Junior High Redux: Bounced from a mom’s group

March 18, 2009 | By | 3 Replies Continue Reading

QUESTION

Hi Irene,

It’s been two months since I attended a Mom’s group and had a falling out with two of the mothers. They have pretty much soured my relationship with most of the other mothers in the group.

 

Three months ago, I cancelled a play date at my house because a predicted snowstorm was announced on the news. One of the mothers, Sandy, tried to make me look bad by sending out an e-mail to the whole group saying that she was shocked that I was canceling. I was mad so I sent another e-mail to everyone explaining that the mayor had asked people not to drive and that all local schools were closed.

 

Sandy defriended me on Facebook, I assumed, because I had cancelled the play date. Another mother, Beth (who is good friends with Sandy), told me that she thought that Sandy was overly upset, but that I shouldn’t have sent my e-mail afterwards. I was really good friends with Beth whom I trusted. I shared my thoughts and feelings with her when I was unsure of someone in our group and she did the same with me.

 

Anyhow, she went behind my back and started talking to Sandy about me. I later talked to Sandy, who told be that Beth went back to her telling her all this stuff I had said about her. Beth said I was exhausting her with my worries about who was mad at me and she made me feel terrible. She later told me that she didn’t want to hang out with me any more so I defriended her on Facebook.

 

I apologized to Sandy and said I wasn’t serious about most of the stuff I had said about her (that she thought I was a bad mother; that she was overly opinionated for believing that babies should be trained a certain way, etc.). I explained that I was upset when I said those things to Beth and that I needed a break to forget about it.

 

After that, things seemed good. I ran into Sandy at our babies’ swim lessons and she was friendly and sweet but since the swim class ended, I haven’t heard from anyone in the group. Only two of the eight Moms seem like they still talk to me. Since then, Beth has become friends with the moms who used to annoy her.

 

I know that my baby and I are better off without most of these people, but I’m still bothered that most of these moms took Beth’s side. It bugs me that things ended so badly with them. I had fun times with this group and I had hoped to watch our babies play together into toddlerhood. I have joined other groups, and this has helped me feel better. I still wonder how I should act if I run into these former friends around town. One of my friends, who wasn’t in the group, thinks I should give Beth a dirty look if I ever see her again.

 

I haven’t been through something like this since junior high. A lot of these moms are not true friends. It still hurts to be the one that everyone excluded.

Signed,
Leticia

 

ANSWER

Dear Leticia:

It’s a horrible feeling to be excluded from a group and I’m sure you are reeling from the experience. You chose to respond defensively to Sandy in a very public way. While Sandy shouldn’t have sent the initial email to all the other moms criticizing your decision, you only escalated the conflict by responding with an email that went to all the moms. It might have worked out better if you had called her directly and explained your position. My guess is that someone else would have come to your defense online.

 

Then you made the mistake of gossiping about Sandy to Beth, whom you knew were both good friends. When Beth got upset about this, you defriended her on Facebook. Although it’s someone else’s suggestion, now you are considering giving her a dirty look.

 

This is a mom’s group that came together because you all had kids of similar ages. You probably should have eased yourself into the group and studied the people and their relationships with each other before you treated them as close friends with whom you would share confidences.

 

You made the mistake of lashing out at Sandy by email and defriending Beth on Facebook, actions I suspect you would have been hesitant to do face-to-face. Although this commonly happens on the Internet, it’s something you should be careful about in the future.

 

It does seem like at least some of these moms act like adolescents but you also bear some of the blame. Try to learn from this experience. Next time, take it more slowly when you join a new group. Another suggestion: Always take the high road and treat people the way you would like to be treated—especially if you are going to see them again! As easy and tempting as it may be, don’t respond to a nasty email with another. Don’t defriend someone on Facebook when you are likely to encounter her again in your town.

 

I’m glad that you have found a new group where you can start anew. Since your child is so young, it should be easy for her to adjust to the new kids. Act friendly and open when you bump into these other women. Since they live in your town, you may find yourself on the same committee of the PTA or sharing the duties of class mothers. By then, this upset will be long forgotten by everyone.

