Why do I dislike my daughter’s friend so much?
MOLLY: This question came from Northern California and the reader elaborated by asking how she can learn to deal with her daughter’s friendships with kids that simply rub her the wrong way? One of the examples she gave is that every time her daughter has a playdate with a certain friend, she has a viscerally negative reaction to the child the entire time she’s at her house.
She asks, “What should I be doing differently? Clearly I’m the adult and should be able to manage these feelings. I also don’t want to manipulate my daughter’s friendships, so I know I’m going to have to figure out a way to be OK with this friend. And, my husband really likes the parents.”
Dr. Susan Rutherford (MOM): This is an interesting –and difficult– dilemma on several levels. First, it’s important for her to realize the reason she’s having such a strong reaction. Chances are that this kid reminds her of someone she doesn’t like (in psychological parlance, this is called transference).
The kid could remind her of one of her parents, siblings, friends, or just some random person in her past. Whenever you have an intense reaction to someone, either positive or negative, and you can’t make sense out of it, chances are it’s a transference. She should see if she can figure out who it might be as that would be a tremendous help for her to figure out her feelings and what to do about them.
MOLLY: Does this happen a lot to people: that they transfer their feelings about one person to another because they are reminded of someone else?
MOM: Yes, transference happens everyday, all the time. It can either be a positive transference where you feel warmly towards someone even though you might barely know him/her, or a negative transference in which you just don’t like that person but have no idea why. This reader’s question is clearly referring to a negative transference.
MOLLY: Should she speak to the parents of the child about it?
MOM: If she wants to maintain her relationship with the parents, it’s best not to say anything. Once you criticize a friend’s child, the chances of keeping a relationship with the parents is close to nil.
MOLLY: What can she say to the kid when she’s over having a playdate with her daughter? Should she say anything or bite her tongue and recognize that her feelings aren’t rational?
MOM: As a mom and a host, we are within our bounds to gently tell a visiting child the rules of our house and to enforce them, within acceptable limits, of course. If the mom is open to it, she might challenge herself to develop a relationship with this child in order to offer her a positive role model upon which to base her behavior.