Ask Zoe is Aleteia’s weekly advice column. If you have a dilemma, question, or need some general advice for your life, email Zoe. All questions are given consideration and names are withheld.
I have a very good friend who I really enjoy spending time with, but we have very different parenting styles. Many of the things she allows her children to do are not things I let mine do. How can I keep this friendship in tact without exposing my own children to rotten behavior? And should I tell this mom about those behaviors?
To be sure, one of the hardest parts of parenting is dealing with other parents! Especially when they are friends or family. We all have different parenting styles, boundaries, standards, and home environments. In addition, our kids can be very different. Sometimes even the most exemplary of parents may have extra boisterous or boundary-testing kids. So, what to do?
Depending on how open your friend is, and the kind of relationship you have, you might broach the subject by telling her that you’d really like to know if she ever sees your kids behaving in a troubling way, and ask if she’d like you to do the same. Then, try it out. Proceed with caution, though: She may say yes and think she wants to hear about it, but then resent it when you report anything. (As I’m sure you’ve experienced, a lot of parents don’t realize how defensive they are when it comes to their kids.)
Or, your friend may appreciate hearing about it and this could spark more conversations about how you both handle certain behavioral issues with your kids. You’ll have to feel this out a bit.
If you can’t make any headway and it continues to be a problem, my best advice would be schedule some girls’ time with your friend every so often without the kids in tow and have more contact by text or phone instead. This probably means seeing less of each other in person, but if your parenting differences are too great, it’s the best way to enjoy (and preserve) the friendship without letting it go out of frustration.
If you have a dilemma or question for Zoe, please send it to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Zoe Romanowsky is the Lifestyle Editor and Video Curator for Aleteia. A freelance writer, blogger, and consultant, she’s been published in many national publications including Real Simple, Catholic Digest, Baltimore Eats, and TruthAtlas. Zoe holds a Masters degree in Counseling from Franciscan University, and a certification in life coaching from the Coaches Training Institute (CTI). She’s an urban homeschooling mother of twins with a weakness for dark chocolate, Instagram, vintage Harleys, and vodka martinis—not necessarily in that order.