Author Topic: Kicking out a new playgroup mom  (Read 36648 times)

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lovepickles

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Kicking out a new playgroup mom
« on: August 29, 2012, 11:46:01 PM »
Greetings EHellions!

I've run into another pickle with my children's playgroup. Well, it is more formal than a playgroup but we'll call it that for convenience.

A bit of background: The playgroup is within a part of a local chapter of a larger national group so it goes something like this:  Mom's Playgroup > Local Mom's Chapter > National Mom's Group. We have frequent playgroup meetings and less frequent chapter meetings. I run a Meetup group to manage the playgroup that is separate from the chapter so people not involved in the playgroup don't get unwanted notices and information. For the most part we all share the same views on raising our children. We have with a few minor exceptions a great group dynamic and a awesome time at each event.

Well, today was a pretty major exception. I have a loose policy of only adding people that are within the local chapter or a close friend of a chapter member.  I usually get a chance to meet and talk to someone before adding them but it isn't formal or anything. A member from another chapter recently moved to town and discovered we have a playgroup. She asked three separate chapter members about our playgroup and they all told her to contact me. I was unavailable for a few days due to a move, no internet and exhausted and she repeatedly contacted those same members. One woman told me that this new member called her seven times within a few days. Another woman said she ran into the new member at a preschool and she was also very "aggressive" about joining. But they all shook it off thinking she is new to the area and has a bit of anxiety about getting her kid into a social group. It is understandable with relocating and having a young child so I also let it go.

Since she was a translant from another chapter and she really wanted to join us I added her to our Meetup group this week without actually having met her in person. To be fair, she did go to the last meeting late and I missed her because I had to leave early. So I let it slide. Boy, that was a big mistake.

Today I met her at a playgroup meeting at a member's house. She interrupted some of the lessons with personal questions of the mom leading the activities. She held up her smart phone and insisted someone help her figure out something right then and there.  What got me was that instead of talking to people she just questioned them endlessly. Everyone submitted and then disengaged from conversation somehow. Her kid was clinging to her terrified while she ignored her and asked everyone consistently where they live, where they used to live, what their spouses names were, how old their kids were and on and on. It was like she was collecting information or something. I heard her do it to some people and figured she was just nervous. I made time to talk directly with her and she laid into me like a debt collector. I tried to slow the conversation down and ask her about herself and she just replied with a vague answer and went back into interrogating me. I told her I was uncomfortable with so many questions and then she stepped even closer to me and asked another question. My heart raced and I was very intimidated by the gesture and denial of my request to cease the questions. I moved in to her to clear her from my space and said "Well, it was nice to meet you" and immediately walked away. 

As I sat in another room some other women saw that I was upset and I said that I just had a difficult interaction with this new member and needed to calm down. As I was regaining my composure I listened to other bad experiences these moms had just had with her as well. They were being very careful about not bad-mouthing but were trying to respectfully convey that this may not have been a good fit.

I was willing to give this woman the benefit of the doubt but when she wouldn't stop questioning me after I clearly expressed discomfort it had gone too far. She wasn't respecting a boundary I set about the kind of information I share on a first meeting. There was also a forceful physical gesture that she made during her last question that triggered an adrenaline rush. It was very odd and she seemed unstable and aggressive. I care about her as a human being and can understand a bit of her moving anxiety but she really freaked me out. I felt unsafe like if I didn't tell her what she wanted to know that she was going to get physical. So for that reason I'm not messing around with it and I'm simply removing her from the Meetup group. I plan to send her an email to let her know it isn't going to work out. I don't question her removal but I do question what to say.

I could use some help figuring out how to word her removal letter. She IS still a chapter member but I'm booting her from the playgroup. I also told our chapter leader what was up and heard a bit of a story about her behavior at our meeting. I get the hint she might be unstable so I didn't want to say why she is being removed but I want to make it clear that she is no longer in the playgroup. Here is what I have so far:

***
Dear (New Member)
Thank you for introducing yourself to the group today. Im writing to inform you that we will not able to maintain your enrollment in (playgroup). I realize you are actively pursuing schooling options for your daughter and hope you can find the right fit soon.
***

Any suggestions on wording are most appreciated. Thanks E-hell!

<3
Lovepickles

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Re: Kicking out a new playgroup mom
« Reply #1 on: August 30, 2012, 12:16:44 AM »
I think your wording is good, polite, but short & firm.

But...I doubt she'll leave without a fuss!

Good luck. Hopefully her daughter does indeed find someone nice, it's a shame she is missing out on this oppurtunity due to her mother.