Best of luck,
Irene

 

 

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Comments (3)

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  1. Leticia says:

    Hi Irene. Thanks for your response. I agree with most of what you advised except for just a couple of things:

    I wouldn’t have been hesitant to point out that the inclement weather was too harsh to drive in to Sandy’s face had she criticized me in front of everyone. I was really worried about everyone, and I wanted everyone to know that the mayor was asking everyone not to drive unless they absolutely had to. I had one Mom who wholeheartedly agreed with me, but she was too scared to say anything to the other Moms about it. She ended up defriending me on FB just because the two other Moms turned against me (which she later apologized for). Beth also agreed with me about the storm, but then she decided to side with Sandy when she read Sandy’s e-mail. It was after that, that I realized most of these women were cowards.

    As for defriending Beth on Facebook, she told me in an e-mail that she did not want to hang out anymore, so I did not want to see her name listed as a “Friend” on FB anymore. Why would I want to know what she’s been up to? Why would I allow her access to see what I’ve been up to? It just made sense to defriend her. I would have explained this to her in person had she agreed to meet with me, but she wouldn’t talk to me in person.

    And at the time I was complaining about Sandy to Beth, I didn’t think I was gossiping about her. Sandy criticized me in front of the whole group for using a silicone-nippled sippy cup, so I was venting my frustrations to Beth, which I thought would be okay because Beth and I were close. We were good friends before going into the moms group and I knew her before she met Sandy. Anyhow, I have friends who vent to me about people we are mutually friends with, and I would NEVER tell the other person what was said. I know that people need to vent when they’re upset, so I don’t take anything they say as the last word on how they feel about someone. I guess I consider gossip as being more dirty and catty (example: “She wore that same outfit yesterday.”).

    I will take your advice on taking it slow in future groups, but it’s hard when you’re looking for that mom you can really click with.

    • Amy says:

      I know my response is quite a few years later than the original post, but just wanted to give my support to Leticia. Standing up for yourself when you are being publicly humiliated, or being smeared a bit especially by someone in a peer group of friends, is I think OK to do. I think that is a normal reaction, which should have been understood by the others. The group should have stood up for Leticia more so and put Beth in her place more so for her original response, by letting Beth know those kind of comments hurt the cohesiveness of the group. Taking the high road is a good choice when things start turning really ugly, but nobody is perfect all the time, especially when someone is trying to out you or knock you down a few notches in a group. I have taken the high road plenty of times with personalities similar to perhaps this Beth person, for it only to turn ugly down the road anyways, because these personalities will just keep targeting and targeting you until you end up having to stand up for yourself down the road anyways. Which sounds like the other women in the group would have probably treated you the same way down the road. So really it’s probably good you found out sooner than later who these women were and save yourself any more heartache.

      Regarding Facebook and defriending, I think setting boundaries is healthy. Out of respect for all parties involved why would any of you want to know what the other is doing in their personal life anyhow. If your not friendly anymore, it would seem a bit invasive to have people know what you are doing, especially if they are already judging you and being unsupportive in the first place.

      Feeling like your being picked on in a group and feeling hurt about that and wanting to reach out for support in the group, especially to a prior friend is NOT gossip. For the women Sandy to tell Beth what Leticia said is pretty low and lacks a whole lot of character
      herself.

      I wouldn’t give a dirty look, because now is the time to take the high road. I would just ignore these women. If you happen to run into them, I would just avoid and ignore them. If they approach you in a friendly manner, I wouldn’t trust any of them, just be cordial, kind, keep it very, very short and then quickly move on. Overall be the emotionally mature one and quickly move on.

      After being bullied by the best of them, I’ve learned to grow a strong backbone, and have pretty strong boundaries, which does offend some people. However it’s mostly only the narcissistic, entitled. toxic personalities who don’t like me very much. Most good kind loving people you would want in your life would never treat you like this anyway.

      I hope everything worked out for you. I’m sure you discovered like many of us unfortunately do, that this type of behavior doesn’t stop when our children our toddlers, it can get worse as our kids get older too. The elementary school years really brings out the junior high school mean-girl bad behavior in a lot of mamas out there. I don’t know why this happens but it can be quite ugly. Now that my kids our teens and navigating their own lives more, I’ve not only grown to be a pretty tough person, and I’m sure you will too and have, but it’s also nice because your not as exposed to these types of women so much anymore either.

      Take care.

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