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Need advice on managing difficult new neighbors  

post #1 of 99
Thread Starter 

I am at my wit's end with a neighborhood situation.  Have time to read a book?  We live on a street that has a lot of young families on it.  Over the past 2-3 years the number of kids has increased expodentially and it's wonderful for our kids (ages in sig).  They each have good friends of their same age and gender.  Until the new family (described below) moved in, it was often our practice to let our kids (ages 4&7 at the time) play relatively unsupervised outside.  Maybe I'd go in and cook something, fold a little laundy.  Another mom would be outside.  It was EASY and wonderful.  Enter new family.  They have 2 boys, ages 6&8.  Similar to my kids' ages.  At least one of them is adopted (I can tell by his race).  I mention it as I don't know their background, or when the kids were adopted, but both have behavioral issues.  Every single day that these kids spot any other kids on the street, they zip right down to play with them.  They live on the other end of the street, and if my kids so much as get on a scooter and these kids are home, they are in our driveway in minutes.  The older child is clearly learning delayed to some extent, but sweet. Both kids have their sweet sides, which to me makes this whole situation more difficult.  They are not monsters!   He's not athletic at all, which presents a problem because most of the kids on the street are, and want to play sports together.  This angers and frustrates him.  Both kids are prone to anger fits where they have, on occasion, hit their mother, thrown and kicked their bikes.  They've yelled swear words in front of our kids that our just never use.  Our kids don't like them.  But it's a free world and we don't own the street!  Their mother, a quiet woman who just never makes any small talk and rarely and ineffectively disciplines them, lost it with me yesterday.  It came out as anger but I immediately saw the pain behind it.  She asked me what was it going to take for the other kids to stop excluding her son (meaning the older one).  Apparantly they'd chosen teams and left him out. (I had been inside a neighbor's house at the time and not seen what happened). Believe me, I know the kids don't like him and I have had talks with my son about not leaving him out, or saying mean things to him.  I told her this, and said I believed the solution was a 2 fold plan.  I said that it was a problem that they came down every single day because they were not allowing kids on the street who have pre-existing relationships any time to play by themselves and that's hard on them.  She responded that if they see a gang of kids playing outside, they want to join in.  I "get" that.  I really do.  I said the other component of the solution lay in maybe doing a one on one playdate between her child and some of the boys. I offered to do it with my son, because her son hasn't had a chance to get to know anyone when he's not "party crashing".  She started crying and I was not sure how much further we were going to get with her this emotional.  We wrapped things up.  I feel I was really sympathetic given that she was criticizing me and my kids.  To round back to something I mentioned at the beginning, I now have to be outside with my kids every minute that they play outside to mediate fights, make sure they are not saying anything mean, or getting chased by these kids etc.  I hate it!  We were going in a great, free range direction with outdoor play and this new family has ruined that.

When I got home, I was a little frustrated.  Here I am offering to host a child my son really does not like, one on one, to mollify his mom?  When what we'd really like is for her to take the lead and maybe protect her kids a bit by NOT allowing them to come every single day to play with a group of kids who are not thrilled to be around them.  Believe me, I get that this is a teachable moment for my kids about getting along with everyone.  But as it turns out, my son's best friends live on our street and right now the only way he can play with them without the new people coming along is to play inside.  And our house is not big enough to accomodate that on a sunny day.

I hope I am not coming off as exclusionary.  I know that they bought their house because when they visited from out of state, the kids saw all the neighborhood kids playing and wouldn't let their parents consider any other house (I think that's odd in and of itself, but whatever).  So it's almost like they view playing with the neighborhood kids as an amenity of the street to which they are entitled.  I have been inside with my kids and they will come play in the driveway and a parent will just stand in my driveway watching them.  I do not like it.

Does anyone have ANY thoughts or experience???

post #2 of 99

     Saw this post and have to share my experience. My grandmother's street is EXACTLY like yours. Full of kids. Full of responsible parents who all work together to keep an eye out on any neighbourhood children. Over the years there have been many different kinds of families. I've seen/ met children who would do exactly what you are describing, and parents who were really hard to take. I do have to say that eventually, if the neighbourhood is close enough to each other, and no one makes a big deal out of anything, annoying neighbours seem to move away or become much better.