BC12

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Re: Kicking out a new playgroup mom
« Reply #2 on: August 30, 2012, 02:22:00 AM »
Dear (New Member)
Thank you for introducing yourself to the group today. Im writing to inform you that we will not ____ able to maintain your enrollment in (playgroup). I realize you are actively pursuing schooling options for your daughter and hope you can find the right fit soon.

I think you're missing the word "be" in there. I put a space to show you where. Actually, I think that sentence would read better if it said, "I'm writing to inform you that we are not able to maintain your enrollment in (playgroup)." I don't know, seems more direct that way.

While you're at it, you might as well get your next response to her ready for when she inevitably replies, "Why can't my daughter and I come back?"

(To be honest, I'm a little curious about the reasons, too. I get that you felt threatened, she didn't actually threaten you. Simply stepping closer to someone is not typically a threat, unless she got her face inches away from yours or puffed her chest out or something. Other than that, she was just obnoxious and disruptive, which are things that can theoretically be handled by maybe speaking to her about them. It just seems a little harsh to me to not even try to accept a fellow mom (and her daughter) into the group. But I don't know the rules and dynamics of your meetings, so maybe it is entirely appropriate to give her the boot.)

sammycat

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Re: Kicking out a new playgroup mom
« Reply #3 on: August 30, 2012, 03:40:00 AM »
I get that you felt threatened, she didn't actually threaten you.

Just feeling threatened (or uncomfortable) would be more than enough for me. 

This woman sounds like she could be the catalyst for the group breaking up, as more and more people stopped attending the events just to avoid her.  She sounds like an absolute nightmare, and I'd be very grateful to the organiser of a group such as this for hopefully nipping it in the bud so quickly.

LifeOnPluto

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Re: Kicking out a new playgroup mom
« Reply #4 on: August 30, 2012, 06:51:44 AM »
Wow. Obviously I'm no expert, but it sounds like this woman might have some kind of social disorder? I feel sorry for her child.

That said, I agree with your decision to kick her out of the group and think your wording is fine. If she asks why you're kicking her out, I think you're ok to say something like "Many members and I found the constant questions you asked very off-putting; and were uncomfortable when you didn't stop questioning us after we asked you to desist."

Pippen

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Re: Kicking out a new playgroup mom
« Reply #5 on: August 30, 2012, 07:19:59 AM »
Wow. Obviously I'm no expert, but it sounds like this woman might have some kind of social disorder? I feel sorry for her child.

That said, I agree with your decision to kick her out of the group and think your wording is fine. If she asks why you're kicking her out, I think you're ok to say something like "Many members and I found the constant questions you asked very off-putting; and were uncomfortable when you didn't stop questioning us after we asked you to desist."

I would go further and say she is out and out nuts. If this was during 80's I would say she was a Stasi agent.

It's not a matter of kicking her out as she is not actually in, but making sure she is not invited to, or finds out about any further events.

JoyinVirginia

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Re: Kicking out a new playgroup mom
« Reply #6 on: August 30, 2012, 07:24:09 AM »
Whatever this persons problem, its not your groups responsibility to fix it. It sounds like the entire group was disrupted by the behavior. My only suggestion is that you be direct in your language.
Dear person, thank you for your interest in playgroup. You will not be able to join group at future meetings. I hope you will find appropriate preschool for child.
« Last Edit: August 30, 2012, 08:10:39 AM by JoyinVirginia »

laud_shy_girl

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Re: Kicking out a new playgroup mom
« Reply #7 on: August 30, 2012, 07:29:06 AM »
Wow. Obviously I'm no expert, but it sounds like this woman might have some kind of social disorder? I feel sorry for her child.

That said, I agree with your decision to kick her out of the group and think your wording is fine. If she asks why you're kicking her out, I think you're ok to say something like "Many members and I found the constant questions you asked very off-putting; and were uncomfortable when you didn't stop questioning us after we asked you to desist."

The danger with this is she can just say she will stop. Perhaps something more in line with "you are not a good fit for the group." leave it vague, so she has less to counter with.

Edit to Pod JoyinVirginia as she posted just as I did. Her message is succinct and polite but hopefully leaves no room for "buts"
For too long, we've assumed that there is a single template for human nature, which is why we diagnose most deviations as disorders. But the reality is that there are many different kinds of minds. And that's a very good thing. - Jonah Lehrer

LeveeWoman

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Re: Kicking out a new playgroup mom
« Reply #8 on: August 30, 2012, 07:46:54 AM »
I agree with JoyinVirginia and laud_shy_girl: don't give her an opportunity to object by giving her examples of why she's being kicked out. Don't JADE.

