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Letting kids visit neighbors whose values are very different..

post #1 of 21
Thread Starter 

We recently moved to a much more neighborly neighborhood (say that 3 times fast) then our old one. Everyone here knows everyone and is mostly very friendly. There is some drama between some of the parents who don't like one little boy from down the street (supposedly he kissed a little girl, even if he did I don't see why its a big deal, pretty normal for 7 year ODs, just tell them not to do it again... anyway) and won't let him play with their kids. I have no problems with him and he plays here almost everyday. He is very sweet and plays well with kids younger than him with minimal guidance. 

 

His mom is pretty mainstream compared to us (she often yells at her son and uses a lot of threats, and rewards, we very much avoid that, and she offers my son lots of snacks I don't want him to eat) She keeps offering to have my son play at here house (since her son is here so much). I'm just not comfortable with that and I felt like I just didn't know what to say when she offered. For now I'm just saying he's too young to be over there (we only let a few people watch him who closely share our AP values or at least totally understand and respect them). But I'm sure within the next year he will WANT to go over there. My question is...

 

How do you handle your kids wanting to go to neighbors houses when you don't feel ok with them going?  

 

I feel like once he is old enough to fully understand what we think is ok and what is not and can voice it, it won't be as big of a deal. He can speak up if someone is hitting  or treating him in a way that we aren't ok with.

 

But those of you with experience can you share how you've worked this out? 

post #2 of 21
The snacks I could possibly force myself to get past, but the unkindness in dealing with the children (and this while you're around to witness it) is too worrying. I would stand your ground with playdates at your house, or only at her house while you're present. The way I handled these things when DD was younger was through self-deprecating humor, : "Thank you so much for offering. You're so sweet! The thing is, I'm that helicopter parent who just can't let him go to someone else's house just yet! I know, I know, but it's who I am!". Generally putting it out there in the front like that gets around all the guessing games on her end about what the hold-up is.

Good luck!
post #3 of 21

your son is 2? or almost 2? 

no way would i let my son out of my sight to go to a neighbor's house... and my son just turned 3. 

i have a daughter who is 6. i might let her go play at a few houses where i trust the parent. but that's only very recently. i would not do it when the child is so young. just too too many things can go wrong...

post #4 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by tropicana View Post

your son is 2? or almost 2? 

no way would i let my son out of my sight to go to a neighbor's house... and my son just turned 3. 

i have a daughter who is 6. i might let her go play at a few houses where i trust the parent. but that's only very recently. i would not do it when the child is so young. just too too many things can go wrong...

 

totally agree. Just say "no, I'm sorry, but he isn't old enough to go on a play date yet."

post #5 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by tropicana View Post

your son is 2? or almost 2? 

no way would i let my son out of my sight to go to a neighbor's house... and my son just turned 3. 

i have a daughter who is 6. i might let her go play at a few houses where i trust the parent. but that's only very recently. i would not do it when the child is so young. just too too many things can go wrong...

she is not talking about now. but at 3.

 

at 3 if they are still there and havent moved maybe you can go over with your son. "he is still a young 3. and he gets upset easily. i dont think its the norm that 3 year olds go over alone.' are their son 7 years old now. he will be 8 next year right? wonder if he still would be interested in playing with your son. 

post #6 of 21

No, i wouldnt let my three yr old go over to a neighbor's house without me, to play with their 8 yr old son. At five or six, maybe.

 

My boys are 4.5 and they are allowed to play out front without me, and they are allowed to go across the street to the mom and boys over there (usually there is a group of kids over at that house since the mom sits out front and watches them) and a couple of occasions i've let them go inside their house. I would not let them go inside anyone else's home, on our street typically the kids just play outside anyway. My daughter is 10, and there are a couple of houses she has played inside but mostly, again, everyone stays outside and within shouting distance of home.

 

I do find it a little sad that because this boy has been ostracized by the other parents, his only friend on the street is a toddler. I'm having a hard time picturing what a not-yet-2 yr old and a 7 yr old have in common or what kind of play they do on a regular basis. i mean, i dont want to box kids into same age boxes and say you can ONLY play with kids your age, but at the same time...not-yet-two is really young. If its just that the moms are getting together and happen to have kids, thats one thing...but having your toddler (even at age 3) go over there specifically to play with her child that will be 8? i dunno.

