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View Full Version : Bullied by "Best Friend", Again (warning: long)



Gabriela
12-21-2011, 09:39 AM
I'm starting to think we have a real problem. It's going to be a long one...

We live in a very impoverished village - the kind where most houses have 10 people living in three rooms, no flush toilets, dirt floors... you get the picture. We live here because we want the country life, but also because I run a social project here.

We are far from wealthy, but have much more than most of the people around us.
My son has his own room, eats three meals a day, knows his birthday, brushes his teeth regularly, has never been belted, isn't Christian...
These are just some of the things that make him one-of-a-kind amongst his peers.

He had a best friend for about a year, and it ended terribly.
About six months later, he made another "best" friend.
We were very happy because the boy seemed very sweet and comfortable in our home.
His mother started letting him spend the night.

He came last Saturday and stayed for two nights. Then his mom called and asked if he could stay a third night because she needed to go somewhere and wouldn't be home. We said yes, thrilled for our son. It seemed like they were having a really good time.
They had a melt-down at one point, but I figured it was normal. I remember fighting with my friends, no biggie.

The next day, the boys came to me asking if he could stay through Christmas. His mom had called again saying he could!!? I said that he could stay one more night, but then grandma was coming, and people need to be with their families for Christmas (for all the obvious reasons plus the culture shock it would mean for him).

30 mins later, the boy comes out with his stuff to go home. I asked him why he was leaving, and he muttered something about other friends possibly visiting him. Once he left, I realized that my son was a mess. He was all wound up, looked like he was about to cry, and would barely talk. Finally, he told me that, from 1-10, their days together had been a 5. But why? It looked like you were having fun.

To not make this longer, I'll tell one of the 20+ ways of the boy was bullying my son:

When they went to bed, the boy started kicking the covers. My son nicely asked him to stop. He didn't. Son asked again, and again. Finally, son took his pillow and went to lay down on the floor. Boy asked if son was coming back to bed. Son said he would if boy stopped kicking. Boy said "stay there then, because I'm still kicking". This happened another three times before boy finally agreed to stop kicking. Son was on floor for about an hour.

I explained the differences between how he lives and how we live. How he might feel that it's SO unfair. How he might feel powerless, so he bullies in this way to feel like he has some control.

My son has grown up around human rights and conflict resolution people. He is extraordinarily mature in his way of dealing with these things. He confronts a problem with the kind of reasoning and words one would expect from an adult, but not from the average child. But the boy was obviously being totally unreasonable and playing mind games. He was constantly threatening with no longer being son's friend, even though son was doing his very best hosting. Boy wouldn't help make bed, pick up toys, share... But he would put on a very different suit when dh and I were around, so we didn't even notice any of this was happening right under our noses. He is 3 years older, but much smaller in size than our son. I don't feel he is "older" in any other way than age - emotionally, intellectually or academically.

Since the exact same thing has happened twice now - with first friend and second friend - I'm really starting to worry that my son is never going to make a true friend here. We're just too different, and it seems like that is always going to get in the way. Dh and I have a small international group of friends who live here part-time, but most of them don't have kids, except for one couple. They have a girl same age as our son. They're friends, but not besties.

I really don't know what to do anymore. I'm also realizing that son is bottling it up. He doesn't talk about it unless I start putting words in his mouth, like - that really sucked, you must be really pissed off, what did you say?/what did he say? If I didn't insist, he wouldn't say much at all. But once it starts coming out, it's like a slow-motion projectile vomit of confusion, anger, frustration and sadness.

I worry most that he will go to extreme measures to keep a friend.
What if next time around the manipulation leads to someone getting physically hurt?

He's perfectly happy when it's just the three of us. We have a blast.
The loneliness only comes up when he has a friend who's letting him down.
Should I just keep him away from "best-friend" relationships?

Sorry for such a long post. And thanks for reading this far.

Riceball_Mommy
12-21-2011, 10:13 AM
It is terrible to be bullied. Also sometimes not having a "best friend" relationship is ok. If your son is happy with just your family unit and some occasional friends I wouldn't push for more. At least until you can find a kid that's not going to behave that way toward him. A real best friend, or even friend won't treat you that way. Someone who threatens to stop being your friend over something trivial is best told "Fine, go."

inmom
12-21-2011, 10:59 AM
My ds is older than yours (14), and he's always been an introvert. He's happiest on his own and with family. He's not antisocial; he is polite with others and belongs to 4-H and a teen national park progam.

