Your child has a new best friend. They can't see enough of each other, and are constantly running back and forth for play dates; sharing secrets and secret handshakes. It's terrific. Except for one thing. Because there's one secret you don't want them to know: You can't stand the kid's mom. Just like you can't pick your relatives, you also can't pick the parents of your child's BFF. And this can be a challenge.
When the kids are younger, and the friendship is new, you might invite the mom of your child's playmate over as well, or stick around her house, as you feel out the relationship and your comfort level with the child, and the family's life.
Sometimes you can find a new close friend yourself; the perfect arrangement. But what do you do if you discover you just don't click with her? As the kids get older, they start to ask why you don't want to be friends with Junior's Mom anymore, leading to some uncomfortable and not entirely truthful answers.
It could be a general lack of kinship, or it could be more than that, including being uncomfortable with sending your child to their house. Of course, you can always try to insist on having the friend to your house more often, but that becomes a burden as well.
So what to do? Try these tips before you reach the end of your relationship rope.
1) Don't say anything negative about the child, or their family, to your own child. It will be repeated back, and it can be extremely uncomfortable and hurtful for the kids, as well as for the adult involved. Bite your tongue and find excuses not to engage on a one to one level.
2) Keep conversation between yourself and her to a minimum - once kids are old enough to use the phone and make their own play dates, you just have to give your permission through them. Limit the at-the-door conversation and politely decline if there is an invitation to talk further. You don't have to force yourself to like each other.
3) Resist sharing with other friends of yours about the issue; gossip travels quickly and neighbourhood and school circles are small. If you're complaining on-line, be prepared to have it read or passed on by other moms as well. You might lose some friends who feel inclined to "take sides".
4) If you're truly not comfortable with the other child's home environment, don't allow your child to visit there without you. Keep the relationship at your house as much as you can, assuming you are okay about your child being friends with them, regardless of their family life.
5) If you're in an unavoidable situation where you have to interact with the other mom, try to enlist a mutual friend to come along too. This should help diffuse some of the tension and help to distract you from why you are so annoyed. Why are you so annoyed with them? It can be useful to logically think it through and determine whether you can overcome it for your child's sake. But if not, move on.
6) Don't be a martyr and have the entire family over just because your child is insisting on it. It's not worth it and could establish a precedent for future gatherings. Keep your relationship at a courteous and comfortable distance. Don't feel bad about declining invitations either. Most families are extremely busy and it can be easy to find 'excuses' for not finding the time.
"Life is too short and time too brief to spend time with people you don't like", says Jo-Anne Wallace, mom of two. "We've decided we need to like the whole package (i.e. kids and adults) in order to hang out." Now that's a secret worth sharing.