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My Friend Freaked -- Over the Octuplets!

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Here's the latest installment of the Friendship Court.

Two woman arguing

Renee from Michigan writes: My friend Irene is divorced with four children. She has a loser of an ex-husband and struggles to make ends meet. We were recently out for lunch with a group of women and everyone was talking about Nadya Suleman and her octuplets. I said I thought Nadya was a freak and that she was completely wrong to bring eight more children into this world when she is a single mother who exists on government loans and food stamps.

Another woman at the table agreed with me and said she thinks the government should take her fourteen children away and give them to families desperate to have kids. Another woman chimed in about how our tax dollars have to pay for Suleman's children's subsistence while she works two jobs to support hers. Irene did not say a word. After lunch, when I was driving Irene home, she chewed me out and said that what I said was equivalent to saying that the government should be able to take her children and that I was a terrible friend for not sticking up for her when the other women said things. Then she got out of the car without saying goodbye and hasn't called me since. I am so confused. Did I do something wrong? I don't know if this friendship can be saved but I will feel better after hearing your answer.

Leslie Adler: Dear Renee: I think you are innocent of the charge of being a "terrible friend." I am guessing that what Irene is feeling has nothing to do with you or Nadya Suleman. You and the others around the table stated opinions and good friendships can withstand differences of opinion. The comment about taking away the kids, though a little harsh, doesn't seem to me to translate to a judgment about Irene's life. However, maybe you could have been more sensitive to Irene's insecurities about raising her children alone and potential fears about needing government assistance or, worse, having her children taken away. If the friendship is worth saving, even if you think Irene is being irrational, you should call her and say that the conversation was merely about current events and economics, and it never occurred to you that Irene would think it was about her because you simply don't put her in the same category as Nadya Suleman. Tell her how much you respect her efforts as a single mom and leave the ball in her court to call when she feels like chatting.

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17 comments so far | Post a comment now
anonymous February 20, 2009, 9:24 AM

It seems to me that Irene may have felt that her opinion wouldn’t have been respected in that conversation. Maybe she has been on government assistance in the past or maybe she is on it right now, or maybe not. Either way she clearly felt that she couldn’t express her opinions at that table. Whether that had to do with the tone of the conversation or her own insecurities or a bit of both doesn’t matter because what it says about your friendship is that you have a friend who didn’t trust you enough to be respectful of her opinions and to me that says more about you than her. You should apologize for giving her that impression (only if you mean it of course) and let her know that in the future you would love to hear her opinions even if they differ from yours.

Gigohead  February 20, 2009, 9:46 AM

I don’t blame the friend for being upset. I think it’s so easy for people to say “Off with her head, take her kids away” until you have been in that situation. I am the foster mother of my nephew who is 4 years old. His mother is schizophrenia. She is a very loving mother but unfortunately she has had her bout of hospitalizations and that triggered the dept of children services to take her son away. He went into 6 homes until I was approved (the process is very long). Taking away children is not an easy fix all solution. There is much life-long scars to consider.

I’m sorry but until she is proven of some type of neglect (which she has never been accused off) or abuse, I think people should reserve judgment. I do think her obsession with kids has finally come to an end. She will need to find the means to support her children. It’s not in my place to suggest her children should go to those without children. I’m sorry, but I don’t believe in giving children away to those who deserve it, they are NOT property or food.

anon February 20, 2009, 10:54 AM

I question HOW a woman on government aid could AFFORD invitro?

There are people who make decent incomes who cannot afford the process which takes thousands and thousands of dollars.

How the HELL did this happen?

I think it is very poor judgement, I also don’t think ONE mom can handle 8 newborns with no help.

It is selfish.

Dee February 20, 2009, 11:08 AM

I think you got backwards. Irene need to be the one to apologize. She was so self absorbed she made the conversation about her when it was about a media event. Also, if you have to tippy toe around your friend for all your comments, she is not much of a friend. I would have more respect for her as a friend if she told me in a respectful way that she disagreed.