It seems like your son is a younger version of mine. If he's happy otherwise, I wouldn't worry about a "best friend."

Gabriela
12-21-2011, 11:10 AM
My ds is older than yours (14), and he's always been an introvert. He's happiest on his own and with family. He's not antisocial; he is polite with others and belongs to 4-H and a teen national park progam.

It seems like your son is a younger version of mine. If he's happy otherwise, I wouldn't worry about a "best friend."

Yeah. He does great in structured group and team activities.
It makes me sad because he's such a good friend. So polite, and cool.
But it does make me want to just keep it a party of three (ds, dh and me).

Gabriela
12-21-2011, 11:17 AM
I'm also sitting here thinking -
If my son were in a wheelchair, or was blind, or had a severe behavioral disorder,
he would kind of be in the same position in that-
he's treated differently because of something that he cannot change.

I'm really leaning towards only supervised activities with other kids.
Somebody slap me out of it if it's too over the top.

Riceball_Mommy
12-21-2011, 11:18 AM
I'm also sitting here thinking -
If my son were in a wheelchair, or was blind, or had a severe behavioral disorder,
he would kind of be in the same position in that-
he's treated differently because of something that he cannot change.

I'm really leaning towards only supervised activities with other kids.
Somebody slap me out of it if it's too over the top.

I think that's a good idea. That way you can intervene if need be and with some kids they may behave better knowing there is an adult watching.

dbmamaz
12-21-2011, 11:23 AM
i keep thinking it is a cultural difference . . . my husband grew up french canadian and very poor, and it really sounds like the 'normal' way for him to deal with people was just so much rougher than I what I grew up with . . . and i've seen ppl before that really think you have to toughen up and learn to play that rough game. It even reminds me - some cultures have a tradition of pushing cake in a kids face on their birthday, I think? and i saw a discussion of it - most ppl said its important to keep the kid humble, they learn that even on 'thier' day, they can fall, they learn to have a sense of humor . . . but at least one woman said it was done to her and she was humiliated and furious and still wont talk to her family. And it makes me think of the article (which i didnt read) that said that some people are predisposed to question religion - and so many here, even, have indicated that - that even growing up very religious, they could never believe it.

Not helpful, i know. Even here, in the south, its harder for my kids to make freinds than it would have been further north. My daughter esp.

And maybe its just me, but i would never have a kid sleep over several nights in a row. i guess i've never had a best freind like that, nor have my kids. My kids always need some space away from their freinds.

so for me, i'd say, no, dont try for a best freind. Try for balance. Some times with freinds and some with family, but nothing that overboard. I also think of the whole 'culture of childhood' - thats one of the thigns that some homeschoolers want to AVOID - leaving kids alone too long where they make up their own playground rules which can be really cruel . . because the bullies rule, the 'strongest' personalities who are willing to push the hardest will win.

Ok, also, i personally would discuss with both boys that there are house rules - that if the boy is going to be rude, you can take him home in the middle of the night or make him sleep in the living room.

i'm all over the place and probably not helpful, sorry

Gabriela
12-21-2011, 11:30 AM
It's actually very helpful Dbmamaz. Very. Thank you.
I have to remember that his childhood isn't going to be like mine, and that there are many ways to be happy.
I guess I have this idea in my head for the recipe for a happy childhood that I need to get rid of.

btw - the face in the cake is done here too. i hate it.

Amanadoo
12-21-2011, 11:47 AM
I am sorry that your family is struggling. And I will second the above that having a best friend all the time isn't necessary (imo it's not a big loss, but obviously if your son feels it it, then it is.)

I wanted to say, though, that that is just a long time to spend with someone. I know some don't (I guess--folks claim they don't anyway), but in my experience even families that live together every day have kids...be it siblings or cousins or foster kids or whatever...they will get on each others nerves in a thousand different ways. The kicking thing you describe sounds annoying but SO normal, and not a bully issue at all. I mean that just sounds like a couple of kids getting on each other's nerves to me. My cousins and I did that stuff to each other all the time growing up. Then, when my mom had an in-home daycare, I did it with my friends she babysat.

