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Wednesday, January 19, 2022

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ASK MOM: Mom Friend Too Judgmental

Drawing by Suzanne Johnson

Mom Friend Too Judgmental

by Mary Follin and Kristi Crosson

THE PROBLEM: It’s always been hard for me to make mom friends, and I finally got one. At first, I felt like we were kindred spirits. We worry about the same things and have the same sense of humor. But then, I began noticing that she always talks about other moms at the school and especially about their kids. Stuff like, “I can’t believe so-and-so tells her kid to call me by my first name,” and “Did you notice how so-and-so always wears yoga pants so everybody can see how skinny she is?” I’m not really into talking about other people like that, and it makes me uncomfortable. But I don’t want to lose a friend now that I finally found one.

MARY SAYS: Because you identified so quickly with this friend, you probably ARE kindred spirits, even though you’re beginning to question that. Everybody has personality quirks that dominate when they feel nervous and lacking in confidence. Perhaps your new friend is as excited about finding you as you are to find her, and in her enthusiasm, she is trying to make sure you are an ‘ally’ by alienating you from other people.

Try and look beneath the surface on this. True friends are what makes life sweet, and I have a feeling you found each other for a reason.

By demeaning other people—and getting you to agree—perhaps your friend is making sure she ranks superior in your eyes. Putting someone down helps her feel confident you’re on her side, right?

Of course, it doesn’t work that way. So what else could you offer to make her feel more secure in this new friendship?

When she makes an uncomplimentary remark about someone else, distract her. The yoga pants comment, for instance. When she says something like that, simply ask her: “Do you do yoga?” Or when she judges another mother’s parenting style, say something like: “Oh, my. I do that ALL the time! I’ve noticed that you seem to be pretty good about…” While you may feel as though this is pandering to bad behavior, it’s not.

At least, at first.

If, over time, your friend doesn’t ‘get’ that you’d rather not put other people down, then her habit of doing so may be indicative of who she is. Give this a little time to correct itself, but if you don’t see a change, speak to her directly to her about it.

If that doesn’t work, it’s time to move on.

KRISTI SAYS: No one wants to lose a friend, but if she’s talking about these other moms to you, she’s probably also talking about you to other moms. Ouch. And that doesn’t make for a truly good friend. It’s not necessary to give up your values to have a friendship, nor should you be expected to. While it’s unlikely that you’ll change this gossipy mom’s ways in an instant, you can take control of the conversation when it steers toward other moms and their children.

You can approach it from one of two ways. You can either be direct or you can try and passively change the subject. If you are naturally less direct, here are some ways to help you steer the conversation to something different.

Put a positive spin on it

When she says: “I can’t believe so-and-so tells her kid to call me by my first name.”

You can say: “Yeah, it’s a different way of parenting, but her kids are always so respectful. I wonder how she does that. I’m going to go ask her.”

When she says: “Did you notice how so-and-so always wears yoga pants so everybody can see how skinny she is?”

You can say: “With a butt like that, who wouldn’t want to show it off? If you and I spent as much time working out as she does, we could probably pull it off too. I think I’ll ask her for her exercise regimen, I could use some help.

Turn it back on her

When she says: “I can’t believe so-and-so tells her kid to call me by my first name.”

You can say: “It’s a different way of parenting. Kind of like how I let my kids eat ice cream for dinner every Friday night. We all have a different way of doing things.

When she says: “Did you notice how so-and-so always wears yoga pants so everybody can see how skinny she is?”

You can laugh it off and say: “I bet if you and I tried hard enough, we could pull it off too.”

Change the subject

When she says: “I can’t believe so-and-so tells her kid to call me by my first name.”

You can say: “It doesn’t really bother me. What are your plans for this weekend?”

When she says: “Did you notice how so-and-so always wears yoga pants so everybody can see how skinny she is?”

You can laugh it off and say: “You know, I hadn’t really noticed, but that reminds me I need to get to the store to buy new pants later. Do you want to come with me?”

If you use these tactics consistently, eventually she’ll get the hint that you’re not the kind of friend she can gossip to. And one of two things will happen. One, she’ll stop hanging around you as much. Or two, she’ll find more interesting things to talk about than the other moms.

ASK MOM offers parents two perspectives on today’s child-rearing issues—one from a mom with grown children (Mary), the other from a mom raising small children (Kristi). If you’re looking for creative solutions, or your mom isn’t around to ask, drop in! 

If you have a question for Mary and Kristi, we’d love to hear from you! askmomyourquestion@gmail.com

Read more ASK MOM advice.

Mary FollinMary Follin is author of the award-winning children’s book ETHYR and Teach Your Child to Read™, an online phonics program for children ages 3-6. She is mom to two grown kids. For videos, stories, and parenting ideas, follow Mary on Instagram @advice_mom.

Kristi CrossonKristi Crosson is a freelance writer, homeschooling mom of three children, and author of Healthy Mom Revolution, a blog that offers insights on healthy parenting.

Suzanne Johnson, mom of five children and grandma of six, is an illustrator, book cover designer, and author of Realms of Edenocht.

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