• Resolving Problems

Getting along with other another mom in a play group

Published: March 20, 2016 | By | 15 Replies Continue Reading
A woman asks how to handle another mom in a play group who monopolizes conversations and beats topics to death.


Dear Irene,

I am the mother of a four-year-old. I’m friends with some other mothers, mostly for the sake of our children having playmates.

One of the mothers constantly monopolizes conversations. Today, for example, another mother asked her and I a question. The monopolizer began giving her opinion, and when I tried to add to the conversation, she cut me off twice. She ignores verbal and non-verbal cues constantly. I wind up just shutting down and not contributing, because obviously she’s not interested in my opinion. She does this to me more than the other mothers.

This woman is also a person who will ask you something repeatedly even after you’ve given her an her an answer. Similarly, she will beat her opinion and topic to death. She does this with everyone.

She’s younger than me, so I wonder if it’s lack of respect for me as a person, or if she just has bad manners. I probably wouldn’t see this person socially if our children weren’t the same age, but until full-time school starts, I will. Any suggestions to make play dates more bearable for myself? I need to stay friendly for my child’s sake.

Thank You,
Ear Drummed


Hi Ear Drummed,

Moms often make great sacrifices for their kids, including hanging around other moms they might not ordinarily choose as friends.

Some people feel very pressured to speak too much, too often, and aren’t responsive to the usual social cues or give and take that make conversations mutually satisfying.

It sounds like this mom has poor social skills. My guess is that her awkward and annoying behavior isn’t directed at you or any one person, per se. Yet, it can be vexing to be in a group with someone like this whether it is a book group or play group.

Aside from finding another playgroup or limiting the amount of time you spend with this one, there isn’t too much you can do to change her behavior. A few strategies:

  • You might limit conversations with her to the extent possible.
  • You might position yourself (whether it’s sitting or standing) next to other moms and farther away from her.
  • Try not to take her behavior personally, remind yourself why you are there (for your child), remind yourself that your stays will be time-limited, and try to be sympathetic to someone who tends to be off-putting to others.

As you suggest, when your child enters school, it will open up other opportunities for play groups that will be more satisfying to you socially than this one.

Hope this helps.

Best, Irene

You may also want to read this prior post on The Friendship Blog:

Any other tips for dealing with someone who monopolizes conversation? Please add them below. 


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Comments (15)

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  1. Kelly says:

    How about thinking about it from another angle. How would you tell your child to deal with someone that was domineering? Perhaps this is a teachable moment. I like what Amy F said above too.

  2. Salstarat says:

    I have had a similar experience with a very pushy mother when my children were in primary school many years ago. However, this woman was so damn rude it got to the point that she was a constant irritant to everyone TRYING to have a conversation around her with her relentless interruptions, shouting over the top of people without any consideration and completely discounting or ignoring what other people had to say. In the end, I decided that this woman was so insensitive or as thick as two pieces of hardwood and so oblivious to the feelings of others that she needed someone to remind her of her “manners”. I didn’t have long to wait before she interrupted me for the 1000th time on which occasion I finally looked straight into her eye and said:

    “Do you mind? I am in the middle of a sentence and you have just interrupted me, again! Can you PLEASE wait until someone has FINISHED their sentence before you interject?”

    … there was an awkward, dead silence for a minute or two with a couple of mums (in the background) giving me a wink of support. My comment was NOT aggressive nor shouted but it was assertive and put her on notice. The woman was a complete narcissist and such people have absolutely ZERO consideration for others … therefore, sometimes the BLUNT APPROACH is the only course of action that may prove effective. She NEVER interjected (with me) again but I remember that she continued her appalling behaviour with other mothers who were more passive – she could sense which women would allow her to monopolise the conversation and which women would not – I was the top of the latter list but it did irk me that she continued her self centred behaviour with others. Sadly, such anti-social behaviour stems from a desperate need to be the centre of attention and people so afflicted find it extremely hard to change. Fortunately, the woman did me a great favour from then on and avoided me and, luckily, her children ended up going to a different school.

    My advice is to stand up to the woman and let her know that you do NOT like being interrupted whilst you are speaking. Most sociopaths are intimidated by strong people so it might just work …. either way, you have nothing to lose because, let’s face it, she is not the sort of person you would want as a friend.

