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Friends don’t judge—or do they?

April 15, 2009 | By | 11 Replies Continue Reading
Some people feel friends shouldn’t judge each other. Other people feel they shouldn’t judge a friend, per se, but should be honest when someone is doing something potentially risky or hurtful.

QUESTION

Dear Irene,

My friend, Delia, who started out as my babysitter four years ago has been a wonderful blessing for me. Although she is 25 and I am 36, we have children two days apart in age (both 5 1/2). She is a stay at home super mom and I am single working mom.

Delia encouraged me to start college again so I take two classes on Wednesday night; on that night, my daughter spends the night with her and her family. In addition, she is my English tutor and takes my daughter to a lot of events that I can’t attend due to work.

In the past six years, I’ve had one real relationship and she did not approve. Also, I moved and my child was not in the same school district as hers and she didn’t approve of that district. I transferred my daughter back to our original school and drive across town every day. (I did that because she wore me down about the test scores for the school district I moved to.) She said my daughter wouldn’t get to do hardly anything if she weren’t with her. I also started back to church about a year and half ago and she became very upset about that as well.

Last but not least, I recently become engaged and although I’ve had a ten-year friendship with my fiancé, we realized we were in love about 7 months ago she is extremely upset about this. Without writing unnecessary details, I will say he is incarcerated at a minimum-level “golf course” facility and I decided to take my daughter to see him. I took her because he had never seen her before, even though they have spoken weekly for over a year. The visit was wonderful and my daughter was excited to go back as soon as possible to play.

This decision I’ve made has come at a price. Now she will not talk to me. I called her 3 or 4 times over the weekend and she just called this morning to say I didn’t have to pick her daughter up for school; that she would take her. Oh, also my family and other friends are behind me 100% regarding my relationship and my decision to take my daughter last weekend.

I am a friend come rain or shine, no matter the decision, and I don’t make any of my friends feel like our friendship could fold at any minute or for any wrong move. If it is a wrong move, so be it, I’m not here to judge, I’m here to support even if it is a mistake.  What should I do?

RESPONSE

Dear Amy:

Although you are considerably older than your friend, it sounds like she has been a mentor and reliable source of support to you and your daughter, and that you value her friendship.

Her being judgmental and controlling is nothing new. She has consistently expressed her opinions, rather strongly, about how you should lead your life: She didn’t like your former boyfriend; she didn’t approve of your changing school districts; and she didn’t agree with your decision to become involved with your church.

Now Delia obviously has very strong feelings about your relationship with your fiancé and your decision to expose your daughter to him. Just like you listened to her concerns about other issues and hopefully decided for yourself, you need to ask her why she feels this way about your fiancé. Perhaps, some of the reasons for her disapproval are legitimate and would lead you to rethink your decision. Although your friend does sounds very controlling, she may be worried about you and your daughter.

My thinking: Although you haven’t provided details (and the devil is often in the details), if your daughter is only 5 ½, as a single mom, you need to be extremely cautious about the people and situations to which you expose her. For example, if your fiancé is incarcerated for child molestation or the like, that obviously should be a deal-killer.

Some people feel just the way you do—that friends shouldn’t judge each other. Other people feel just as strongly that while they shouldn’t judge a friend, per se, they should be honest and tell her when she is doing something potentially risky or hurtful.

Since you have a history with this friend, perhaps you could talk this specific situation through. After listening to her, you may change your mind about your fiancé or the friendship.

Best,
Irene

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Category: Friends with different ethics, KEEPING FRIENDS

Comments (11)

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  1. jojo says:

    I would be very concerned and upset if one of my best friends became involved with someone who is incarcerated. And, I would be upset if they became “engaged”. For a million reasons: l. someone who is in prison is desperate for love and visits and it is easy for them to “fall” for someone outside; 2. when they get out of prison, it
    will be a whole different story —- they are going to want to “run around” and have all the things that they have been missing in prison; 3. a prisoner meets other prisoners and sometimes “learns” how to be a better criminal when they are in prison; they also “learn” how to be abusive; 4. what kind of job will this man have when he is out of prison? 5. if he cannot make money how will he feel? will he be abusive? 5. the best friend is giving up opportunities to meet available men while being engaged to the prisoner. 6. most people in prison are not innocent and if they are innocent they are going to leave prison with an awful lot of psychological issues. If they are guilty they are poor choices for a spouse

    Of course, if the person in prison is a male version of Martha Stewart === maybe none of this applies! However, I sincerely hope that you reconsider this whole thing with this man. It is just not a good idea on many levels. I urge you to seek out more suitable boyfriends.

