When Mrs. Ifeyinwa Ibekwe and her family moved to another state, a friendly family welcomed her. She thought she had found the perfect friends for both her and her five- year- old daughter, Eberechi, since her new neighbours had a girl the same age.
It seemed like the perfect situation because she liked the woman and her daughter also seemed nice. Everything was fine for the first year. They would all hang out together and do lots of mommy-daughter things.
But Mrs. Ibekwe noted that around the time Eberechi turned six, the other kid started being mean. “Eberechi would be over there and the girl would refuse to play with her, shut her out of her room or tell her she didn’t like her anymore,” says Ibekwe. Poor Eberechi was enamoured with the girl whom she firmly considered to be her best friend even though she was a year older than her.
Mrs. Ibekwe knew if she forbade Eberechi from spending time with the neighbour, it could make matters worse. “I didn’t want this child hanging around my daughter anymore, but Eberechi really liked her. I can’t choose her friends, but this girl was hurting her and I needed to protect her.”
Mothers, as your child grows older, you have less say in who he or she hangs out with. Your child may love loud friends or the ones who feel entitled, or even rude friends and decide to bring them home. This means you have to interact with them, even if you can’t stand them.
Here are ways you can deal with not liking your child’s best friend.
As much as you want to get involved, the best course of action is to hold your tongue. Your child’s friends are your child’s friends; they are not our friends. But monitor what goes on with your child when they are around this person you don’t like.
You also have to ask yourself: What exactly is it that I don’t like about this child? If the friend just rubs you the wrong way, all you can do is cross your fingers and hope the friendship runs its course.
If the friend’s behaviour is concerning or causing issues, the friend is belittling your child or his rude behaviour is rubbing off, it’s worth having a chat with your child about what makes a good friend, how to handle sticky social situations and how you expect him or her to act. But don’t step in right away.
Talk to your child about other children he should become friends with, and initiate play dates with them. Eventually, your child will broaden his friend network, and the friend you don’t like will fade in importance.
Keep the focus on your own child if he starts picking up bad habits from a friend. Talk to your child about acceptable behaviour in your family. Don’t blame the other child, as this takes the responsibility out of your child’s hands.
But if your child is suffering emotional or physical abuse at the hands of a friend, you have to intervene. If you know the friend’s parents well and decide to speak to them, stick to factual observations. If the other parents aren’t concerned or can’t change the behaviour, then start declining play date invitations. Do what you can to encourage healthy friendships and discourage less healthy ones.