      IMO it sounds like the new kids are being kids, although possibly kids who are new to having a gaggle of other kids to play with. I don't think it's weird that they chose your area when they saw all these children playing happily together, wouldn't that be every child's first choice? If they are not monsters and all that's happening are arguments, maybe you should continue your free range choice and allow your children to work it out with them. I think staying neutral about it is the best thing. When your children complain about the other kids being around all the time, give them the opportunity to figure out the social issue. As long as there is no bullying or dangerous activities going on, I think it's not your place or their mother's to intervene. Over time it will sort itself out. Annoying is annoying, but I would still be grateful that none of the neighbours are real bad apples who worry you.

post #3 of 99
Thread Starter 

Thank you familycastle.  That offers me a lot of hope.  I do just want things to work out and I can't see any "solution" that I could have a hand in.  But maybe time will do the trick.

post #4 of 99

 

Quote:

Originally Posted by sunflower.mama View Post

 

They have 2 boys, ages 6&8.  Similar to my kids' ages.  At least one of them is adopted (I can tell by his race).  I mention it as I don't know their background, or when the kids were adopted, but both have behavioral issues. 


I was poking around the forums and while I feel there is much in your post that is problematic (problem being from your end, not the new kids' behavior), I wanted to tell you how incredibly offensive I find this part of your post.  You're perpetuating the mythology that adopted kids are "damaged goods" who are some how fundamentally damaged in way that those who live with their parents of origin are not.

 

The fact that they may be adopted (or may not be; how do you know how and when and with whom the children--even the boy who you claim you can "tell," by virtue of his race--were conceived?  Were you there?) is completely irrelevant to your "neighborhood situation" lament.  It sounds like you're upset b/c your days of easy free-ranging it have come to a bit of a snag, and instead of helping your kids develop empathy for kids who are new and who are having a tough time fitting in (whether because of "behavioral issues" or not), you want to help your kids continue to exclude them. 

 

(Also, unrelated to my adoptee aggravation, you might want to reconsider your claim that the mother "rarely and ineffectively disciplines them" given that the kids have, according to you, "behavioral issues.")

 

post #5 of 99

Honestly, you may want to seriously reexamine what you are saying here with a fresh eye. It sounds like your child, and the rest of the neighborhood children, are bullying these new children. And THAT is something that you need to deal with swiftly and seriously.

 

And.... what does the child's race have to do with his or her potential adoptee status?

post #6 of 99

I live on a very similar kind of street - lots of kids, they all run around together, parents popping in here and there to check in, but for the most part, they are unsupervised (my oldest kids are 5 and almost 7). There are occasional clashes with other parents and kids on the block because, although most of us are on the same page, there are some parents who parent very differently and that can cause problems when issues come up between the kids. I think it's a blessing and a curse - great that my kids have friends available around the clock with no formal playdates needed, great that I have a couple of very good friends on the block (other moms) and we support each other and enjoy each others company. But bad because I can't socialize with these other moms who I am very close to without inevitably another parent coming over who I don't care for very much and joining in, bad because sometimes my kids want to play with one kid and they have five running around with them. Very social, but very little privacy. Our yards are very public places (the houses are close together, no one has fences, we have an alley in the back so there are no driveways, just endless yards). So, my point is that there are good and bad things and I've come to try and take the good with the bad. We could move to a true suburb with 1.5 acres and fence in our yard and let our kids choose when and with whom to play and I could choose when I want to socialize and when I just want to stand in my yard, drinking a cup of coffee without chatting with a neighbor. But we'd miss out on all the good stuff too.

