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  #1  
Old October 19th, 2007, 07:06 PM
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Acquaintances you'd rather not be friends with

Does anyone have any of those?

There's a woman I know through my kids' school who is an absolute train wreck. She has problem after problem... serious health issues, bitter divorce, acrimonious custody battles... you name it. I have known her for 5 years, most of which I have successfully avoided anything other than a "smile and wave as you're walking by" relationship.

The problem is that she has two kids who match my kids in gender and age. Her kids are NICE, and they certainly struggle with adult burdens that shouldn't be placed on them. My kids aren't particularly friends with her kids, although they do like them well enough.

I am (rather stupidly) usually willing to do good deeds. The mom has difficulty leaving her job to collect her kids from school and various functions (games, fall festival days, etc.). They only live a few blocks from the school, but the school (for liability reasons) won't allow them to walk home alone. So I am VERY willing to shuttle her kids home. I LIKE her kids.

The woman OTOH... sigh. I do NOT want to be friends with her. She's very angry, and very bitter (and hey, I'm not saying that she doesn't have a right to be!). Nothing is ever her fault, and everyone else is always wrong. She doesn't ever take time to get the "whole" story... she settles on the version about which she can complain the most. She is ALWAYS seeking conflict and focusing on the negative. And she's a known liar. She has no friends, to the point where people actively dislike and avoid her.

For the record, the dad is no gem either. He is using the kids as a tool to hurt his ex-wife. He doesn't care about them (I know this from his actions that *I* have witnessed. I know not to believe her!!) but he manages to fool everyone else into thinking he's Father of the Year. His kids hate him. (How much of that is brainwashing from the mom? I don't know.)

Another item of importance is that a good friend of mine has taken on this woman as a "project". My friend feels as though the woman looks at her as a mentor, and that the woman WANTS to change, etc. I think my friend is noble, but wrong. I do, however, want to be there for my friend.

Is there a way to be a positive force in the lives of these kids without becoming involved with the mom? Last week at a volleyball game she came and sat next to me (after I was seated) and vented the whole time about a stunt her XH was pulling. I didn't respond except with bland "How frustrating." comments. Frankly, her XH was at the game and I'm scared of him. I wasn't too keen on him seeing her with ME. He's known for stalking behavior (again, things *I* have witnessed).

Anyone have any advice or ideas for me?
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  #2  
Old October 19th, 2007, 07:33 PM
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Another Disheartened DIL Another Disheartened DIL is offline
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Re: Acquaintances you'd rather not be friends with

Kaykay, good for you for caring about those kids. Some people would just walk away from that entire family to avoid having to put up with their parents. If your friend feels it's her mission to "help" this woman, than let her, but don't feel like you have to be sucked in to it. If your friend is seeking support from you, maybe suggest that since she is concentrating on helping the mother, and since your kids are around the same ages, you would like to help with the kids.

When the mother begins venting during one of the childrens' functions, gently tell her that you would really like to concentrate on the kids' games. Or stand up every few moments and cheer for anyone on your kids' teams. And if you really fear her ex seeing her vent to you, then don't hesitate to let her know that you really don't feel comfortable with it. Maybe say something like, "you know, I really don't have a lot of experence in this area. Have you condsidered seeing a family councelor?" You could even have a name ready to suggest that you've heard about from someone else. If that doesn't work, just flat out tell her that you do not feel comfortable discussing these matters with her. Let her know you understand that she is dealing with a lot right now and the best way you feel equipped to help her is by helping out occasionally with the kids.

Hopefully your friend can make some headway with her. You should ask your friend to teach this women about TMI with acquaintances!
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Old October 19th, 2007, 09:10 PM
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Re: Acquaintances you'd rather not be friends with

Thanks Another Disheartened DIL. Yeah, EVERYONE has walked away from that family. Literally... she has NO ONE except my one friend. (At the school, anyway) People scatter when she walks up to me. She has alienated everyone. And no, it's NOT everyone else's fault!

She was really rattled at the game because her ex had slapped her (that day) with YET ANOTHER custody hearing before a judge. Truth be told, I wish I could take each of them by the shoulders and shake them and say "STOP IT!!"

I'm like Reverand Lovejoy's wife in The Simpsons. "Won't somebody PLEASE think of the CHILDREN!"

I pretty much did what you said during the game.
Her: I can't believe that S.O.B. is doing this to me.
Me: That's aggravating. Woo-hoo Emily!! GREAT serve!!
Her: He doesn't even WANT to see the kids.
Me: Hmmmm.... Yaaaaaay!!! That was AWESOME girls!! Way to go, team!
Her: My kids just HATE him anyway because he's so mean to them.
Me: Your kids are so nice. Way to hustle, Erin!!
Her: He's just such a huge jerk.
Me: Oooooohhh... that was ALMOST in bounds... (etc.)

