kids

Help! I think my friend's daughter is bullying her.

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Alana and I have known each other since our babies were six weeks old. We were in the same mother’s group together. Me, there with my first born and she was there with her second.

Alana had a tragic story. Her first husband died suddenly, leaving her to raise their then 7-month-old daughter, Abby, alone. She had done just that for several years. That was until she met Greg, who fell in love with Alana and Abby equally.

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As their relationship flourished, Greg treated Abby as his own and still does. He is, by all accounts, a great father to both of the girls. I know deep down though that Alana feels as though she owes Abby something because her real father isn't around. She's alluded to that several times over the years, like she somehow let her daughter down and that it was her fault that the family she dreamed of having wasn't the one she was left with.

Abby was always a bright friendly child but she had that streak. The one that pushes the boundaries. She would be the child playing the "exclusion games" with other kids and liked to be the boss. She knew when to play them too, when the adults were not looking.

I always just put it down to girls. I knew that girls played differently from boys and like all kids, I thought it was a stage. To me, I guess they all go through those stages when they're leaning how to interact with other kids. At that time Abby was just going through a stage. She would learn that excluding people wasn't the way to make friends.

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Alana was on to it quick-smart and, like any good parent, wanted to teach her child that bullying and hurting people's feelings was wrong. But I always thought she went easy on Abby. Of course, I never said anything because it wasn't my place, but she'd make excuses. As we stood there in a group and a child came running over to say that Abby said she couldn't play because she "had brown hair", Alana would turn to the parents are provide a lukewarm response as to why Abby was being like that. "She didn't sleep well last night,"or, "She's been out of sorts since we came back from my mum and dads". We'd all nod, and provide some unspoken support.

Abby is now a pre-teen and as a friend, I'm growing increasingly concerned about Alana because from all accounts, she is being bullied - by her own daughter.

In friendly conversation, Alana has mentioned that Abby regularly calls her names, makes fun of her weight. She jokes about her "fat mum' in front of her friends and berates her mother until she gets what she wants.

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Is is becoming a brat? Maybe, but I think it's more than that. If you remove the mother/daughter title, what you have is a bully.

Abby has learned how to push the right buttons when it comes to her mother. She will bring up the death of her father at inappropriate times to get the desired reaction. For example; Abby recently asked her mum if she could go to the movies with some friends and Alana said no, on account of the fact that they had a family gathering on that afternoon. Well, the tantrum that she unleashed was diabolical. She called her mother every name under the sun, she attacked her appearance, her mothering, she called her stupid. She threatened to upload photos of her mother in the shower to Facebook!

I know Alana feels like Abby was robbed of the perfect childhood and as someone who's never been in that situation it's hard to say what I would do, but, I think I'm watching my friend become a victim of bullying and I just don't know what to do.

Watch Mamamia confessions: The time I felt like a terrible mother. 

Tags: bullying , mother , parenting-2 , relationship
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