 

And in your situation, the new family is just a snag in the neighborhood dynamic - the perfect balance that you liked before wasn't going to last forever even if no one new moved in. Kids change, their relationships change, etc. Personally, I'd talk to my own kids about being nice and including the new kids (because, really, it only takes a few weeks for the "new" kid to be part of the gang). Old, established friendships aren't exactly set in stone in childhood - your kids should have plenty of room for new ones. It does sound sad for the new kids - so excited to find a bunch of kids and now no one wants to play with them. 

post #7 of 99

As you said, it's a free world and you don't own the street.  I think there's a lot to be said for kids learning to get along with others, even those who may be socially awkward and less athletic.  They're not going to get more athletic or less awkward by sitting in their living room alone.  It's also not really a solution for the other kids to put up with these a couple days a week in return for their mom keeping them shut up in their own house the rest of the time.  And once they've been in the neighborhood for a while, playing with everyone, the new boys will be part of the pack of kids with pre-existing relationships, unless they've been excluded for most of that time and consequently still don't know everyone.  

 

I'm a little sensitive about your post, because my family just moved from an urban area where our girls couldn't play outside to a suburb where kids play in the neighborhood.  They are SO EXCITED to be able to just walk out the door and find other kids to play with, and like the boys you describe, they don't have the best social skills yet.  In our old neighborhood, all their play time was arranged and coordinated by adults.  They are working on figuring out when to go home, and why it's not actually cool to stand in your driveway and holler down the street to see if someone else has finished her homework yet.  My older dd just learned to ride a bike at age 10 (no place to ride in the old neighborhood), so she could bike with the neighborhood kids, and she still struggles to keep up.  

 

Fortunately for us, the neighbors have been really kind and welcoming.  I'm talking to my kids about social skills and manners.  I've chatted with other parents, and they understand.  The kids sometimes argue, but I suspect their parents have talked to them about social skills too, because they've been really friendly and there's been some great give and take - they've made up some cool games together.  

 

Gently, it sounds like the neighborhood pack of kids has reached the age at which it seems cool to exercise power by being exclusive and telling others they can't play.  This can go a lot better than it has been going if you intervene with your kids, and have another (more conciliatory) chat with the other mom in which you talk about encouraging kids to be inclusive.  

post #8 of 99

Maybe, you need to take a step back from the situation.  We live on a street similar to yours with lots of kids.  One of the main reasons we bought the house is because there were lots of kids playing outside.  From my point of view, it indicated it was a safe area, there were other families, and most likely other people with similar lifestyles (we also looked at the neighbors' political signs, bumper stickers, and made sure there wasn't a HOA).

 

Things happens between the kids on our street.  New kids move in, old friends move away, older kids hit puberty and stop playing with the 'kids', and the little kids become part of the group. The group is not static. Most of the time, the parents stay out of petty things, but we all keep an eye to make sure there is no bullying and all the kids are included.  Yes, the kids play individually, but everyone is included in the pick up games, swim parties, and neighborhood birthday parties.

 

My youngest son is the loud one who talks too much, sucks at games, and barges into the middle of things.  You might see behavioral problems; I see a super sweet kid with ADHD who tries every day to be a good friend and respect boundaries.  Luckily, most of the kids in our neighborhood accept him, even though he is home schooled, spouts off odd facts of black holes, and is always tagging along.  But, in our neighborhood, the parents expect inclusion of kids who are adopted, of different races, or are 'different'.  For example, my kids have been taught not to pick teams, but to count off by every other kid.

 

My kids are multiracial and not adopted,  What does race or adoption have to do with behavior?

post #9 of 99
I have to say, I totally agree with the PP who said that your post is doing a good job of perpetuating the idea that adopted kids are "damaged goods."

IMO you are helping to teach your children to be cliquish. So what that your kids and the kids who lived in the neighborhood first had preexisting relationships? When you moved into that neighborhood did you not realize that other people would likely move in too? And that they might be from a different race, have behavioral problems, be adopted, or have learning disabilities?

