our husbands met at the Officer Basic Course at Quantico. We've been friends for more than five years. my husband and I don't have children yet, and we're not rushing into having them.
What I find is that most Marine wives I meet rush in to having children to solidify their relationships instead of taking time to focus on themselves for a while. It's like they want nothing more out of life than to become a mother -- and that's just not me. If it happens if happens, and I will be happy then.
Is there a way for us to remain friends but for me to tell her that we think her children are out of control? Should we also let them know we think their children's behavior has a lot to do with their "hands off" approach to discipline?
-- The Kids from Hell
Dear Kids from Hell,
Your letter takes me back to a time when my three sons were small. While I had friends and acquaintances then who didn't have children, I have to say that I don't remember visiting them with my sons. If I did, it was very rare and only for a few minutes.
Why? Well, because I knew they didn't want three rambunctious boys taking over their home. It's also very tiring for a parent to have to continually say sit down, stop that, keep your hands off that, etc. You can only say that so many times.
Instead, I would invite my friends to meet me at the park or other places where my sons could be occupied. This way, my sons were happy because they got to have fun and my friends were happy because their houses were not demolished.
This doesn't have to be the end of your friendship, but you do owe it to your friend and to yourself to say "mine is not a kid-friendly apartment." And why would it be? You don't have children.
You don't have to invite your friend and her kids to your place. If you are holding a social event at your place, let your friend know that it's for adults only. If she and her husband want to attend, they'll need to get a babysitter. Adults need a night out without the kids from time to time.
If you want to meet your friend when you know that she'll have her children with her, invite her to a park or some other place where her children will have room to play and activities to keep them busy.
But, and please accept my honesty in saying this, I really don't think you're into kids right now and maybe you don't like her children at all. If this is true, then it's OK for you to stop inviting her to do anything with you when she is watching her children. Her children may be out of control, but they still deserve to be with people who can tolerate them.
Finally, you have to remember these are her children, not yours. I totally understand how you feel, but no parents want other adults disciplining their children. You and your husband may need to distance yourselves from this friendship for the time being.
Thank you for taking the time to write to me with such a great question! Please keep in touch.
-- Ms. Vicki