Sorry ahead of time for the length.
I've been really struggling with how to ask this question. I'm concerned I'm going to come off judgey, and I'm totally not. The problem here is MY kids and MY family, and some general policy making as my kids get older. So, I'm looking for advice on how to handle things in my house, not to change someone else.
My kids are still little...7, 5, 3, 1, and a newborn. Maybe some of this gets better as they get older?
Okay, so, three scenerios:
The first. We're having a really hard time finding nice kids. For example, it's a pretty stressful event to take dd to soccer practice. Not so much the girls on her team...we've not had any issues there, but the younger siblings. Dh has to manage our 3 little ones, frequently carrying 2 of them, just to keep a couple little boys from being awful to them. It seems like anywhere we go, the little ones hurt my little ones, and I've yet to find a parent who stays beside their kid and prevents it. Dh and I just tag team whenever we go out so our little 2 don't get beat up. We have literally held our kids 3 and under for hours at a bbq to keep them safe. It is SO frustrating. I understand stuff happening, but not when stuff keeps happening. We do have a large family, and tend to hang out with larger families, and it just feels like the parents are too busy or something. Is this normal? do I just need to keep protecting my littles in the name of relationships? What about bigger kids physically forcing my kids to do stuff they don't want to? (Dh did talk to the dad on one occasion. Another time with a different kid from a different family, with an unapproachable mom, he talked to the girl directly, though it did no good. He wound up shadowing dd the whole night to intervene whenever the other girl grabbed her.) Since it happens to all of our kids, I've wondered if our kids are just pushovers or something. We have taught them to stand up for themselves, though. The time with the girl that dh had to be right with the whole evening (we're talking an 8yo!), dd (7y) was saying repeatedly, "No thank you. I don't want to." Etc. We finally told dd to say, "Stop right now or I will get my daddy!" and then if she didn't to just push her down or hit her or whatever she had to go to get away and run to daddy anytime it happened again, and to tell any grownup that intervened that her daddy told her to, and they would have to talk to him. I'm just not sure what to do when my child is standing, just standing, and another child walks over and out of the blue pushes them down on a weekly basis? Thoughts?
Second. What do you do when other peoples' kids tear up your house and your kids' toys? Again, I know kids ruin stuff, and it just happens. I don't mind that. But, there really isn't a reason for screws to be torn out of the wall, multiple books to be ripped, favorite things thrown across the room and broken, and buckles ripped out of dress up clothes. We have started putting everything but just a few toys away when we have people over, but as my kids get older, they would like to be able to share their things. I would like to teach them to be generous and open with their things, too! We work hard to provide our children with quality toys, and they work hard to take care of them. I'm hurt when they are disrespected. Do I just keep making them put their things away before their friends come over? (Or friends with younger sibs who are destructive?)
Third. How do you handle when your kids pick up stuff from other kids? Bad attitudes, or worse, like lying? I feel like we have enough to deal with without adding other people's stuff. The lying and sneakiness is really getting to me, though. Should I just expect that?
And then, what about things like horrible table manners? Or poor posture? Things that aren't character issues, but shouldn't continue. Sometimes I feel like I'm on my kids' case all the time, and just when it gets better, we see certain friends again, and I'm back to nagging them to chew with their mouths closed. I hate that I don't want to spend time with certain others because I don't want my kids picking up bad manners again. Am I just unreasonable? Should I just ignore the lip smacking and food playing in the name of relationship? (Both, the relationship with my kids that gets damaged when I'm constantly on them for something, and for the relationship with the other kids?) (Rereading this, I know the posture thing sounds petty, but it's actually a big deal. The particular person that is being copied has spinal issues from that same poor stance. My kids really need to not stand like that all the time.)
Do we just need new friends? Or maybe find smaller families?
I want to say again that the majority of our issues don't stem from parents who aren't parenting. In fact, we like most of the parents very much, and they are very involved with their children. This post isn't about making them change. It's about figuring out how to deal with the things that happen in mine when we are together. Yes, I did ask some questions about whether or not some of these relationships should continue, but which is which is fairly clear in my mind. As for those, I'm hoping to be told that I'm off base. That it's normal, and they will grow out of it.
Please, give me your thoughts. I really want to set my kids up from some great relationships, but these issues are really wearing on me. I just want them safe, respected, and to be encouraged to be better people, rather than picking up all sorts of bad stuff all the time. Mostly, I just want them safe, physically and emotionally. :(
Edited by Just1More - 6/1/12 at 1:37pm