Like I say, it's very clear that you are having an issue, one way or the other regardless of what an internet lady thousands of miles away thinks of it. But *maybe* consider that if you don't want annoyances, just don't spend so much time with a person?

Gabriela
12-21-2011, 11:55 AM
Maybe my personal experience isn't letting me be objective. And thanks Amanadoo for pointing out that it's not that terrible an act of bullying.
I was an only child (like ds), and I guess I was just really lucky in that I had one amazing best friend at his age, for several years.
Both of our moms were single working moms, and we were both latchkeys. We spent all day every day together.
I guess that's how I envision the perfect childhood.
It's good to hear that it doesn't have to be.

Amanadoo
12-21-2011, 12:10 PM
Aw that does sound so nice! I had a friend like that, but in later years. We aren't close any more, but do keep in touch. And it's just like old times when we talk on the phone (ie--too loud and almost completely in inside-joke-speak). But you know what, we were, and are, very different. Our families were very different and we lived in different economic stratas.

Fwiw, I think that your son will be fine. From what you write here, it sounds like you and your husband are always trying to evolve with him and honor whatever is going on in his life atm. IMO, that means more than anything that happens, or doesn't happen, with friends.

Batgirl
12-21-2011, 12:32 PM
I guess my first thought would have been, that if this boy has spent so much continuous time around your family, and there are so many cultural/economic differences, that he might have been feeling comfortable enough to start testing boundaries by acting out. And that some house rules and procedures for dealing with problems need to be laid down for him, unequivocally. I mean, maybe he expected your son to smack him, instead of talking to him, and didn't know quite what to do with that, so he kept pushing. Just speculating.

But I second what other people have said about friends, having them and not having them.

TAM
12-21-2011, 12:50 PM
Sorry, but no good advice for you, but a question. Did being a latchkey kid play a major role in being there for your son? Being a latchkey kid was huge for my wife, who abandoned her biochem career 9 years ago to stay home and raise kids.

OrganicFrmGrl
12-21-2011, 12:50 PM
I am sorry this has happpened to your DS and you. It sucks when you feel you child hurting. I would let the kids take a break from each other for a bit. When you feel comfortable letting him come stay, I would let them both know the house rules. The other thing is, there are some kids that I would not allow to spend the night. My DS has several friends, not really a best friend and he has a friend that is kind of out of convienience, meaning the only kid his age that lives kind of close and I am friends with his mom. All of his friends have spent the night but the one! After short play dates DS used to act different and would finally tell me why after pulling it out of him. It basically came down to the kid was and is just a pain in the a**. He would do just annoying stuff like what is happening to your son. We have talked to DS a lot about standing up for himself and being firm with this kid. Your son will be fine!

Gabriela
12-21-2011, 12:59 PM
Sorry, but no good advice for you, but a question. Did being a latchkey kid play a major role in being there for your son? Being a latchkey kid was huge for my wife, who abandoned her biochem career 9 years ago to stay home and raise kids.

Yes, definitely.
I'm doing it in the completely opposite way with my own son.
I would never leave him home alone.
I think that that's part of my dilemma - I'm so overprotective, but at the same want this ideal that is not compatible with my over-protectiveness.
Like Dbmamaz was saying about how some people want their kids to learn how to defend themselves and toughen up....
I do not want that, because I felt so helpless so many times, and I want my son to feel supported and protected for a several more years.

TAM
12-21-2011, 01:22 PM
We have the same sort of over-protection thoughts, and also have a huge culture difference amid the public school teacher and administraters here on the edge of the bible belt. Since we have four kids who love to "travel as a herd", the frequency of play groups and best friends is not a large of issue for us. Click my homepage link for a pic of my happy-go-luck group.

TAM
12-21-2011, 01:24 PM
That should have been, "public school teacher and administrater NEIGHBORHOOD here on the edge of the bible belt."

Virginia
12-21-2011, 05:36 PM
My DD(8) had a similar problem with a little girl who lives next door. We don't have much money, but we apparently have more than her family. We also spend a lot of time with our kids and her parents pawn her and her sisters off on anyone who will take them. Anyway...she would come over all the time to use the pool, play with DD's toys and ride her bike. When she would find a toy that she particularly liked, she would threaten DD that she wouldn't be her friend anymore if she didn't give it to her. DD would hand it over and she would take it home. My DS was witness to this a couple times but no one said anything to us. DS would just say that the kid was mean to his sister and that he didn't like her. FINALLY, someone told me what was going on after my DS had a total meltdown and I demanded to know what his issue was with her. I advised the kid that she couldn't come over anymore and my DD was upset WITH ME! But I figured it was better than having my DS drown her in my pool lol.