TootsNYC

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Re: Kicking out a new playgroup mom
« Reply #9 on: August 30, 2012, 08:01:24 AM »
I get that you felt threatened, she didn't actually threaten you.

Just feeling threatened (or uncomfortable) would be more than enough for me. 

This woman sounds like she could be the catalyst for the group breaking up, as more and more people stopped attending the events just to avoid her.  She sounds like an absolute nightmare, and I'd be very grateful to the organiser of a group such as this for hopefully nipping it in the bud so quickly.

I would too.

And I'd also stick with the "not a good fit."

I'd also probably contact each of the people that she reached you through and tell them what you're doing, and help them get a script. And encourage them to get off the phone as rapidly as possible and then block her number.

Because you know she is going to call them endlessly. Help them get ready for it.

Margo

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Re: Kicking out a new playgroup mom
« Reply #10 on: August 30, 2012, 08:24:05 AM »
Has she actually enrolled? if not then I would chenge the wording to say you won't be able to accept her enrollment.

Otherwise I think your wording is fine. I assume it will be signed by you "on behalf of Playgroup" so it is clear that this isn't a personal decison by you as an individual. I would also copy the letter to whoever is the chair/membership secretary of the local chapter and let er and those who this Mom contacted in the first instance know of the decison so that they are all aware that the decision has been made and won't be changed.

Horace

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Re: Kicking out a new playgroup mom
« Reply #11 on: August 30, 2012, 01:12:43 PM »
Am I the only person here who thinks that the new mum was nervous? And what's so wrong with her asking the parents in the group about their children - aren't they the kids her child will be playing with?  I never thought that asking polite questions upon meeting new people could be seen as "collecting information" to quote the OP. 

To be honest I wouldn't want to go to that playgroup if the people there are so judgmental towards a mum who's new to the area and nervous about meeting a bunch of new parents and kids.  If she tried to punch you in the face then that would be different, but I think she just freaked out a bit about being somewhere new.

alkira6

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Re: Kicking out a new playgroup mom
« Reply #12 on: August 30, 2012, 01:21:11 PM »
Am I the only person here who thinks that the new mum was nervous? And what's so wrong with her asking the parents in the group about their children - aren't they the kids her child will be playing with?  I never thought that asking polite questions upon meeting new people could be seen as "collecting information" to quote the OP. 

To be honest I wouldn't want to go to that playgroup if the people there are so judgmental towards a mum who's new to the area and nervous about meeting a bunch of new parents and kids.  If she tried to punch you in the face then that would be different, but I think she just freaked out a bit about being somewhere new.

Being nervous is one thing. Continuing a behavior that you have specifically and directly been asked to stop doing is another.  The closing in on the OP after being asked to stop and continuing to badger her with questions shows that this woman knew what she was doing was disturbing and that her behavior was intentional.

Ignoring her terrified child (who is the purpose of the group) in favor of the above behavior would put her very firmly in the "not gonna work" category with me.

Honeypickle

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Re: Kicking out a new playgroup mom
« Reply #13 on: August 30, 2012, 01:30:17 PM »
I agree with Horace - it seems a bit harsh to kick her out after only one meeting. Can't you give her another chance?

Tabby Uprising

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Re: Kicking out a new playgroup mom
« Reply #14 on: August 30, 2012, 01:36:53 PM »
Am I the only person here who thinks that the new mum was nervous? And what's so wrong with her asking the parents in the group about their children - aren't they the kids her child will be playing with?  I never thought that asking polite questions upon meeting new people could be seen as "collecting information" to quote the OP. 

To be honest I wouldn't want to go to that playgroup if the people there are so judgmental towards a mum who's new to the area and nervous about meeting a bunch of new parents and kids.  If she tried to punch you in the face then that would be different, but I think she just freaked out a bit about being somewhere new.

I think it's one thing to ask polite "getting to know you" questions in a gentle conversational way: "So Susan, is Luke your only child?" and systematically firing off a run-down of questions to each guest:

What's the name of your spouse?How long have you lived here? Where did you live before? How long did you live there? How many children do you have?  Boom boom boom. 

The OP used the term "debt collector" to describe the woman's behavior so I imagine a more brusque and forceful tone.  Not so much "asking" questions but "demanding" answers.

edited to remove emoticon. trying to cut back
« Last Edit: August 30, 2012, 01:42:58 PM by Tabby Uprising »