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Old 11-18-2010, 10:30 PM   #1
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Question Wanted: Your Parenting Opinions

I have a 20-year-old son who is attending college part-time while working maybe 30 hours a week and playing in a band.

I have a friend who has two children around my son's age. We met as single, dirt-poor parents when our children were infants, and we've remained friends for the past 20 years. Several years were spent with minimal communication, as she lived in various states for years at a stretch. We have lived near each other for the past decade, though.

My friend's children are both very strong academically, both on scholarships. Her son attends an ivy-league school. My son is smart, but it has taken some life lessons for him to come around to realizing that college is a good idea. I am college educated and well employed, but my friend is not college educated and earns a barely-livable wage (hence the scholarships).

The problem is, my friend seems to have a low opinion of my son. She's never said anything directly negative, but she doesn't seem to say much positive either. My son commented on it to me before, and I noticed it before he said anything to me about it. She doesn't say encouraging things about him academically, and she really doesn't want her daughter and my son to be around each other.

I really doubt my son has done anything directly to her to cause her to think of him negatively. My son is polite and approachable, and I don't believe she considers him ill-mannered. She just doesn't take him seriously and doesn't seem to believe he is capable of anything significant.

Also, she's become increasingly class conscious over the past five years or so. She enjoys knowing people who are "exceptional" (or at least look so on paper) and she enjoys talking about these near brushes with fame, hob-nobbing with doctors, what her son's friends parents do for a living, etc.

How would you handle this? Could you be friends with someone who seems to have a low opinion of your adult child, or am I being overly sensitive? I thought about mentioning my feelings and concerns, but I'm not sure there's really a point in doing that. It's not like I can tell her to change her opinion of my son. Is it best to just let this friendship fade away?

I'd love to hear your thoughts! Thank you.
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Old 11-18-2010, 11:09 PM   #2
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Hmmm.....maybe she knows her daughter likes your son and is sticking her nose into it.

Honestly, I'd ignore it. Sounds like your son is doing just fine and I'm willing to bet her children are either a little annoyed or are willing to humor her parading them like show ponies.

People make significant marks on the world from lots of different paths.

It actually reminds me a bit of my son and my nephew. My nephew is a naturally gifted athlete and, at age 8, is always one of the better players of whatever sport he is in. He is also competitive and willing to work hard for a win. He is sad when his team loses. My son (almost the same age) is a whole head shorter than his cousin and doesn't have a competitive bone in his body. We've put him in sports that are more individual vs. team sports, cause he likes to do his thing, he's happy to do it, and he doesn't care if he's first or last too much. I'm amused by family discussions of these boys' various athletic pursuits, because they are totally different in character and desire and yet they will both totally be fine upstanding young men. But there is a comparison there and it probably bothers me more than my son (who seems to be cheerfully oblivious and brims with self-confidence).

If it doesn't bother your son too much, I'd try to not let it bother you too much either. I'd say she's trying to compensate in her own mind for their financial situation.

Kids march to their own drummers. Too bad all adults won't give them all the credit they need and deserve for being individuals.
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Old 11-18-2010, 11:26 PM   #3
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Really depends how much it bothers you, because she seems like a woman who looks down on people , never a good quality. But i think ignore it to, but if it gets worse confront her before you do anything drastic. its a long friendship and would seem a waste to just stop talking to her.

and btw, if your son likes her daughter its their choice there both legal right?

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Old 11-18-2010, 11:34 PM   #4
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In any situation, I have to give the advantage to anyone who relates to Hyacinth! *laffin'. Love your sense of humor.

As precarious a position as it is to be the first to offer advice, I am compelled to do so because a friend pointed this out to me once a long time ago and I have observed it so many times. The wisdom he imparted is simply this:

There are people (parents) who live vicariously through their kids. You see it in parents who are over-involved in their kids' sports, theater, kiddie beauty pageants, whatever, and in their kids' achievements in college and careers. You can't help but wonder about their motives..whether they are unfulfilled in their own lives in some way..but one thing is certain..whatever the motive, it is *their motive. It must be giving them some reward. It must be feeding some need.