Having a "friend" who is cruel to you isn't worth it. I think your son is probably better off without them. It's hard for him to understand that right now, but it will teach him how to spot a real friend and those who are just trying to use him for their own gains.

Gabriela
12-21-2011, 05:53 PM
My DD(8) had a similar problem with a little girl who lives next door. We don't have much money, but we apparently have more than her family. We also spend a lot of time with our kids and her parents pawn her and her sisters off on anyone who will take them. Anyway...she would come over all the time to use the pool, play with DD's toys and ride her bike. When she would find a toy that she particularly liked, she would threaten DD that she wouldn't be her friend anymore if she didn't give it to her. DD would hand it over and she would take it home.

That sounds sooooooo familiar. That's exactly what happens.
He even tried to take a full change of clothes and brand new tennis shoes home once. (after we'd gifted him his own pair of shoes)
Your dd is so lucky to have a brother to look out for her (even though he could have said something sooner, at least he was aware of what was going on)
I'm just afraid that this is always going to happen with all the kids here.

I read some of the comments here to my son. It gave him some perspective, and he's feeling better knowing that he's not the only one.

dbmamaz
12-21-2011, 07:30 PM
Orion had a lot of trouble like that when we lived in worse neighborhoods - he always ended up hanging out with 'freinds' who would order him around and never let him do what he wanted

Stella M
12-21-2011, 09:07 PM
I've found that children's friendships need closer supervision for longer than you'd think.

Hope your boy is feeling a bit better today.

Gabriela
12-21-2011, 09:17 PM
Thanks M.
Yeah, I guess I was under the illusion that I didn't have to worry when he was with his friends.
Sounds pretty silly when I say it out loud.

Stella M
12-21-2011, 09:25 PM
That's what you would hope, isn't it ?

I haven't found that to be true for the majority of my children's friendships :( Kids can get up to stuff that doesn't even cross your mind.

There are two friends I don't need to supervise at all. They have been in our lives for a long time though, 14 years and 10 years.

Idk. It surprises me and it doesn't. Many of the friendships I had as a teen were toxic and could have done with a little more parental interference being run.

ponygirl
12-24-2011, 12:54 AM
We had issues with a girl I grew up with and her son.
My son went to sleep over when he was 5. Over the course of time he was attacked physicaly which I didn't know about and then rung and asked if he cold sleep another night which I agreed to not knowing he had been hurt. I was rung again the next day and asked for another night which I said no too. I went and picked up ds and on the way home I found out he had been hurt the day before. Punched and slapped by the other child. I rang that friend once I got home and discussed it with her and of course she denied everything.
My ds may be many things but he dosn't lie.....ever. I have/had no reason to doubt him and the friendship was ended. I Found out from her sisiter Inlaw that she has lied to her about the same type of things when it involves that child to her as well. I am sad because I grew up with her but she used to lie about stuff all the time as a kid so it was a no brainer who I was going to believe.
We missed them for a while but pleased all the problems are gone.

Sounds like your ds did his best at the time and if he is happy with most of his contact being in your family I would be happy with that.
We have little contact with other children outside our family, sports and homeschool park day. We chose swimming as it's a individual sport and classes are small where we live. no more than 5 children per class.
And started our own Park day with homeschoolers we knew in our area. All the children get along so it's nice and all Mums are nice to each other even though we all have different oppinions and life directions.

Jeni
12-24-2011, 01:56 PM
Only read the op so far, just wanted to say that example might not be bulling. My dd's best friend bangs her head on her pillow until she falls asleep. She's done it since she was a baby. I personally find it creepy behavior but that's just how she is. Her mom told me that she recently went to a sleepover and was so anxious she was up until 2 am while all the other girls were sleeping.

I toss and turn all night long, if my husband wasn't such a sound sleeper, I would be sleeping on the floor every night. People have strange sleeping habits. My sister has to rub her feet or put them between the legs of the person she's sleeping next to. A real issue if she's laying next to me, I need my space. She can't control it.

My only suggestion is to not allow co-sleeping in the future.