THE BLOG
05/16/2009 05:12 am ET Updated Nov 17, 2011

Friends Don't Judge -- Or Do They?

Question

Dear Irene,

My friend, Delia, who started out as my babysitter four years ago has been a wonderful blessing for me. Although she is 25 and I am 36, we have children two days apart in age (both 5 1/2). She is a stay at home super mom and I am single working mom.

Delia encouraged me to start college again so I take two classes on Wednesday night; on that night, my daughter spends the night with her and her family. In addition, she is my English tutor and takes my daughter to a lot of events that I can't attend due to work.

In the past six years, I've had one real relationship and she did not approve. Also, I moved and my child was not in the same school district as hers and she didn't approve of that district. I transferred my daughter back to our original school and drive across town every day. (I did that because she wore me down about the test scores for the school district I moved to.) She said my daughter wouldn't get to do hardly anything if she weren't with her. I also started back to church about a year and half ago and she became very upset about that as well.

Last but not least, I recently become engaged and although I've had a ten-year friendship with my fiancé, we realized we were in love about 7 months ago she is extremely upset about this. Without writing unnecessary details, I will say he is incarcerated at a minimum-level "golf course" facility and I decided to take my daughter to see him. I took her because he had never seen her before, even though they have spoken weekly for over a year. The visit was wonderful and my daughter was excited to go back as soon as possible to play.

This decision I've made has come at a price. Now she will not talk to me. I called her 3 or 4 times over the weekend and she just called this morning to say I didn't have to pick her daughter up for school; that she would take her. Oh, also my family and other friends are behind me 100% regarding my relationship and my decision to take my daughter last weekend.

I am a friend come rain or shine, no matter the decision, and I don't make any of my friends feel like our friendship could fold at any minute or for any wrong move. If it is a wrong move, so be it,
I'm not here to judge, I'm here to support even if it is a mistake. What should I do?

RESPONSE

Dear Amy:

Although you are considerably older than your friend, it sounds like she has been a mentor and reliable source of support to you and your daughter, and that you value her friendship.

Her being judgmental and controlling is nothing new. She has consistently expressed her opinions, rather strongly, about how you should lead your life: She didn't like your former boyfriend; she didn't approve of your changing school districts; and she didn't agree with your decision to become involved with your church.

Now Delia obviously has very strong feelings about your relationship with your fiancé and your decision to expose your daughter to him. Just like you listened to her concerns about other issues and hopefully decided for yourself, you need to ask her why she feels this way about your fiancé. Perhaps, some of the reasons for her disapproval are legitimate and would lead you to rethink your decision. Although your friend does sounds very controlling, she may be worried about you and your daughter.

My thinking: Although you haven't provided details (and the devil is often in the details), if your daughter is only 5 ½, as a single mom, you need to be extremely cautious about the people and situations to which you expose her. For example, if your fiancé is incarcerated for child molestation or the like, that obviously should be a deal-killer.

Some people feel just the way you do--that friends shouldn't judge each other. Other people feel just as strongly that while they shouldn't judge a friend, per se, they should be honest and tell her when she is doing something potentially risky or hurtful.

Since you have a history with this friend, perhaps you could talk this specific situation through. After listening to her, you may change your mind about your fiancé or the friendship.

Best,
Irene

Have a friendship dilemma that is bothering you? Perhaps I can help. Write to me at: Irene@fracturedfriendships.com

Irene S. Levine, PhD is a freelance journalist and author. She holds an appointment as a professor of psychiatry at the New York University School of Medicine and is working on a book about female friendships, Best Friends Forever: Surviving A Break-up With Your Best Friend, that will be published by Overlook Press in September, 2009. She recently co-authored Schizophrenia for Dummies (Wiley, 2008). She also blogs about female friendships at The Friendship Blog.