How you react is up to you entirely..and I understand why you are questioning it...if you put up with behavior you perceive as demeaning to your son..you have to question if you are feeding this need of your friend to not only hold up her children as so- great, but of your son as not- so- great. I guess you (not so simply) have to weigh the value of the friendship v. the pain and frustration of her behavior toward your son. It is certainly an option to address it with candor...easier said than done, but if you value the friendship, certainly an option.

Good luck. I hope you will let us know what you decide.

P.S. Many, if not most of the successful entrepreneurs in this nation did not follow the straight and narrow academic path..they were too smart for it!! They pieced together the education they needed, as they needed it, and did just fine!
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Old 11-19-2010, 07:26 AM   #5
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My son sounds very similar to yours except he's not quite adult yet at 17 and I took the academic path through life too. So I do sometimes find it hard to relate to my son who does not get fulfilment through academic achievement as I did. I have to accept that he has his own furrow to plough in life. My son too plays in a band and his former guitar tutor told me he is a talented musician so I know he's capable of success in a other areas of his life

So maybe, like me, your friend places high value on academic achievements and maybe can't see that there are other paths to be a success in life. Maybe if you told her that you are proud of your son no matter what he does she may get the message.

I'm certain when my son does find his 'niche' he will make a great success of it.

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Old 11-19-2010, 08:06 AM   #6
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My question to you is how does this friend make you feel? Does this negative (or lack of positive) affirmation have consequences on your or your son? If this friend is a negative source of enery and feelings, imho you should move on. Friendships ebb and flow and this one may have run its course.
Life is so short, if you are putting up with negativity and conflict for the sake of sentimentality- then you are not getting everything you deserve.
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Old 11-19-2010, 08:11 AM   #7
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The question should be can you stand being a friend to someone who is like that?

I personally couldn't, I don't like negative or judgemental people around me. It makes me ill that people have the right to say crap mean while have never step foot in that person's shoes. Everyone has their own paths in life they choose to take and for a woman who may not say it out loud but proves to be tainted and not good to be around then I say don't bother. If she doesn't want your son and her daughter to be friends (for whatever reason) then why continue to befriend someone who is like that?
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Old 11-19-2010, 08:18 AM   #8
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First of all...if your son and her daughter want to be around each other at their age, for whatever reasons, they will find a way

I'd say, because of the length of your friendship, if these are the only issues let it go...ignore them the best you can and enjoy the rest of the time.....

Maybe creating a little distance in the relationship will help too...

Some of my old friends can be a real PITA sometimes! I have one that seems to be always negative about everything...I have learned to just blow it off...he must not be that happy of a person by his own fault....

but he is still my friend....we just don't do as much together as we used to...

who knows...maybe I am a PITA to my friends sometimes....

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Old 11-19-2010, 08:45 AM   #9
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I think it sounds like your friend, trying to "hobnob" with the "successful" people and boasting about her own kids's accomplishments to the point that she is suggesting yours is not "good enough", is because she has an inferiority complex deep down. My mom is kinda like that -- she grew up poor, married well for her 2nd marriage, and is the most status-oriented and materialistic person I know.

I think when you feel truly successful and happy with where you are in life, it becomes unimportant to "prove" to others how well off you are. It really sounds to me like your friend thinks she has something to prove.

Stay friends with her? I don't think it's really a decision you have to make. If you feel like talking to her, give her a call. If her snooty/snotty attitude gets on your nerves when you call, make it longer till the next call. If you find that all she's ever talking about is how great her kids are, and "by the way, what's your Johnny up to these days? Doesn't sound like he's making much progress." just quit calling. No need to officially break it off, but life is too short to spend time talking to people who rub you the wrong way, or straight up tick you off!
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Old 11-19-2010, 08:55 AM   #10
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Well, I'm certainly no expert as my signature indicates I'm fairly new to this game and everyone loves a baby, but I just couldn't in good faith keep a friendship with someone who had a low opinion of my son - a part of me - a product of MY parenting choices.

Is your son a GOOD person? Because when we're all dead & buried, does anyone remember someone fondly and say, "Well, he was a jerk, but hey, he did have a luxury sedan!!!"... no. They remember, "He was good to me" <- and to me, that is all that matters about a person.

