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friends/ Parents with different values. HELP!

post #1 of 16
Thread Starter 

I could use a bit of perspective.

 

I and my family are good friends with a progressive crunchy Christian family. Let's call my Christian friend "Karen."

 

I have a 7 year old girl and she has 3 children, the oldest of which is a 6 year old boy. Our kid are friends.

 

A bit of background:

 

My girl is in public school, and our parenting style is "balance and moderation in everything." We attend a Unity church but do not identify as Christians. Tv is only allowed on weekends at our house and we don't have cable. I was sexually abused by my father at the exact age my daughter is currently. It was a long road to getting mentally healthy and working through that but, I did. I would say that I vehemently defend my girl's right to a normal, healthy childhood and that includes a normal healthy sexuality.

 

Karen doesn't have a television, is VERY strict about what her kids eat (I am mildly strict, but a bit of junk food once a week is fine by us.) and is very strict about kids showing any sexuality or curiosity. (A year ago, she found our kids playing doctor while were having tea downstairs and freaked out giving her kid a MAJOR guilt trip. She herself was homeschooled by a strict Christian family until 4th grade and she now considers herself a kind of progressive Christian. (And I guess compared to her upbringing, she is!)

 

THE ISSUE:

Recently, we started a babysitting co-op at her urging. She doesn't get a lot of support from her husband who works 6 days a week at his own business and she admitted she was going nuts. Soooo, I offer to watch her kids for a day (all 3 of them for 4 hours and then the oldest 2 for another 4 hours to give her a break.

 

They played great together all day. A few days later, she says, "Do you know what the kids did while you were watching them?"

 

I had no idea what she was referring to and expressed that.

 

"Well, they were kissing and I am not ok with that AT ALL. I think you should talk to your daughter about it."

 

I questioned her about the details and she told me exactly where they were when they kissed (outside under a tree) and how many times (twice and the second time"they held it") which struck me as a bit creepy that she extracted these details from her son whom I KNOW would not be forthcoming with them.

 

I said, "Karen, I didn't see that and it couldn't have taken them long, but honestly, I don't have a problem with it. I think it's natural. My girl is innocent and that kind of curiosity is innocent. I don't believe in making her feel guilty for it."

 

She said,  "Well, I don't think kissing is appropriate until he's an adult."

 

I replied, "What?! You think he shouldn't have his first kiss until he's 18?! Get real! I was kissing boys at this age. As long as certain boundaries are there (not being alone and undressed in their bedroom) and it's mutual, I say it's natural. I don't want to feel like every time I watch your kids you are afraid that my girl will molest your son. She's an innocent child. What part of this do feel isn't innocent? If you have a problem with it, I think YOU should talk to her about it without making her feel guilty."

 

She said she would, but so far she hasn't.

 

Has anyone experienced being friends with other parents who you feel are repressive and have much narrower rules? How did you handle it?


Edited by JessJoy - 11/19/12 at 5:09pm
post #2 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by JessJoy View Post

nt? If you have a problem with it, I think YOU should talk to her about it without making her feel guilty."

She said she would, but so far she hasn't.

Am I reading this correctly? You suggested that Karen discuss the problem with your 7yo? I definitely would *not* be ok with that. I think it is almost always best if the child's own parents be the ones who talk to them and, in this case, I would be worried about what Karen would say since you obviously have completely different views on the issue.

Other than that I'd probably just not repeat the babysitting offer and just let the kids play together when you're both there to look after your own kids.
post #3 of 16
Thread Starter 

THanks Katelove.

 

You gotta understand, I love Karen and I trust her to say the right thing to my girl. I honestly can't see myself sending a message to my daughter that "kissing is ok, but not with your one friend because his mommy doesn't like it..." THat sounds confusing AND guilt inducing. I need my girl to understand that KAREN is the one with the issue. NOT me, and not her. After Karen talks to my daughter, I'm sure my daughter will ask me what the big deal is with Karen. I want to be able to mirror her own confidence in her sexuality by saying, "My dear, I think it's ok, but Karen doesn't want that for her son and we have to respect that."

 

Make any sense?
 

post #4 of 16
Thread Starter 

Also, rather than "not watching her kids anymore" I think we need to work this out and address it. THis is a close friend, not an acquaintance.

post #5 of 16
I think it's OK to explain to your DD that different families have different rules, and in this boy's family, kissing is not allowed. She may have more questions, and you can answer them privately one-on-one with her, reinforcing your own views but continuing to respect theirs. Everyone has different physical boundaries and sometimes parents hold additional boundaries for their kids for their own comfort or moral views. I don't think there's anything wrong with that.

If you don't make a big issue out of it, it's not really any different than saying something like, "No PG movies when your friends are over, they are only allowed to watch G movies," or "Their family rule is that everyone has to ask before going to play outside, so make sure you ask when you're over there." You are not condoning their views by asking your DD to respect their family rules & boundaries.
post #6 of 16
Thread Starter 

i like that. thanks!
 

post #7 of 16
I think it is fine to talk to kids about kissing being something we do only on th cheek or only with family until we are old enough to date. I think it is good to not make a big deal about exploration but it is also good to teach boundaries around touching in sexual ways.
post #8 of 16

We have separate rules with various friends. Kids get that and don't really find it confusing. Almost like Mary has blond hair but when Sam comes over, we do x. DD1 has a good friend whose family is conservation christian, which we are in no way similar. I have to admit that has the girls have gotten older, the relationship has gotten more and more difficult. They are almost 11 and 10 now. They have all sorts of food rules, new rules, music rules, TV rules, rules about clothing, rules about what of play they can do. I have 4 kids and at that age, I am not policing them every 5 seconds, even if I didn't have 4 kids I wouldn't be checking up on a 10 year old constantly. So now that family is at the bottom of our "play list", I only allow DD1 to call her when we have no one else to play with. shy.gif They are best friends in school so they see each 5 days a week.

