As parents we are all prepared for the inevitable first time our child befriends another child whose parents we absolutely can’t stand, but what do you do when the parents aren’t the problem? No matter how old or how close a friend is, there are only so many “Your kid bit my kid in the face,” or “Your kid is hoarding all the toys and then defending them like a rabid wildebeest,” conversations that your friendship can take before it crumbles.

How do you tell your friend that you just can’t stand their kid?

Sometimes honesty is the best policy. With that in mind, I’ve drafted a friendly break-up letter to help you navigate just such an awkward situation.

(This letter is intended for snarky entertainment and cathartic purposes only. Please be kind to your friends and their offspring, no matter how challenging they might be. That having been said, you know you’ve met a kid like this before. So enjoy the fantasy.)

Dear loved one,

I’m not really sure how to say this, so I’m just going to do it quickly, like ripping off a band-aid…

I love you, but I can’t stand your kid.

I’ve known for a while now, but I haven’t been able to admit it to myself or anyone else. At first I thought it was just a phase or a difficult time I was going through, but after the third pair of my expensive underwear your daughter flushed down my toilet I can’t deny it any longer. She and I just aren’t meant to be together. It’s not her fault. She has many wonderful qualities, such as her ability to shriek at a frequency only heard by dogs. You never know, she could be a millionaire reality tv star someday. I’ve seen Duck Dynasty.

It’s not her; it’s me, really. I think I’m going through a selfish stage in my life where I don’t want to have to search my entire house for my car keys, which she has hidden in a plant pot, garbage can, toilet tank, fish tank, or other highly imaginative location. Although I admire her persistence and creativity, I’m running out of spare key fobs, and those things are expensive.

She has left a lasting impression on even the smallest members of our family. Months after she shaved the dog’s head with my husband’s electric razor, he still hides under the sofa at the sound of any small motor or vibrating appliance. Last time I used my electric toothbrush he peed on the bedroom floor. These are life experiences that you can’t put a price on. Believe me, I’ve tried.

And who could forget the series of professional photos we had taken for our son’s birthday? They feature a very prominent black eye from the time your daughter slammed the door in his face after inviting him to follow her into the back yard. Women are unpredictable and capricious. He’s lucky to learn this at such a young age. In case he ever forgets, we have the documentation to remind him. Plus, I think they give him that dangerous, devil-may-care look that parents are always striving to capture in their two-year-olds. So, thanks for that.

I hope that we can still be friends, but I understand if it’s just too awkward for the next 15 years or so. Perhaps I’m high maintenance, but I feel that a three year old should eat his or her lunch sitting in a chair rather than standing on the kitchen table throwing crackers at another child. I do not believe my son should be hiding in the bathroom for an hour during a play date just to avoid his “friend.” I also expect that a single lock on the front door should be enough to stop a child from escaping into traffic. Maybe I have unrealistic expectations.

We’ve been growing apart for some time now. We have different hobbies and interests. It’s purely a matter of taste, but I enjoy an occasional break from the maniacal shrieking followed by the telltale thud of my child being pushed to the floor. I have to admit that I’ve been thinking about having play dates with other people. I find myself daydreaming about conversations that aren’t interrupted every 30 seconds by fighting, crying, whining, and destruction. We used to talk about such things, but I can’t remember the last time we finished a sentence. It’s not fair to either of us. We have so many things to say, and we deserve someone who can hear us over the screaming.

I’m sorry for any pain this may cause and for the loss of our weekly play date, but I can no longer carry on the charade. I have to be true to myself and the truth is: I love you, but I can’t stand your child. There, I said it. I feel so much better. And remember, if you ever need a friend or someone to talk to, I’m here for you.

As long as it’s after bedtime.

All my love,
Outmanned Mommy

Written by Mary Widdicks
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Twitter at @MaryWiddicks.
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  1. My husband was concerned about the level of my laughter, so I invited him to read along with me. Very quickly he joined me in snort laughing! Awesome piece Outmanned!

  2. I can’t understand why the parents allow their children to behave so wildly. No child comes in to the world understanding how to behave, but we the parents are supposed to socialise them from go to whoa.

    • My kids all tried some of the behaviours described, but they were quickly shut down. How dare a person go to someone else’s house and inflict this sort of thing?

  3. Shelley Mead Reply

    Yep. My son has a friend that clogged our toilet 3 times. Tossed all the pool chairs in the pool. Messed with neighbors laundry in the laundry room and locked the door while manager was out of town. Showed our cat how scarey people are. Ate an astounding amount of food in the middle of the night. Broke a couple of my kids toys out of resentment. Yelled at his mom n called her names when she called. And one time responded to somthing I said with “that’s what she said”. Uuuuhhhgggh…

  4. I can so relate. When my daughter was little I had to end friendships with women who were seemingly incapable of setting limits with their kid. It’s painful but sometimes you just have to put your foot down. This subject matter is on point. Thank you for writing it.

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