 

that being said, i would just cross that bridge when you come to it. Lots can change in a year.

post #7 of 21

No, my 2 or 3 (or 4 or 5) year old wouldn't be going over to a neighbor's house to play with their child who was 5 years older, especially if I was hesitant about the neighbor's values. "He's too young" is a perfectly good excuse for several more years at least. 

post #8 of 21
Thread Starter 

Correction her son is 6.5 and a YOUNG 6.5. The older kids in the neighborhood have all shunned him (because their parents don't like him). He plays very well with my son, and my 3.5 year old nephew. 

 

I think she saw how uncomfortable I was when she offered. It just happened that we were over there and I wanted to leave (I needed to finish something before dark) and Mark didn't so she offered to let him stay for a while and to walk him back home. I was taken of guard because I wouldn't think she would even offer to watch him that young (my son turns 2 in less than a week and in many ways, he is an older 2 already, talking full sentences, very independent and smart, plays well with other kids). 

 

The food to me is actually a big issue because my son has allergies and most people are not good at avoiding Dairy and Wheat till they do it for a while. My MIL still gives us things with hidden wheat with out realizing it. "Oh he can't have soy sauce?" 

 

Specifically she tried to give him one of those brightly colored push-up popsical things that's basically corn-syrup and artificial colors, and we don't do HFCS or Artificial colors so when M does get those things he acts CRAZY! That I handled a little better I gently explained that he already had a treat that day and that he didn't need any more sugar or he would be goofy all night, and she totally understood. I tried to explain his allergies to her and she had a lot of questions about the milk and can he have this and that, and what does he do for milk.... 

 

Shes a really nice lady and really only wants the best for her son, just her idea of that is different that mine. She loves to bribe with new toys and such and this kid has plies and plies of toys. She works at goodwill and she can bring used toys home practically for free... I'm hoping these two will be friends for a long time (neither of us is moving in the near future) I just need to slowly educate the mom on what we do at our house. Maybe when they come over for M's birthday they will get a small taste of it.... 

 

I just worry that M will beg me to go over there next summer (or the one after) and It will be a hard call. If not thier house it will be someone elses. I want to foster his independence (NOT be a helicopter parent) while protecting him till he can protect himself. This is a sturggle for me becuase I consider my self a free-range parent. :P  

post #9 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by sk8boarder15 View Post

I just worry that M will beg me to go over there next summer (or the one after) and It will be a hard call. If not thier house it will be someone elses. I want to foster his independence (NOT be a helicopter parent) while protecting him till he can protect himself. This is a sturggle for me becuase I consider my self a free-range parent. :P  

 

Next summer your DS will be 2-going-on-3. That's very young, and in my house a kid that young wouldn't be going off to neighbors' houses on his own whether he begged me to go or not. If he wants to spend time over there, I would just go along too. You don't have to hover over him while you're there, but it'd be a nice opportunity to get to know the mom better.

post #10 of 21

Unless it is special circumstances, my kids do not go over to friend's houses without me until age 4. My oldest child is old enough to "roam the neighborhood" alone but my almost 6 year old isn't. She begs and cries, but she needs to be older. That is just the way it is. It would be safe because we live very rurally, she is much more likely to meet a bear then an adult predator. I am quite relaxed in what I allow my children to do but preschoolers and playdates without mom, is more like the other person babysitting rather then a playdate. They just need so much invention from an adult. I don't hover but I am in the house for when they need someone. 

 

If a kid has some other things going on, special needs, dietary issues, etc... then it is perfectly understandable that mom would be joining child for quite some time. You just phase it in a way that puts the blame on you rather then her so that she doesn't feel that you don't trust her. "Oh Johnny here has some food issues, it is overwhelming enough for us to deal with! I certainly don't want to you to have to take it on. How about Johnny and I come over at 11?" 

post #11 of 21

I think there are several different issues here. You've titled the thread that it is just about values, but that's not really the case. Being dairy sensitive isn't a value. It is just. The appropriate age to go on a play date without mom really doesn't have anything to do with values. To me, a child under about 5 isn't so much on an unaccompanied play date, but being baby sat. It's really different to ask/let someone watch your small child because you need child care than to assume that kids are just playing together. It's different.

 

My kids are teens and allowed to visit who they want to regardless of parents' values. Last weekend I had a bunch of teens in my house at one point. One of the kids -- who is 17 and a senior in highschool, is both diary and gluten sensitive. I had prepared some food that I knew would work for him. But another kid brought an ice cream cake to share. The 17 year wanted a piece, so I gave it to him, knowing that it will most likely make him ill. But he is 17. He can make his own choices. I'm not his food police. This is a completely different deal for a small child, esp a child who is too young to even understand what he should and shouldn't eat. 