Anonymous February 20, 2009, 11:36 AM

I think the friend realized she is a loser and probably gets government aid.

michelle February 20, 2009, 3:39 PM

I was thinking the exact thing. Irene knows that she herself is leeching off the system and now feels like crap because she feels they are talking about her not the crazy octomommy

Vanessa February 20, 2009, 4:31 PM

I think perhaps Irene took it a bit personally. Having help from the government doesn’t mean someone is a loser;it means they needed help. The Octuplets woman is a different story. She couldn’t support her kids when she brought more into the world. She also was claiming back problems and collecting money for that. Then she said she wasn’t getting any help, when she is getting 600$ for 3 of her kids who have disabilities. She also gets food stamps and mooches off her own mother who couldn’t afford to pay for her own home and retire the way a woman her age should be able to. I am sure if you point out all the differences to your friend she may see that it wasn’t directed at her. Unfortunately, you have people who take offense when we say Sulemans kids should be taken away, by unfairly comparing themselves to her. They think “I am on welfare too, does this mean my kids should get taken away?” NO. Not necessarily. But this woman is unstable and has been using the system for years. She brought more kids in when she couldn’t feed her own. Getting help to feed your child when you don’t pop kids out like a pez dispenser is different.

former single mom February 20, 2009, 4:56 PM

What people don’t realize is how isolating it is to be a single mom. As a former single mom, I often felt like a square peg that wouldn’t fit into a circle- and that is with a wonderful support group of friends, all of whom were happily married. I am not surprised she reacted that way. It may not have been the best response, but her outburst probably has more to do with her day to day fears, many of which married moms just don’t relate to.

nikki February 20, 2009, 4:58 PM

I agree with telling your friend that you don’t put her in the same category as octomom. Your friend didn’t purposely become a single mom of 4 kids. That’s the major difference. When you make the conscious choice to become a parent, as octomom did when she had IVF, you should be responsible and evaluate your ability to provide for your children. I believe that’s the part that bothers everyone the most. She had 6 children, was already on government assistance and purposely had more children. I’m sure any financial misfortunes your friend has suffered (aka the dead beat ex-husband) weren’t part of her plans, it just happened.
The idea that the octo-kids should be taken away in my opinion based more on the obviously flawed judgement of their mother than on the fact that they receive government assistance. You know my mom was a single mother, and we went through some really tough financial times. She worried sometimes about people taking us away. I’m sure your friend is a great mother who’s doing the best she can. Reassure her and maybe offer to babysit so she can get out without the kids. You guys can definitely patch things up.

nome February 20, 2009, 7:16 PM

there was a time when i needed govt assistance, but i also got off of it as soon as was humanly possible! that is what it’s there for, a temporary bridge to help you get where you need to go. nadya, and many women in this country, make govt assistance their main source of income for life! that is definitely wrong. and i agree with the comment of families who are working and on their own and are not able to afford invitro, so how can this woman who is living off the government and student loans support 6 kids, let alone get treatment for 8 more, and have her lips maintained? i don’t get it.

eemmaann February 20, 2009, 10:51 PM

I totally agree with Vanessa and Nikki. There are millions of people who need gov. help. Everyone has their own story. However, Suleman’s case is different. She divorced without children. She graduated with a bachelor degree. She is the only child in her family. She actually has a pretty good life. Her greediness and selfishness made her into this situation.

maeby February 24, 2009, 7:00 PM

when irene was married she had 4 kids. nadya is single, unemployed and has 14 kids. theres a big difference. irene was just being sensitive. government assistance was made for women like irene who need a little help and are in her situation, not a mother who pays thousands of dollars for invitro and plastic surgery and gets aid so she can take care of her 14 expensive children.

Anonymous February 27, 2009, 7:07 PM

I think the lady should chill out and grow up, she should be able to handle conversations where people will have difference of opinion, i beleive the octomom is dumb for making the move she did and trying to depend on others to help her with the mistake she made. Irene need to realize that her and the octo mom are in different situations. Irene needs to be the one calling to make the apology for acting childish.

vochoa0371 March 2, 2009, 2:37 PM

Silly reason for breakig up your friendship. Irene, I know you have four kids and probably received/are receiving assistance from the state/government, but do not break up your friendship because you saw yourself in Octomom’s shoes. You are not in Octomom’s shoes. Assistance is temporary but Octomom wants it for life. Irene, you do not need to apologize but go there and be friends and give your friend a hug. She is thinking worse of you if you do not see her because of this. Take care Irene and I respect that you are working and taking care of your kids. See the big difference between you and Octomom? You are working and she is begging for help. Keep up the good work.

Cassandra March 4, 2009, 7:15 PM

I am curious if this single mom conceived her children through invitro when she was single with no income and no place of her own to live. I’m guessing not since you mentioned an ex-husband which makes her situation totally different than Nadya’s. I am assuming this friend of yours recieves assistance of some kind and therefore took the remarks personally, however while some people on welfare are there because of their own stupidity, many are there because they got screwed over or because of uncontrollable situations.

mature March 5, 2009, 11:18 PM

A case of “Don’t tell me how to raise my kids,bytch”.
Ladies these two women are very mature,they can settle the matter on their own,after all they are super, ultra,mega mature women.
AMIRITE? ^=^ kawaii

Immobilier Bretagne March 7, 2011, 7:25 AM

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