Can parents be friends if the kids don’t get along?

Published: September 12, 2011 | Last Updated: September 12, 2011 By | 2 Replies Continue Reading

Problems with kids’ friendships often spill over to their parents



Dear Irene,

My son and another couple’s son don’t
get along. The other kid has some issues and has tried to hurt my son either
verbally or physically several times over the past few years (put his hands
around his neck a few times, pushed him off a bicycle). Although we like the
parents, we are having a difficult time with this situation. My son has sort of
"let things go" in the past, because he understands that this child
has some issues (e.g. he cannot control his anger, etc.)


However, the last thing that happened
was a game changer. He pushed my son off of his bike while my husband and the
other dad were there. I am upset because, my son never got an apology and not
even a phone call to see if he was okay. We felt bad for this child in the past
and my son has always defended him to other kids at school, even though he has
been the recipient of this child’s abuse. This has been going on for over 4


We have not socialized with this couple
since this last incident. I went to their house to let them know how
hurt and disappointed I felt, thinking maybe an apology phone call might
come, but it never did. I have come to the decision that the kids don’t have to
be friends. I am also finding it very difficult to "let go" of this
and pretend it didn’t happen and resume our friendship. Am I wrong to feel this

Signed, Leah



Dear Leah, 

Since the physical aggression has been repeated over time
and takes places even with adult supervision, I would share your concern that your
son’s physical safety may be in jeopardy. I completely understand wanting to
back off from the relationship with the kid—and the other family.


I admire your son’s understanding of his friend’s
disability. This speaks well of him and the parenting he has received. My heart
aches for the other family who seem to have an out-of-control kid who likely
has emotional problems of one sort or another. The parents may be embarrassed,
humiliated, or depressed about their son’s abusive behavior and their inability
to control it; perhaps, they are in denial. It sounds like they need more
professional help and support. Even if the kid’s behavior isn’t a deal-breaker,
it seems like the parents’ non-response is. 

Hope this helps. 

Best, Irene


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  1. Anonymous says:

    I have been scrolling this blog to see if anyone else had a similar situation to mine, and I’m relieved to find another mother has posted the problem here. I was very good friends with the mother of a boy who has some serious behavioral issues. Her three year old son was kicked out of a preschool and he has had write-ups at two of the new schools he transferred to. I tried to make the Mom feel better, but at the same time I thought that maybe their son needed help. Then her son attacked my son numerous times. My son has had scratches on his cheeks, has been hit on the head hard with long wooden blocks, and has been hit and pushed repeatedly by my friend’s son. If I got an apology from the Mom, it didn’t make me feel much better because I had a feeling her son would do the same thing again. That’s when I decided to tell the Mom that we had to stop hanging out. I realized that I’m the one who is meeting this friend and her son at museums and playdates, and that I don’t have to do that anymore. Of course, she was initially very defensive, but she later sent me an e-mail saying that she understood. We hardly talk anymore and I feel kind of bad because we were once really good friends. I’ve talked to other friends and our preschool teacher about the situation, and they’ve all told me that I have to do what’s best for my son. Everyone has told me that I’ve done the right thing.

  2. Anonymous says:

    I recently severed a friendship over this exact same issue. It was especially charged because these people were our next door neighbors. Their son did not have any behavioral issues as such…but he did have a new baby brother whom I think he perceived as “stealing” attention from his parents.

    This boy and his parents would come over to our house and he would repeatedly be mean to my toddler. Not only would he yell at him and pull toys out of his hands, he would push him down the steep hill in our backyard, dump rocks on his head and turn the hose on him full blast in the face.

    All of these incidents happened in front of his parents, and besides a lukewarm “don’t do that” we never saw any other repercussions. They would brag about how “sweet” and “gentle” their son was while I’d see him waiting for adults to leave the room so he could hurt younger kids.

    Finally, after the rock-dumping incident, I confronted the mother. Her excuse was that her son “doesn’t like little kids” and “this is just his personality”. He and my older son were very close friends, but this was unacceptable to me, and I stopped all play dates with this family.

    A few months later the mother actually tried to start a play group and day care for toddlers in her home! She asked if I would consider joining and I said no. She asked if I would write her a reference and I declined. Following that, she wrote a letter to me in which she accused my older son of hurting her baby! I am guessing that she did this as some sort of retaliation attempt, because our children had had no social contact with this family for nine months at this point. (I denied this in writing to her, but it was scary to realize that she would go that far.)

    I would say to the writer that it’s wise to cut all ties to this family. Your child’s safety and well being come first. It sounds like these other parents are struggling to control their son and might benefit from enrolling him in some behavioral therapy. But parents are touchy when it comes to their kids, and you never know how they will react to criticism. If you haven’t gotten an apology, I would keep as much distance between you as you can.

    I realize that my experience may be extreme…I hope this helps.

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