    Your friend, while she may be controlling,and wrong about other things, is not really wrong in this case.

  2. lulu says:

    wow i care 2 much
    im going thru similar life cri$i$ 🙂 lolz

  3. Sue Doenim says:

    Do you what you feel is best. This “friend” sounds like some 25 year old kid who thinks she knows everything, like most of them do.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Send her an apology card with a note of how insensitive you were by asking her to reimburse you, and how you regret it.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Amy,

    I dont see your friends actions as based on “any wrong move” but a major decision you made impacting your daughter. It seems she has stuck by you even when she disagreed with other things. There are levels of disapproval and this one, justifiably, is high on her list. Just because your daugher had a good time doesnt mean you did the right thing. Men have good times at strip clubs but does taht mean they should go? Also, even if most of your friends approve, this does not necessarily make it ok either, as I have family and friends whose circle largely approves some not so good things.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Dear Amy,

    YOur problem seems to be about setting boundaries with your friend over decisions you make.As far as the school district and going back to church, those are issues of lesser import that dont make sense for her to get in your business about. I can tell you have some problems about being assertive with boundaries, it would be good for you to read up some on how to do that. If you become friends with her again, allow her her opinions, she has earned that, but if they are not biggies or something that might harm you, you have the right to set boundaries, thank her for caring, but how you feel, and that you have decided to go ahead with this or that.

    On the other hand, there are appropriate and inappropriate boundaries. YOur friend, by being allowed to take care of your daughter, must have qualities that make you know it is a good for her to have this caring adult in her life, especially if you are a single mom. Bringing your daughter to a minimum level facility, and becoming involved with a man who is troubled, does have repercussions on your daughter, and it is not fair to her to impose this relationship on her. If I was a close friend I would have a hard time not objecting to that, for love and concern for both of you.YOur friend has earned the right to care deeply for your daughther and your well being, in her commitment and service to both of you. Frienship, like family, in my opinion, gives one another the right to put in their two cents, and stepping back altogethr is likely your friends attempt to express her legitimate disapproval of imposing this relationship on your daughter. A freind may feel they are condoning something harmful by going along while something their friend is doing seems to them, not good for them. It’s called tough love. If you disagree, remember that it does come from love. Most of all, put yourself in her shoes. Do you think she should just be okay with what youre doing? This is very similar to divorced parents, who need to negotiate and agree on certain values in which their children are raised while they’re apart. You can have some different paramaters but they must be negotiated for the best interests of the child, so that the child understands that the parents are different. But for biggies, the parents usually have to align and if they dont there can be negative repercussions for the child. Your friend is refusing to align your exposing your child to this relationship. While all people are redeemable and while as adults we take our risks, is it fair to a 5 year old to take a risk with this man? The worst case scenario will affect not only you but her.

  7. Belle says:

    The writer of this letter has described her fiance as being incarcerated in a minimum level “golf course” facility without describing the nature of his crime.

    Irene responds to this by advising the writer that she should not, of course, introduce her daughter to someone who is, by chance, incarcerated for child molestation.

    Excuse me, but what child molester would be doing time in a minimum level “golf course” facility?

    Are these letters being read or skimmed before responding to them?

  8. Anonymous says:

    My girlfriend severed ties with me because I broke my plans with her on short notice, plus she won’t answer any of my voice mail messages. I made the mistake of asking her to reimburse me for a concert ticket that I bought from her, knowing that it was non-refundable.

    PLEASE REPLY

  9. african woman says:

    I think it’s right that you talk over the issue in a calm way. Open to her on how you feel about her attitude, at least she will be aware of your feeling. In that way things will be alright.

  10. Sophie says:

    I recently pulled away from a friend for various reasons, including because I felt judgmental of some decisions she was making. I want to be a supportive friend but I just didn’t feel supportive. Still, I didn’t want to put on a Judge Judy attitude every time she talked about her life. Obviously, her life is her choice and I respect her right to live it as she chooses, but the cognitive dissonance of trying to be a good friend when I disliked the choices got to be too uncomfortable. Although she probably wouldn’t see it that way, I feel like I did her a favor by stepping back.

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