When You Don’t Like Your Kid’s Friend

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.

Experience this? Comment below or Contact Us if you have other parenting questions you’d like to see addressed.

ding 9 comments on “When You Don’t Like Your Kid’s Friend

  1. Thanks for this!! I am going through the same thing- I am choosing to ‘faze’ out ‘the friend’. It is a hard one struggle though. I want to be honest, but I also doesn’t want to be a jerk!

  2. Great post Molly!!! Transference can happen with many interactions of people….. Are your feelings towards this person authentic or are they transferred from a previous interaction or relationship? Anthony Fazzary CPC

  3. I am sure this is not a problem of transference. I don’t like my daughter’s friend because she make too many fart jokes, thinks it’s funny to show her butt, touch her vagina and says that various things look like penis heads. I do realize that she is the youngest of four children (the oldest child in that family just turned 18!), so she is exposed to quite a variety of language that her parents cannot control. In fact, I really like the parents, especially the mom who is a wonderful, sweet and generous person. I just dislike the behavior — a lot! I try to set rules. Her response is to now whisper her bad jokes in my daughter’s ear. Just now (yes, she is here right now and will be spending the night!), and this also bothers me, she asked for a third cookie. I never make more than two per child. She also ate two bananas just before that (instead of one). She eats constantly. I am trying not to be judgmental, but she eats twice as much as my husband! I have never seen a little girl quite like her. Also, my younger child is only 21 months old, and this ‘friend’ always treats her badly — pushing, shoving, telling her to “get away from me”. That kind of thing. This, I try to tell myself is because she is the youngest (and must get that a lot from her older siblings). Most of my daughter’s other friends have younger brothers or sisters and are just as sweet as can be with the toddler, but this girl is so obnoxious in my opinion…what do I do? She is my daughter’s “best friend” and a horrible influence on my daughter’s behavior (not the case when other wonderful kids come over). By the way, they are both five years old and in Kindergarten.

    • Nony – sounds like plenty of reasons to be concerned. I agree, this doesn’t sound like a transference; this sounds like an out of control friend who can be emotionally destructive. I would think of as many ways possible to change your daughter’s focus of friends as you could. For both of your kids. It sounds like your daughter has a number of friends – why not encourage those friends more. Maybe making it more difficult for her friend to come over.
      Good luck!

      • Thanks! It was already a relief to just say those things somewhere. I am sure this child’s behavior is being magnified by the fact that two days ago we had another friend over, an angel — thoughtful, sweet, plays quietly, almost impossibly perfect (even gives kisses to the toddler!) — so that’s a hard act to follow for anyone, but yes, she has lots of other girlfriends that I love having around. I don’t want to dictate who her friends are, but I cannot tolerate bad behavior from my daughter. It’s also not fun to have to tell someone else’s child you don’t approve of their behavior…they are finally asleep (after having to separate them first). Thanks for the support and the advice!

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