 

One option for you would be to send a snack -- enough for all the kids who will be there. That way you control the food.

 

Another question is "are you comfortable with this mom watching your child for short periods of time, like a baby sitter?"  There were times when my kids were small that I needed someone to watch them so I could do wild things like get a well woman check. She is your neighbor, your kids get along, and she is willing. Do you believe she would overall be kind to your son and he would be well looked after?

 

She sounds like a nice person. The fact that she is trying to work out what foods work well for your son is a really positive sign. Before snubbing her, I'd really think it through. Your child will meet all sorts of people in his life, and for the part, that will be enriching. Other people don't have to do things the exact same way you do for it be OK. None the less, its really your call if she is a safe person for him to be around.

post #12 of 21
I get the desire to be 'free range' but I think, like pp said, that under age 4 or 5 you are really asking someone to babysit your child. So I would apply the same standards you'd use to find a babysitter... which would likely mean DS would not go to this neighbor's house alone yet. I think this kind of situation would be much easier with siblings (i.e. you send your 6yo and 3yo together to play at the neighbors'). I think it is hard to free-range an only child who hasn't yet reached school age. Free-ranging a 2-year-old might mean letting him play in the yard for short spurts of time while you keep an ear out & frequently check in on him, not necessarily let him roam the neighborhood unsupervised.

Anyway, I think you're jumping ahead a bit and worrying about something that may not even be an issue in a year or two. But in the meantime, I'd just keep spending time with this family if you enjoy their company. Maybe as you get to know them better you will feel more comfortable (and it's fine if you don't!) Maybe this 6yo will move on to older kids but if he is still interested in hanging out with your DS in a year or two, he could be able to act as sibling might & kind of keep an eye out for him & protect him as he starts to venture out into the neighborhood.
post #13 of 21
This situation has a ton of red flags for me. It sounds like something similar that happened to me when I moved into a very kid-friendly townhouse complex. I have two sons who were 4 & 5 at the time and there was a mom who had a son who was 7. She was super nice and her son and my boys seemed to get along. As I met the other moms they would tell me that they wouldn't let their kids play with this boy because he was ill-behaved and I was like "really? I don't see that at all." To make a long story short, fast forward a few months later and THEN I saw it- and it was hard at that point because I had kind of become friends with the mom so it was really hard for me to say hey your kid is a terror! Of course I had to finally tell her I did not want my kids playing with her son and that was awkward to say the least and thankfully we've moved. Here's my honest opinion that is solely based on what I went through so I could be totally off base but here it is- there is no reason a 6 year old should be friends with a two year old (that's red flag number one that there's some sort of social issue the boy has). There's a reason the other moms don't want their kids to play with this boy (that's red flag #2- I guarantee you they would not shun a kid over ONE little kiss- there's other stuff). Be cautious with getting too close with the mom- I'm not saying be mean or anything, just don't have them over everyday- keep a little distance until you have a little more time to see what they are really like. Again, this is my totally jaded opinion but honestly I wish I had listened to the other moms and set up some boundaries in the beginning- I think things would have been a lot easier later.
post #14 of 21
Thread Starter 

Thanks for all the advice. Now that school has started he doesn't come over nearly as much becuase he's at school all day and he does a sport as well. 

 

I did invite the mom and son over thursday (along with a bunch of other people including other neighbors of all ages) for my son's birthday party. 

 

The boy does have friends his age too, they come over after school (one even came to our house one day) he's pretty bright and getting good grades and has friends at school and besides the kids of the parents on our street all the other kids play with him with no issues. So.... its not that he only plays with little kids, I think he just likes having a place outside his house to go. Sometimes he plays with my son, sometimes he just talks to me, sometimes he just asks if he can pick black berries in our yard. He also helps a nieghbor with thier chickens and goats and he often asks if he can help with my dogs. I usually don't let him becuase he has gotten rough with them in the past and we don't allow that with our dogs (He wants to wrestle and play tug-o-war with them, we don't do that becuase we worked a long to get them over thier possession and agression issues). 

 

I have no issues at all sending this kid home and telling him, no. One day he made a mess on our front window and my husband told him to clean it up and he did. He even apologized. 