    • Clara Victor says:

      Now, @Salstarat: What if the situation is like this where you are the only one following all good manners and etiquette in a group while the others in the group either try to avoid you or do not want you in the group because you are too soft-natured or too good for them or you do not indulge in giggly talks and backbiting like they do or they just simply distract when you are talking or be mean when you have your say???????????? ANY advice is appreciated.

      • Salstarat says:

        If that is the case (where ALL the mothers are ill mannered and acting like Mean Girls on a school yard), I would find myself another Playgroup. However, you say you cannot do that (I am wondering why unless there is absolutely no other Playgroup within driving distance) – then I suggest you find yourself another GROUP of mothers to talk to. Life is too short to allow others to treat you in such a contemptible manner. Remember, people will treat you the way YOU allow them to – do not tolerate such behaviour. Whenever the conversation starts to steer towards puerile backbiting, excuse yourself and wander over to other women in the room who display a more mature and courteous attitude.

        • Clara Victor says:

          This is ONE big group. There is no other group or people nearby. Some of them are pretty good but only when they talk to you one-on-one. Like when I’m alone waiting for the bus, if one of them come in, they will talk as if they are very good-natured. But once, some else comes in, they will immediately switch over to that person or persons as if you were absent in that room making me wonder “she was just talking to me, was that a dream?”. I don’t know how to term it, maybe, group attitude or what. Some are mean enough that they cannot even return a smile.

          • Salstarat says:

            How about approaching some of the nicer mothers in the group and suggest to them that you would like to start a NEW playgroup?

          • Kelly says:

            Sometimes it is helpful to understand that other people have pasts and struggles, everyone is just doing the best they can. You never know what someone else has been through or what they are dealing with. This woman probably doesn’t know how frustrating her behaviour can be, I think that being kind is the best thing you can do in the situation. It might be the only thing to keep yourself sane when dealing with this woman!! 🙂

            • Salstarat says:

              Kelly, trust me this woman KNOWS that her behaviour is bad … but the fact remains, that narcissists or sociopaths just don’t CARE about the feelings of others. You can go on and on playing a doormat or you can stand up for yourself. There is a limit to patience with egocentric people. Sometimes the BLUNT approach is the better way … you do not have to be cruel to be blunt, just let her know that you are not prepared to be treated in such an inconsiderate matter. If you lay down like a doormat, this type of person will not only walk all over you but wipe their feet on you as well!

              • Kelly says:

                Salstarat Everyone has different ways of dealing with things. There is no right or wrong way. Just because you’re not confronting someone doesnt mean you’re a doormat.

            • Tracy says:

              I totally disgree. While it’s true that we don’t know peoples’ pasts, there comes a point where behavior is so rude as to need to be called out. It isn’t unkind to let someone know how frustrating their behavior is when it;s this bad – infact it’s a kindness. I have done this myself to a woman who was so highly loud and talkative that no-one could bear her company. Better that she knows than wonders what’s wrong. I think there is WAY too much tolerance over rudeness. If it affects you to the point of leaving a group, I think it’s something worth pointing out. It doesn’t have to be a horrible thing, done gently, it can be the most loving

  3. Clara Victor says:

    Now, @IRENE: What if the situation is like this where you are the only one following all good manners and etiquette in a group while the others in the group either try to avoid you or do not want you in the group because you are too soft-natured or too good for them or you do not indulge in giggly talks and backbiting like they do or they just simply distract when you are talking or be mean when you have your say???????????? ANY advice is appreciated.

  4. Maddie says:

    Just stay friendly and tune her out. Interact more with the other moms. It’s ok to say excuse me and walk away if someone is rambling on.

  5. Amy F says:

    If you’re reacting to this person’s personality, chances are others might be too, so you’re probably not alone in your feelings. Other people might not take issue with her. That’s the challenge of groups and different personalities.
    Since you socialize with her in a group, and not one on one, I’d avoid getting into side bars with her. If she’s beating a topic to death, disengage and let her continue ad nauseum. With 4 year olds, you can easily give the kids some attention or some positive feedback. When someone wants to have the last word, I let them, otherwise I continue the conversation. I wouldn’t try to compete, though I might jump in with “Can we change the topic. Does anyone have a child friendly recommendations for vegetable recipes, I’m trying to get Sally to eat more greens? (or whatever)” Of course you run the risk of this woman having all the ideas.
    One thing that helped me with a particularly controlling person in my social group is to remember her positives. She has many, but they get overshadowed sometimes with the “bull dog” personality traits she shares with your group-mate. My frustrations sometimes make me forget that I do like aspects of her.

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