By Dr. Sherrie Campbell

Isn’t’ that the worst thing to have a friend you adore but you cannot stand her kids? No doubt this puts a strain and wedge in the relationship.  You have to decide when and how to spend time with her.  It isn’t always easy loving other people’s children, but there are truly some children that are impossible to like and the reality of the matter is that it comes down to the parenting. Children, in reality, are a reflection of the parenting, time, love, and attention they are receiving from home.  We all have stories to tell and to share and to keep secret.  So, here are five ways to cope if you have a friend you love with kids you don’t:

  1. Don’t spend time with her if her kids are around:  The easiest solution is to not spend time around your friend if her children are present.  Ask to go out to girl’s lunches, girl’s nights, and times to exercise or go to an adult movie.  This way, you get the benefit of your friend without having to deal with her children, rubbing your last nerve.
  2. Avoid playdates between your children/child and hers:  the situation is even more challenging if you have a child in an age range where there can be playdates.  It is very likely that if you do not enjoy her children that your children will complain to you they also do not enjoy time with them.  It is your responsibility to take care of your children in this situation while also maintaining your friendship.  Distract her with trying to plan adult time instead of playdate time with the kids.
  3. Discuss parenting techniques which have worked with your kids:  Being a parent is no small job. It is the toughest job out there. One great way to enhance your friendship with your friend and possibly help her with her children is to talk about parenting skills which have been life-savers for you. Usually parents know when their kids are out of hand and even annoying, so if you bring these things up casually you may find they are helpful to your friend who just may not be a natural when it comes to parenting.
  4. Put distance in the friendship:  When someone clearly is not parenting their children to be respectful, polite and decent human beings it can change the respect you have for your friend.  If it becomes the case that there is too much tension around her children and your opinion of her has deeply affected your ability to see her the way you used before children, this may need to be a friendship that you back away from.
  5. Be honest with her:  If things are tense and you avoidance tactics are not working, gently express your thoughts and emotions with her in a way that isn’t too cutting to her children but rather simple and truthful like: “I love our adult time together and want to continue to nurture that but I have a hard time being around your children as do my children as it seems they have not yet learned to respect other people’s boundaries which I am sure you are working on.”  In this way, you are stating your need and also letting her know that her children are emotionally out of control which is hard for you and your children to be around.

The apple usually doesn’t fall from the tree. Parents whose children are not disciplined tend to come from parents who have a hard time disciplining themselves.  But give your friend the benefit of the doubt and see if there are any tips you can gently put out there than could help.  If she seems oblivious then limit your time with your friend to “adult time” only.