I also hid behind my camera, which thankfully I had with me. I think I took about 30 pictures of DD playing.

At one point she started bashing another parent for talking to her ex. I did stop that hard and fast. I told her that the parent had no idea what her ex has been doing, and she can't control who other people talk to. She did stop right away.

I know they are supposed to be seeing a family counselor. The judge ordered it in the last custody hearing. But I don't really *want* to know that, if that makes sense. I really don't want to know ANYTHING. I want to go back to "smile and wave as you're walking by". I don't want her knowing anything about me (she doesn't) and I don't want to know much about her. And I don't want to sit with her at games.

Even as much as I like her kids, I don't want our families becoming too involved with each other.

I think you have a good idea about talking to my friend about TMI. I feel a little strained around my friend lately, because of this whole thing. On any other topic, we're "normal", but then my friend will mention X that she's helping the woman with and I just think to myself "Ugh." In the beginning of the whole saga (woman turning to my friend desperate for help) I told my friend "don't get involved". She didn't listen, and has since told me that she really feels a calling to help the woman. I can't find the right words, the right time and a gentle way to tell my friend "She's a liar. Don't believe a word she says!" My friend is getting more and more trapped in the web. I've told her that I want to have lunch with her next week, and I plan to put this all out on the table. It's hard, because I'm not very confrontational. I don't want to abandon my friend, but I don't want to go down the path with her.
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Old October 20th, 2007, 07:55 AM
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Re: Acquaintances you'd rather not be friends with

KayKay, I like the advice that Another Disheartened DIL gave you about how to handle this mother. I do know people that I don't want to be friends with because I know they will just take. It's good that you recognize that.

Now, your friend who wants to take her on as a project...I wouldn't say anything more to her. You've already said what you needed to and she's made it apparent that she won't listen (that's what she means be a calling). She's an adult and has to make her own choices. You can tell her that you can't help her. But be prepared to help her pick up the pieces later. Sometimes a good friend has to let the other make a mistake and just be there when they realize it.

The children are another story. If your children want to be friends, they can. They're getting to an age when parents don't have to be friends just because their children are. If you want to give them a ride home, you can. You'll just not be able to stay and chat... gotta run, you know. Just be careful that you don't try to overstep boundaries with your desire to save them. You can't; it's up to their parents to get their acts together.
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Old October 20th, 2007, 02:11 PM
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Re: Acquaintances you'd rather not be friends with

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Originally Posted by 1dilwhosreal View Post
Now, your friend who wants to take her on as a project...I wouldn't say anything more to her. You've already said what you needed to and she's made it apparent that she won't listen (that's what she means be a calling).
Thanks 1dil. That's good advice; I think you're exactly right. I shouldn't say anything to her.


Quote:
Originally Posted by 1dilwhosreal View Post
Just be careful that you don't try to overstep boundaries with your desire to save them. You can't; it's up to their parents to get their acts together.
More good advice. I think I have been doing that (overstepping). Not in "parenting", but in always making sure they have snacks after school and adequate water after a game (which, I guess, would be parenting). I need to back off from that.

My kids like their kids just fine, but don't really want to be "best friends" with them. I won't force my kids to be more friendly than they're comfortable being.

Thanks 1dil!

Another thing I'm wondering about... the woman reneged on an agreement we had a couple of weeks ago, leaving me totally high and dry in a difficult situation. (She says often "Anytime I can repay the favor... PLEASE let me know." So once, I let her know and she agreed to help me out. Two days before she was supposed to do this favor for me, she called and said "So what plans do you have about X situation?" Uh... YOU were supposed to handle it? Nope. She "couldn't" because of totally ridiculous, self-centered reason Y.) I had to scramble for help (thank God for REAL friends!!) but I never said a word to her about it. In a way I was very relieved that I was removed from the reciprocal/friendship situation with her. She showed her true colors to me just in time for me to save myself from trusting her.

Should I tell my friend about THAT situation? I let a hint drop one day but my friend didn't pick it up. Ordinarily, I'd tell my friend about it (if it were someone different) but this woman has this victim mentality and I'm pretty sure would have prepped my friend with some falsities which somehow make her look innocent. There is NO WAY I was at any fault here, except to give her that initial benefit of the doubt.

