It’s the awkward situation parents are all too familiar with. Your kid doesn’t want to be friends with another child and suddenly you’re caught in the middle. A mom took to Reddit’s Parenting forum to share her quandary, which began when her 11-year-old son started to grow apart from one of his friends.
“The problem is the mother of this former friend always texts asking for a play date with my son and hers,” she wrote. “My son begs to be let out of it because he doesn’t want to hang out with this kid. I usually suggest something we’re already doing – going to the park, etc. – so that the boys don’t have to spend one on one time together, but I need to find a way to let her down gently without constantly making excuses.”
The whole situation is a little frustrating for the mom. She’s not the “gatekeeper” to her son’s social life and, at this point, he makes his own plans with his friends. The Reddit user added that she’s spoken to her son about the fact that he’s welcome to spend time with whoever he chooses but should always be kind. “We just don’t know how to end this friendship naturally without feelings being hurt,” she concluded. “Any suggestions are helpful!”
Reddit came through with solidarity and advice. Other parents noted that they, too, have dealt with the same uncomfortable situation. “My kiddo and I are too awkward to shut things down so I just keep making excuses,” one commenter said. “And mom keeps wanting to hang out with me too but I’m pretty introverted and feel very maxed out and happy with who I spend my time on right now.”
People felt sympathetic for all parties involved — it’s not a pleasant scenario for the Reddit user and her child or for this boy who wants a friend. The best solution, multiple commenters reinforced, was gentleness with a touch of avoidance.
“This makes me so sad for the other boy. He tried and failed and then asked his mom for help,” a user wrote. “It is not your son’s job to befriend him though, so I guess if he just really can’t stand the thought of hanging out occasionally the best option is to tell a soft version of the truth. ‘My son doesn’t want me to schedule any social events for him, he said he’ll arrange them himself from now on.’”
Another person suggested this phrasing: “Tell the mother that you’re no longer in charge of his social life. Any requests should be between the boys.”
However, some felt that honestly was the best policy here. “It’s kind of a teachable moment for the other kid and his mom that if they ask and are turned down they need to move on,” someone added. “Adults’ understanding of consent and coercion starts when they are young. Hopefully the other kid will find other friendships. I know that this age sucks and kids are trapped in small social circles, but he may need to pursue some activities outside of that school.”
This is such a tricky spot for all involved. There’s no textbook right way to handle the situation in a way that keeps everyone happy. Have you dealt with something similar? What’s the best solution?
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