You say that these kids "zip right down and play" with the other kids. Do your children stay inside and wait patiently to give others a chance to say high and THEN go out? Why should these new kids? If this was an adult situation and there was a new guy at work would you expect him to eat his lunch at his desk to give you and your colleagues who had "preexisting relationships" time and space to talk? Of course not. Because that is cliquish and rude behavior. If the children on the street who have become close friends over the years want to spend one on one time together, they can go in the house or you can arrange a playdate with their mother.

If your kids cant take an active role in helping to include children of a different race and that have learning disabilities, then IMO they shouldn't be playing outside unsupervised. It sounds to me like you are saying that you had your perfect little neighborhood until the adopted kids moved in and ruined it for you.

Growing up with a little brother who had both physical and mental disabilities, I can tell you form personal experience that this hurts the kids and their mother more than you can ever imagine.
post #10 of 99
This thread makes me so sad for that new mom and her kids. She was crying?greensad.gif
post #11 of 99
Quote:
Originally Posted by sunflower.mama View Post

 Every single day that these kids spot any other kids on the street, they zip right down to play with them.  They live on the other end of the street, and if my kids so much as get on a scooter and these kids are home, they are in our driveway in minutes. 


and this is a problem because

 

-they are of a different race

-they are adopted

-they are not athletic

-they are angry and frustrated about being excluded for all of the above.

 

y'all are not exactly sounding real welcoming of the new neighbors. the fact that the mom got emotional before you thought to suggest a "getting to know each other playdate", speaks volumes. let the old boys continue as they are, the new ones will probably move away soon given the unwelcome vibes.

 

seriously, the cussing and hitting are the only concerning behaviors and i would address that straight away if they are exhibited in front of my kids.

 

post #12 of 99

If my kids are playing outside and some other kids want to join, I DO expect my kids to play with them too.  Excluding kids is MEAN.  Yes, you should have to play inside if you don't want other kids to join you right now but you best not leave out other kids all the time.

 

And for the record?  You most certainly can NOT tell if a kid is adopted based on their race.  Not that that even matters anyway... why even bring up a kid's possible adoption status and race?  Although it makes it easy to see where your kids learned how to be exclusionary bullies to new kids.  and yes, that IS how you come across.

Sorry your world isn't perfect anymore.. but REALLY?

post #13 of 99

Setting boundaries about hitting and swearing is cool.  The rest of your post reeks of cliquey exclusion.  Do you know how difficult life is for kids who are different?  Probably not.  I'm guessing you have never cried tears of joy because your kid was invited to birthday party.  Or had your heart fill with joy because a neighbor kid knocked on the door and asked "Can Joey come out and play?"

 

I would die for the girl who lives next door because she was my son's first friend.  She was the first kid to knock on the door.  She made the other kids play with him.  Now, he hits the front door the minute the school bus pulls up, scooter in hand to play with his friends.  My son got into a fist fight with two boys three years older defending her and another kid over racial slurs.  I'm proud that he makes friends with kids who are younger, older, of a different race, and have disabilities.  

 

The mom cried.  Send her to my house, we will drink some wine, the kids can play, and I'll wipe her tears because I have been there. 

post #14 of 99

As an adoptee I can not let this go by.... I hope you will come back and read these replies and rethink yourself....

This entire post is a SHAME.  A bold SHAME.

Thank you mama PP who could say these things more eloquently than I.

How awful. How completely awful.

 

 

post #15 of 99

Obviously, when your family moved in, there were other children who already were friends and at least some of them were friendly and inclusive with your kids.  Over the last 2-3 years, there were many other new kids in the neighborhood, you said, and it seems that THEY were welcomed just fine...

 

If I was in your position, I'd probably do a few things:

 

tell my kids that activities that are outside and include the neighborhood "gang" are open to everyone.

 

If they are having a one-on-one playdate/activity with a friend outside and don't want ANY other kids to join them (not just the "difficult" ones, but it would have to be anyone) than I'd give them some kind language for that: "Sammy and I are in the middle of a game that we were planning to play after school.  Can you come back to play in an hour?" or "We really want to finish the game we already started... I'll come and knock for you right after dinner, ok?"