 

So in short we are taking things slow and have firm boundries at our house. He doesn't know how to be around dogs so he cant be around the dogs without close supervision. When we are too busy to really watch him we tell him you can't play right now and send him home. Haven't seen him all weeked becuase we told him "Mark's grandparents are visiting and we will be very busy" and the one time he came by we sent him home. I'm hoping this will all work out for the best and I guess my biggest question is  When are kids old enough to go to a home with differant values than yours? 

 

And I know that will be differant for differant kids.... 

post #15 of 21

I'm going to just answer your question from the first post:

 

How do you handle your kids wanting to go to neighbors houses when you don't feel ok with them going?

 

I don't.

 

If my "gut" says no or I don't feel at peace with them going, I don't allow it.

post #16 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by phathui5 View Post

I'm going to just answer your question from the first post:

 

How do you handle your kids wanting to go to neighbors houses when you don't feel ok with them going?

 

I don't.

 

If my "gut" says no or I don't feel at peace with them going, I don't allow it.

 

 

Agreed. But what my gut felt OK with when my kids were 2 was really different than once they were school aged, and different again now that they are teens. At some point, not letting my child go to a friends house because I don't like the way the family eats or don't feel that they discipline the right way would just be controlling. But not at age 2.

 

Honestly, the older my kids got the less I had this information about their friends' parents anyway.

post #17 of 21
Your kid is 2 yo, that's way too young for playdates without parental supervision. Add to that the neighbor kid is MUCH older than your 2 year old and just makes playdates at his house not an option at this point. This isn't even broaching the subject of the differences in parenting style you have.
post #18 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by sk8boarder15 View PostHis mom is pretty mainstream compared to us (she often yells at her son and uses a lot of threats, and rewards, we very much avoid that, and she offers my son lots of snacks I don't want him to eat) She keeps offering to have my son play at here house (since her son is here so much). I'm just not comfortable with that and I felt like I just didn't know what to say when she offered. For now I'm just saying he's too young to be over there (we only let a few people watch him who closely share our AP values or at least totally understand and respect them).

 

I would continue to go with your ds until you get to know this family really well or do not feel the other parent will be basically babysitting your child. I don't think it matters if her child is also 2 years or is 7 years if you are not comfortable with her yet. If you wouldn't choose this parent right now to babysit your very young child then he shouldn't be over there without you.

I would say to wait to send your ds alone until he is 5 or 6 years old.

post #19 of 21

Oops.

post #20 of 21
Quote:
I'm hoping this will all work out for the best and I guess my biggest question is  When are kids old enough to go to a home with differant values than yours? 

 

 

It really depends on the "values" that are different (at least to me.)

 

The family is drunk all the time, selling drugs out of the house, and uses racist language? My kid is never going over there.

 

The family is very religious, prays before every meal, and their children dress very conservatively? eh...not our values but as long as my child knows to respect their relatively harmless practices while in their home, and as long as they arent trying to convert my kid, i'm ok with my kid going over if i otherwise like the people. (I'm talking about kids 4-5+ yrs old, i wouldnt send younger kids over to play without me, unless they were actually babysitting my child.)

 

I think this will vary for every parent, but when the time comes you can just think about what is very important to you. If your child has allergies or reacts very badly to certain foods, you've explained this to your neighbor but you know you cant trust her to feed appropriate foods to your child, they probably cant be there unsupervised. But if its just that you eat really healthy and organic etc etc and they dont, your child eating a snack every now and again (that might not be what YOU would feed but isnt "dangerous") isnt going to kill him.

 

Maybe your child doesnt watch tv....there is a difference in him being exposed to some kids shows you dont watch...and the family watching scary or R rated or totally inappropriate shows while your child is over there. There is a spectrum of "different values"...there are some homes on our street that just seem a little sketchy, or i dont really trust the parents...i dont quite know what their "values" are but i know im not comfortable with my kids going over there. Then there are other families that have different beliefs but we respect each other enough to kind of meet in middle ground when it comes to our kids. My daughter (starting around age 8, now 10) used to go spend nights and even weekends (and went on a long trip out of state as well) with a family that was conservative, christian, and had many different values as us. But it worked out. If i felt like she was bringing home and believing lots of what they believed i might have felt more uncomfortable but she didnt.

 

So i guess thats my longwinded way of saying pick your battles. What can you let go and what is a dealbreaker? What does your gut say?

 

Also....theres plenty to worry about in parenting, so trying to figure out what you'll do a year or three from now is borrowing headaches i think. So much can change in that amount of time its really not worth worrying about.

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