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Being friends with a bad mother.

Posted by on Oct. 5, 2011 at 7:32 PM
  • 7 Replies
You Can Be Friends With a Woman Who Is a Bad Mother

Posted by Amy Reiter on Oct 5, 2011 at 11:28 AM

Most of us have had it happen to us, and if you haven't, you're unusually lucky: You have a friend whose kids are around the same age as yours. You may know this friend from before you had kids, or have met her after, but either way, now that you're both in the same parental boat, she proposes a mom-kid double playdate.

But then -- like something out of a horror film -- the dream friend turns into something out of a terrifying nightmare. (Cue scary Psycho music.) 

Her kids are hellions and you hate the idea of subjecting your child to their atrocious behavior. But what's worse is the way your friend deals with her obnoxious offspring: pure denial, or a demented way of justifying even the most dreadful, even dangerous acts. (I once had a mom pal smile and shrug benignly at me as her son pointed a toy gun at my then-3-year-old daughter's head and slowly and painstakingly described in grisly anatomical detail what he imagined would happen to her when he pulled the trigger.)

Can you be friends with a mom who has different parenting philosophies than you do?

These sorts of interactions prompted Imperfect Parent writer Eliana Osborn to pose the question "Can you be friends with a bad mom?" (The question was recently picked up by Washington Post blogger Janice D’Arcy.)

Osborn doesn't think so -- and I totally get why she'd just want to run far and run fast from the encounters she describes from her own life. (Personally, I'm really in no hurry to see that toy-gun kid again.) But -- call me a cock-eyed optimist -- I think there's hope for those mom relationships.

Here are three reasons why:

1. Bad moms don't always equal bad friends: The laissez-faire attitude that allows your mom friend to overlook her child's horrible qualities may help her overlook yours. There's something to be said for a friend who doesn't gasp and judge when she walks into your messy, crumb-strewn house or give you a hard time when you show up for coffee 10 minutes late and with a peanut-butter-and-banana-stained blouse.

2. She could be the key to a rare night out: If you like the mom but not the kids, it's not the worst idea to negotiate with your partner for a little time off the parenting duties. Leave the family at home. Meet your friend for drinks or dinner or a movie or -- heck, if you miraculously have the energy for it -- dancing. And make a rule that you're not going to talk about your kids. That way you don't have to think about all the choices she's making that you think are cracked (or the glowing descriptions about her kids that make you want to roll your eyes or scream), and you can get a break from incessantly focusing on your own brood.

3. Kids do grow and change: Sure, some wretched babies grow into wretched toddlers and then wretched teens and adults. But sometimes, truly bad behavior is just a phase, or rooted in something that is, at some point, diagnosed and treated. Good friends are hard to come by; it might be worth taking a break and giving your pal another chance.

Have you had a good friend who turned out to be a bad mom? How did you handle it?
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by on Oct. 5, 2011 at 7:32 PM
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Replies (1-7):
by on Oct. 5, 2011 at 7:33 PM

No. Most of my friends parent the same way I do or are not far off from what I do. None of them are bad moms at all.

by Michelle on Oct. 5, 2011 at 7:38 PM

I only have a couple friends who are moms and neither of them parent like me, but we are still friends.

by on Oct. 5, 2011 at 7:41 PM

Uh yeah not so much friends anymore. Asked me if her and her son could spend the night because he had an early doctors appointment the next day and it was close to my house. Well come to find out he was being taken in for a mental evaluation and had a fire fetish (quickly run around the house doing a check for lighters). This kid was beyond psycho and I can not believe she took advantage of me like that. Never again.

by on Oct. 5, 2011 at 7:42 PM

I don't think they necessarily need to parent like me but their kids need to be repectful.

by Sarah on Oct. 5, 2011 at 8:19 PM
That is my view on it too. If their kid is a complete terror and doing a lot of things that are big no-no's in our house... my kid isn't hanging out with their kid.

Quoting Karenelysmom:

I don't think they necessarily need to parent like me but their kids need to be repectful.

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by on Oct. 5, 2011 at 9:35 PM
I've not had any friends who were bad moms but I have met a crazy lady a time or two...
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by on Oct. 5, 2011 at 9:52 PM

I have a few acquaitances/friends who parent different from me, Its not usually an issue.

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