 

Its not OK to pick teams and leave someone out.  My kid(s) wouldn't be allowed to play outside alone with this group unless I was sure they wouldn't actively or passively allow others to be bullied, excluded etc.

 

I think a pp made a great point that these "neighborhood friend" gangs (or whatever) are usually very fluid.  Possibly you haven't seen this yet b/c the kids sound like a pretty homogeneous, young group.  But pretty soon girls won't want to play with the boys they used to see every day, a kid's "best friend" will move away and they'll have to find a new BFF, etc.  It could JUST as easily be one of your kids that is suddenly on the "outs" for any of the little reasons that kids have... maybe they are the only one on a different soccer team one year, go to a different school, etc.  If that was the case (and it will someday happen to all of our kids no matter how athletic, friendly, popular etc. they seem as 6 year olds) wouldn't you wish that someone, who had no reason to do so except that it was teh right thing to do, would insist that others treat YOUR child with compassion?

 

I would make rules about hitting and cursing... hopefully rules that all the moms would stick to.  Maybe just a general consensus that kids who act that way will have to go home?

post #16 of 99

Oh, I just reread the OP and had to add....

 

"party crashing"  that was a pretty loaded thing to say to the other mom.  No wonder she started crying after you said it.  Party crashers see a fun time and want to join, but weren't invited and aren't wanted.  OUCH.

post #17 of 99

I think this is an excellent opportunity to teach your kids how to be kind and inclusive.  Our last house had a street like that my rule with my kids was that if you are playing out front, you need to find a way to include everyone who wants to play, or looks like they want to play.  Anything else in that situation is exclusionary and unkind, regardless of the pre-existing relationships. If other kids were excluding, my kids left the play because they understood the reasons behind the rules. If my kids wanted one on one time with a friend, that is in-house, head to the park, or backyard play time. Yes some times this means work on your part to help the kids navigate the situation successfully/kindly but there really isn't any more important parenting work for you to do.  Perhaps you can help by gently teaching these new kids the neighbourhood "rules", and by helping them integrate into the group of kids, by suggestion games, ensuring fair play etc.

 

I think your idea of some one on one playdates is a great one. Maybe you could invite the family over for an afternoon to get to know them better and to help all the kids get to know one another in a supportive environment. I'd be careful about thinking of this as doing the other family a favour though.  You and your family have as much to gain as they do and you will set the tone that your kids will follow for future interactions with this family and others. 

post #18 of 99
Quote:
Originally Posted by eclipse View Post

This thread makes me so sad for that new mom and her kids. She was crying?greensad.gif


Dude, I know right!  Like I'm sitting here just thinking of the conversations this mom is having with her kids about why they are being excluded.  You just know these kids are going home crying and trying to figure out what they did wrong and how they can fit it.

 

OP, score a little sensitivity.  If these kids are that disruptive to your "utopia", then send your kids and their clique friends into your backyard.

 

But quite frankly, I think the new kids are better off not being around a group of kids and adults that are giving them the cold shoulder.

 

 


Edited by Lucy Alden - 10/13/11 at 8:09pm
post #19 of 99

I understand where you're coming from and I understand the frustration that comes with a couple kids always hanging around and not giving your kids time to play outside alone or with other children. I agree with others that these kids being adopted doesn't really have anything to do with the situation but I read it as you were trying to be understanding about why the kids might not be immediately fitting in with the kids that already live there.

 

I don't think it's wrong of you to want your kids to be able to have a say in who they hang out with. It's important to encourage kids to include others but forcing them, IMO, isn't the answer. Something that struck me in your post was when you said that you don't own the street then went on to talk about how there are kids coming over to your driveway and yard uninvited over and over. You don't own the street and you can't control what goes on there but you do own your driveway and your yard and I think it's perfectly acceptable to ask kids who have overstayed their welcome to head home. I wouldn't do it every time they come by but it's ok to go out and tell them that it's family time if it's just your kids there or that it's so and so's turn to play here and they will be welcome back tomorrow or whenever. 

