How do I maintain social boundaries in a small community?
posted by lakersfan1222 to Human Relations (28 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I live with my daughter in a small rural community. We were part of a small, close group of kids and moms who were the core of our family social life at a tiny community school before branching out into new small schools in the same system. Of course, relationships change, and I can accept that, but recently, a couple of moms excluded my daughter from a birthday party that every other kid in the group was invited to. The moms/girls in question went to a different community school in the same district this year, but the rest of the core group is in school with my daughter. They are all in elementary school. My daughter heard about the party at the lunch table at school, she was upset and embarrassed. We were both offended, considering the history that we had with these people. The exclusion was unexpected and thoughtless, and without going into gory details, I just want to say that I am not overreacting here. My daughter's relationship with one of the kids has always been a little rocky, but I made sure that that that this girl was included in every single group activity that I initiated. I did this because, hey, these kids are growing up together, will see each other often, and they should all grow up with the idea that everyone is okay and included, or at least learn how to get along with the people in your community. My daughter and I both felt betrayed. I didn't let on to my daughter how badly her exclusion had hurt me as well, and we just talked it out between us on the basis that these things are gonna happen, and it won't be the last time, and chin up and go get 'em and you have plenty of other friends, and let me know if you want to talk about anything. No big.
So, after a lot of reflection, I realized that well, I don't really like these women anyway, I would not be friends with them if our kids were not stuck in the same little school system together, and underneath it all, they obviously don't share my values. I am still angry about it and I feel like I don't know how to handle running into these people in the future. Because I have not expressed to either of them how I feel (and probably won't, I'm not sure that it's a good idea....I did write an email to one of them, then deleted it.) If anyone brings it up to me directly, I will definitely address it in a diplomatic way, but I am certainly not going to initiate a conversation about it. But, I don't know, maybe I should. The "right time" for that may or not ever come.
But here is where I am stuck. So far, I have pointedly ignored them or been cold when I see them. I feel like this is immature and I should be able to handle seeing them on a regular basis with more grace, yet without giving any indication that I am open to friendship. Every bit of me wants to hand them a passive aggressive fuck you every time I see them, but yeah, that's not an awesome long-term plan. I have self-esteem issues, so I struggle constantly with how and when to stand up for myself. I have been talking to my therapist about these moms for a while, regarding other issues related to promoting healthy group dynamics, and have always come to the conclusion that it is better to align with my values of inclusion and community rather than cut off the relationships because of what may be at stake for my daughter. But, the birthday party thing pushed this into totally different territory and I am at a loss. Do you any of you smart guys have any idears? I don't think it's positive for myself or my daughter to go all mom vs. mom, and yes, we have and are making more friends in the school system. I hope that I have been clear here, and also hope that it is clear that I am seeking a compassionate solution. I'm too close to this issue to be able to see it very clearly.