And I couldn't stay friends with people who can't see what is really important about human character

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Old 12-17-2010, 06:44 PM   #11
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Wow! You guys all have such good insights and words of wisdom, you've given me a well-rounded perspective on how to handle this.

I do agree that there is some deep-down insecurity driving her negative behavior. While she is very intelligent, she herself only has a GED. It makes total sense that she feels a need to compensate.

I tend to just chuckle at her antics when I recognize them. She makes candy every year for Christmas, and has her son deliver this candy to these Exceptional Families she's met through her son. Once, her son said, "but Mom, I don't even TALK to them anymore!" Her response was, "Oh, but [son's name], we do it for them EVERY year, we can't stop now!" Clearly, there is a certain amount of wanting to impress these people.

I also agree that you have to question whether a friendship is worth it, if you feel negativity from that person when there are so many other rewarding friendships out there to have.

I usually live my life in a simple way: if you do or say something I don't like, I share my concern so we can move on, and there isn't anything harboring below the surface in some sort of passive-aggressive way. I don't feel as free to do this with her on this particular topic, and I've never really had this kind of situation come up, where I don't feel totally free to discuss my concerns.

I guess I've decided that putting a little distance in the friendship is the best way to go at this point. I do think less of someone who is so caught up in, well, Keeping Up Appearances. As others have mentioned, how close can you really be to someone who looks down on others because of their perceived socio-economic status, especially when you don't do that yourself?

I guess just dialing back a notch is the thing to do for now, and let it naturally run its course. If something ever does come up and she questions my decision or behavior, I can explain my concern at that time.

Thank you all again for your input. There were a lot of very good things to think about in here. What an interesting group!
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Old 12-18-2010, 10:03 PM   #12
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I came across a simple concept a year ago that changed my life. It starts with the quote

"You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with." - Jim. Rohn

Make a list of all the people in your life and put a + or - sign next to each person. Are they positive people who make you feel empowered or "psychic vampires" people who are full of negative energy and suck the life out of you. When your spending time with someone ask yourself "Do I want to be like this person?" if the answer is no, don't spend time with them.

It is better to spend an evening alone than with people who are going to bring you down.

For me being selective about the people I spend time with has made a HUGE difference. I realized that I used to bend over backwards to make "psychic vampires" like me. I lost sleep over people I didn't even like. I recently had a "friend" post a semi-racist and distasteful rant on facebook and now without thinking decided to not see them anymore. In the past I would have let it go.

Also it seems like she is trying to be someone through her kids. ie "If your someone than by default I'm someone." This is not fair to her children. It also seems like she has a huge ego.

PS. I think its great that your supporting your son through his bumps in the road and wanting to do his own thing. The early 20s are a tough time and it probably means alot to him to know his mom has his back whichever road he chooses to take.
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Old 12-20-2010, 02:47 PM   #13
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I agree, I think a little distance in the friendship may do you both some good. Maybe give her a chance to reflect on the slack in communication and give you a chance to realize if you miss it or not. If after time you realize you do miss her company, I would find a way to talk to her about it.
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Old 12-21-2010, 02:11 PM   #14
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My mother in law does this to my DH (her son), her daughter, and me. She has a friend who's daughter has done very well in school, went straight from high school to the university where I work. She has a 4.0, graduated with honors, so on.
I can ignore it most of the time, but it is very irritating. I now change the subject or leave the room every time it happens.
My DH went in to the Army from high school and worked once he was discharged. He went to school and got an AA degree and has a great job as a locksmith, with a company vehicle to take home.
Her daughter is a courier for a laboratory company with a company vehicle as well, she has a GED, but not a desire for further schooling.
I tried college straight out of high school, but wasn't focused enough. I worked in retail, hospitality, restaurants, theme parks until I got my dream job here. I am now taking advantage of free tuition for employees and will (eventually) earn a degree.
We all have different paths before us and free choice. Those choices have led me to marry my wonderful DH, have a son, and pursue my version of the American dream. I do not need permission, but it is hard to be compared to someone else, especially someone who has no family to consider.
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