Sage Advice: Mom Friends Need Kindergarten Friendship Advice

By Amy Dickinson | May 23rd, 2018


Dear Amy: This past year, I made a new friend with the mother of a child in my daughter’s class. “Christina” is intelligent, interesting and funny.

I very much enjoy her company, and our children get along great. Sounds perfect, right? Except for this: Christina is constantly inviting us to do things, only to cancel. She cancels at least three-quarters of the activities we plan. She will solicit our attendance, and then (usually at the last minute) remember something else she had planned, or her daughter will be too tired or not interested anymore, etc.

I understand that things with kids can be dicey. I know it’s normal for children this age to be fickle.

The thing that bothers me is that this happens so often, and my daughter is inevitably disappointed. I’ve tried not telling her about any plans we make until we are on the way to the activity, but even so, that is no guarantee that Christina and her daughter will actually show up.

In addition to the school connection, this family also attends our church, so the two children will be seeing each other six out of every seven days for the foreseeable future.

Should I just stop mentioning any plans I make with this family, and if they show up, it’s a nice surprise? Should I shy away from future invitations from Christina? Should I say something to her?

She doesn’t seem to acknowledge that she is constantly letting us down after making plans. When they DO follow through, the girls have a wonderful time (as do the moms).

Can you shed some light on this?

– Wondering Mother

Dear Wondering: Yes, children can be fickle. But guess how children learn how NOT to be fickle? That’s right – their parents teach them, both by example (by being reliable, themselves), and by words: “Hey, you’re going to go on that playdate because you said you would. Others are counting on you to do what you say you will do.”

This mom, “Christina,” might have OCD or another cognitive organizational issue that contributes to her unreliability and (probably unintentional) rudeness, and so it’s possible that this terrible tendency won’t easily be tamed. Imagine what it is like to be the child of such a disorganized whirlwind!

You should speak to her about this. Say, “I’m someone who really needs to follow through, and it’s a roller coaster for me and my daughter when you cancel at the last minute.” I also think it’s a good idea to explain this to your daughter in advance of getting together: “Christina changes her plans a lot, but we can give this a try, anyway, and see if they’ll show up.”

The natural consequence for this would be to not make advance plans with this duo. This does not necessarily preclude a nice friendship, however. Spontaneous get-togethers (after church, after school) might be the way to go for now.

In the tradition of the great personal advice columnists, Chicago Tribune’s Amy Dickinson is a plainspoken straight shooter who relates to readers of all ages. She answers personal questions by addressing issues from both her head and her heart. A solid reporter, Dickinson researches her topics to provide readers with informed opinions and answers. Ask Amy, P.O. Box 194, Freeville, NY 13068

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