Thanks for the help everyone. I started this thread mostly to see if anyone else had been in a similar situation, and find out how they handled it and what the outcomes were. Didn't mean to dump all of my detailed problems on y'all.
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Old October 20th, 2007, 02:28 PM
1dilwhosreal 1dilwhosreal is offline
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Re: Acquaintances you'd rather not be friends with

If your friend brings it up, tell her what happened and that's one reason why you believe that she's not to be trusted. It wouldn't be repeating gossip because you have first hand knowledge of what happened. Just say this is what happened to me, but offer no further advice unless she asks. It'll serve as a warning without being too forceful, especially if you wait for her to bring it up.

Then let her make her own decisions.

There also seems to be something else going on here.

This needy person seems to be coming between your relationship with your friend. If she's giving her side of the story and making sure she appears to be the victim, then it appears that she may be trying to turn your friend against you. Do you suspect this? You might talk to your friend about this issue specifically. Very simply, tell her that although you and she may not see eye to eye over this new project but you value your friendship very much and you want her to know that you won't do anything to harm that. It could make all the difference in preserving your friendship with her.
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Old October 20th, 2007, 04:24 PM
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Re: Acquaintances you'd rather not be friends with

Thanks again 1dil. You've given me some really good advice. It helps so much to step out of the situation, which I'm having trouble doing.

I don't think the woman is trying to turn my friend against *me*, per se. She's the type who poisons everything with her negative attitude. The woman automatically makes herself out to be the victim and everyone is against her. I haven't done ANYTHING to this woman, so she doesn't have a single thing to use against me.

And I really trust my friend with that kind of stuff. We've been through a situation a few years ago where someone was trying to turn people against me and this friend was one who stood up and said "NO. That's not true." She is a really good person and knows me really well; she would be able to smell a rat if the other woman was turning her against me. And if there were any questions, she'd certainly come to me with them... I do know that.

Let's hope, anyway...

Maybe just lunch, with lots of laughs and good feelings. Leave the Albatross out of it.
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Old October 24th, 2007, 09:50 AM
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Re: Acquaintances you'd rather not be friends with

Quick update:

I talked to my friend yesterday, but the subject of the woman never came up. My friend told me that she has been feeling so burdened by other people's burdens lately. A lot of people she cares about are having very difficult times in their lives.

Be proud of me!! I kept my lips zipped about Leech Woman, and was very caring about the people she mentioned. (she didn't mention Leech Woman).

The woman called me... let's see... Sunday night to ask a reasonable favor (carting one of her kids) so I said sure. She called my Monday night to ask an unreasonable favor and I said no, sorry. I was flabbergasted that she would ask it, so don't feel any remorse about it except that it will disappoint one of her kids (but it was unreasonable request on behalf of the kid - not something I'd do for my OWN kid).

Sigh.
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Old October 24th, 2007, 09:57 AM
1dilwhosreal 1dilwhosreal is offline
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Re: Acquaintances you'd rather not be friends with

You did the right think, KayKay. People try to make you feel bad for saying no when they shouldn't have asked.
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Old October 24th, 2007, 11:27 AM
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Re: Acquaintances you'd rather not be friends with

Quote:
Originally Posted by KayKay View Post
Quick update:

I talked to my friend yesterday, but the subject of the woman never came up. My friend told me that she has been feeling so burdened by other people's burdens lately. A lot of people she cares about are having very difficult times in their lives.

Be proud of me!! I kept my lips zipped about Leech Woman, and was very caring about the people she mentioned. (she didn't mention Leech Woman).

The woman called me... let's see... Sunday night to ask a reasonable favor (carting one of her kids) so I said sure. She called my Monday night to ask an unreasonable favor and I said no, sorry. I was flabbergasted that she would ask it, so don't feel any remorse about it except that it will disappoint one of her kids (but it was unreasonable request on behalf of the kid - not something I'd do for my OWN kid).

Sigh.
Kay, you definitely did the right thing. I used to have a neighbor that was a single mom, with 3 kids, 2 of them my kids age. So did not mind if they came over after school to play while she ran errands. I know what a pain it is to drag three little ones in and out of stores. Not to mention, I think it gave a few hours of "me time" even if it was just running errands.

On the other hand, she called me up one time and asked me if I would take off from work, load up my 3 kids (2 and 4 at the time) to take her DD1 (11 at the time) to the dentist, wait for her (probably about an hour) then take her back home with me, with only 1 hours notice. Why, because she did not want to take off from work. Um- no. I have a job, that pays money too. She was completely furious with me. To paraphrase, "I'm a single mom, you have no idea how hard it is. You at least have a husband to help." I truly feel bad for having to be a single mom, BUT, does she really think that my DH takes the kids to doctors appointments, dentist, etc... Nope, I do all that, without help. And No, I did not feel guilty either, especially since she felt the need to yell at me for saying no.
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