When your friend parents differently than you, it can be a little bit hard because it puts you in an awkward situation. With that being said, it can be a great teaching moment for your child.
So… how do you cope when your friend parents differently than you? My (dear) friend and I are completely different in our parenting styles. My kids are in bed at 7:00, hers stay up until 11:00. My kids watch TV in the mornings, hers don’t watch it until the weekends. We are different, but sometimes I think that’s what makes us such good friends.
If your friend’s child is still well behaved and you are OK with your child hanging out with hers, then just choose to laugh about it…
- When your friend is nervous to let her child outside while your kids are running loose in the yard, just laugh. Take it with a grain of salt. Go outside with her to make her comfortable.
- When your friend reprimands her kids for climbing up the slide (following your kids) and you tell her that it’s ok — “it’s good for their muscles,” just remember that you each do things for different reasons.
- If your friend volunteers every day in the school and you never make it in, ask her to send you a picture of your kiddo. Send one back with a silly face and ask her to show your child.
- On the days where your friend’s daughter is bundled up, like the kid on Christmas Story, while yours heads out in just a jacket…laugh about how you are so different.
- Try not to judge. Don’t talk about your friend to other friends. I once heard the best advice… “Don’t say anything to anyone if you don’t want to get back to them. If you never talk bad, it can never get back to that person.” I use this advice daily. I don’t talk or write mean things about anyone because it will inevitably get back to them. If I talk about someone parenting differently than me, I will just say it to their face — “We are so different! Opposites attract!” It is the truth. If you think about it… who are we to judge?
We asked our readers on Facebook what they thought about being friends with someone that parents completely differently than you and they had some great advice:
- “Isn’t this a good time to teach acceptance of other people rather than just keep them away because you have different parenting views? I explain to mine what my beliefs are in how I parent and how I feel it will help them as they get older and leave home to explore the world. Kids always want the truth.” ~Kristie Jeffs
- “If your kids are old enough to know what’s acceptable behavior and what’s not, there shouldn’t need to be an explanation for not saying certain words or acting a certain way. Your kids are just testing you. It should be a given that they can’t act like that. If they are acting up around those kids, it’s not your friend’s fault or her kids’. Your kids are going to be around a lot of different people throughout their lives. Use this as a chance to teach them not to change their behavior around others just because. I’d get off the friend’s case and start building that strong foundation at home. You could also explain [to your kids] why that behavior is not tolerated.” ~Jessica Lee M.
If, however, this child is teaching your child harmful habits or putting your child in danger, the friendship needs to turn a new corner…
- If a friendship puts your child in danger, talk about it and find a solution. I don’t like our sons to go to one friends house because they let them walk around the neighborhood without supervision. I’m laid back, but I’m just not THAT laid back. Our children are still very young and this makes me very nervous (but I’ll save that for another article). I have my boundaries and they always come into play when it comes to putting someone in danger.
- You may need to explain the reason to your child and try to have an adult-only friendship. You could try talking to the other parent first about what it is that you disapprove of, but you may run the risk of ruining your friendship, too.
- Try talking to the parents and explaining that in order for the friendship to work, you will each have to talk to the kids about following the house rules. Example: “When Johnny is in our house, we do not run through the house or say mean words. He will have to follow these rules in order to play here.”
- “I have a friend who lets her kids run all over the house, she’ll argue with them, this and that, and I don’t allow that kind of thing with my kids. When I’m at her house I try to let the rules bend just a little. But they know what is expected of them. When they say “so and so is doing it,” I simply say, “I am not so and so’s mother.” ~ Emma Jean Sandy
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