 

We live in a military neighborhood where there are lots of school age kids. My kids play outside for extended periods several times a week, daily in the summer. There are other kids who come and go, they play in our yard, their yard, or at the very nearby playground. All was well until a new family moved in. The kids are nice and all but they have little supervision and few boundaries. They barge right into our house and walk into the kids rooms to see if they're home. They take strollers and toddler sized toys out of our garage to play with, not caring when they break these things. They bring junk food that we don't allow in our house over and leave the garbage from their snacks in our yard for us to clean up. Once they even left crayons strewn all over the lawn where they melted in the sun. They're dad works two weeks on, two weeks off and when he's gone they're left by their mom alone in their house and to play outside while she goes out (the kids are 5 and 7). We invited them to a birthday party and even though the invitation said that parents needed to stay with their kids their mom sent them over unsupervised, they made messes I had to clean up and opened gifts that didn't belong to them then it took me 45 minutes to get them to leave, I had to take their hands and lead them to the door then lock it behind them. They bang on the kids windows after bedtime. The girl wears very short skirts without shorts or anything to cover up under them, shirts with suggestive phrases, and makeup. You get the idea.

 

Starting the day they moved in they started coming over every single time my kids were out. They couldn't be outside more than a few minutes without the unwelcome neighbor kids coming over and staying until my kids came inside. It got to where my kids didn't want to go play anymore because they knew they could only play with those neighbors since the rest of the neighborhood kids didn't want to be around the new kids. It was making us miserable and it had to stop. I went over and talked to their parents (who outrank DH so it was really awkward), they weren't happy about it but said they would talk to their kids about staying when they're welcome and leaving when asked. It's still not perfect but the kids are getting better, we still have to keep our garage closed so they don't ruin things and I still often have to go out to tell the neighbor kids that they need to head home and will not be able to come back in our yard until the next day. The other kids in the neighborhood know this and our yard has become a gathering place for them because they know the new neighbor kids will be asked to leave if they're getting on everyone's nerves. 

 

If I were in your shoes I would talk to the mom again and explain that her kids will be welcome to play with your kids and you will encourage the other kids to include them but emphasize that they will not always be welcome and the kids might want time to play without them. Tell her that the first step would be for her to encourage her kids to not go out and rush down the street at the first glimpse of another kid. The mom becoming so upset when talking about her kids being excluded leads me to think that it's not the first time it's happened and that your kids/the kids who live on your street aren't the only ones who are less than excited to always include the new kids in their play. Remind the mom that you don't want her kids to always be excluded but that the rest of the kids need time to play without them and get used to having new kids in the group. Maybe suggest that she comes outside with them, she's the best one to remind them not to chase or be mean to other kids. If she were outside you could go back inside to get things done while your kids play. Hopefully she'll understand and take a more active roll.

post #20 of 99
Quote:
Originally Posted by elus0814 View Post
The kids are nice and all but they have little supervision and few boundaries. They barge right into our house and walk into the kids rooms to see if they're home. They take strollers and toddler sized toys out of our garage to play with, not caring when they break these things. They bring junk food that we don't allow in our house over and leave the garbage from their snacks in our yard for us to clean up. Once they even left crayons strewn all over the lawn where they melted in the sun. They're dad works two weeks on, two weeks off and when he's gone they're left by their mom alone in their house and to play outside while she goes out (the kids are 5 and 7). We invited them to a birthday party and even though the invitation said that parents needed to stay with their kids their mom sent them over unsupervised, they made messes I had to clean up and opened gifts that didn't belong to them then it took me 45 minutes to get them to leave, I had to take their hands and lead them to the door then lock it behind them. They bang on the kids windows after bedtime. The girl wears very short skirts without shorts or anything to cover up under them, shirts with suggestive phrases, and makeup. You get the idea.

 


the OP's situation does not sound anything like what you have experienced. in fact, per OP

 

Quote:
Both kids have their sweet sides, which to me makes this whole situation more difficult.  They are not monsters!

so, some sensitivity, understanding and cooperation can go a long way.

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