 

 

Otherwise I have to watch every single action every one in my house is doing. Is that music I hear? Who turned it on? Because X can't listen to to the Top 40. Oh you turned it to NPR instead? Still not good because X's mom doesn't want her to hear any news casts that might come on. You want a snack? Well, no. X can't eat 2 hours before dinner and even if she could eat, she couldn't eat 90% of what is in my fridge this moment. You what to play dress up? Nope. can't. Our dress up clothes are old dance recital costumes and Xs mom finds them indecent. I have to run to the store so we'll have to take X home because X's mom won't allow her to go to the store with us because she doesn't want her to exposed to all the junk food out there. You want to invite x to your B-Day party this year? Nope can't because it is too close to X-Mas that for them, that takes the focus away from the holiday. You want your best boy bud to come over too? Nope, because he is a boy and X's mom will flip.

 

 

I don't say all those things of course, I phase it differently but that is the gist of every single time at our house. If you are 2 then fine, I have to watch the friend at all times, not at almost 11. It is utterly exhausting on my part. The girls tend to play over at X's house because it is a more safe, contained environment for her. We have a lot of conversations different family values and why we do things the way we do and why others do them differently. X's mom and I are friendly, I wouldn't say good friends because frankly the woman terrifies me, but we've come to an understanding over the last 4 years about the girl's friendship. I am curious how it will play out when middle school starts next year and DD1 becomes even more "worldly" then X. 

post #9 of 16
Quote:

Otherwise I have to watch every single action every one in my house is doing. Is that music I hear? Who turned it on? Because X can't listen to to the Top 40. Oh you turned it to NPR instead? Still not good because X's mom doesn't want her to hear any news casts that might come on. You want a snack? Well, no. X can't eat 2 hours before dinner and even if she could eat, she couldn't eat 90% of what is in my fridge this moment. You what to play dress up? Nope. can't. Our dress up clothes are old dance recital costumes and Xs mom finds them indecent. I have to run to the store so we'll have to take X home because X's mom won't allow her to go to the store with us because she doesn't want her to exposed to all the junk food out there. You want to invite x to your B-Day party this year? Nope can't because it is too close to X-Mas that for them, that takes the focus away from the holiday. You want your best boy bud to come over too? Nope, because he is a boy and X's mom will flip.

 

good for you to try to continue the friendship even occasioanlly, because that is some weird controlling craziness! Wow! I don't think I could apply all those rules for a playdate, or even remeber half of them, there are so many!

post #10 of 16
Thread Starter 

Woah Peony! All of the self/family censoring. That is exactly what I'm talking about! It's not quite that bad due to the kid's ages, but it is heading down that road! Let us know how middle school goes!
 

post #11 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by crunchy_mommy View Post

I think it's OK to explain to your DD that different families have different rules, and in this boy's family, kissing is not allowed. She may have more questions, and you can answer them privately one-on-one with her, reinforcing your own views but continuing to respect theirs. Everyone has different physical boundaries and sometimes parents hold additional boundaries for their kids for their own comfort or moral views. I don't think there's anything wrong with that.
If you don't make a big issue out of it, it's not really any different than saying something like, "No PG movies when your friends are over, they are only allowed to watch G movies," or "Their family rule is that everyone has to ask before going to play outside, so make sure you ask when you're over there." You are not condoning their views by asking your DD to respect their family rules & boundaries.

Agreed!

 

I find this akin to telling my 3 year old about public vs private.  Like how it's okay to pick your nose at home, or be naked, etc.  Or how it's okay to talk to some people about poop, but some people don't want to talk about that.  I think the kissing topic is a great teaching moment for respect and tolerance for other people's values.

post #12 of 16
We've had to deal with this too with a mom who was really worried about her children's (ages 7 and 9) exposure to my son, who is 13. She was worried about him being inappropriate and their being exposed to things that were "too mature", especially her 7 YO son. So at first I tried to live with her rules about what the kids could and couldn't do and her insistence that my son and her son not play together. But over about a year it became too much for me so now the girls play together a lot less. I really liked the mom and was so looking forward to having a mom friend just up the street but about the 10th time I tried to explain to my son that it wasn't that X didn't like him but that she was afraid because he was so much older than her son I just couldn't do it any more. So now the girls still play occasionally but the families have stopped doing things together and I have made it clear that I won't enforce her rules in my house. It's sad in a way, but has made my life easier. Sometimes the family dynamics just don't work out.

That said, I think its a really good idea to start teaching kids that different families have different rules and expectations as early as possible. It's an important skill to navigate a wide variety of social situations, so you have a great opportunity here to do that.
post #13 of 16
Hmm my "rule" these days is that if people drop their kids off here, other than food allergies/beliefs, I don't change TV/toy/music/whatever rules. If you feel that it's a big deal, this isn't a good place for a playdate. I am not going to drive myself crazy remembering everyone's rules. We can meet at the park or something. That covers everything but the kissing I think. I've bit my tongue and rolled my eyes at stuff my kids ate or watched at other people's houses, and they can do the same for my house I guess. I'm just thankful if someone is willing to host a child of mine. (Obviously I draw the line at illegal stuff like showing my kids pornography.)

As far as the kissing goes though, I'd just say, "X isn't allowed to kiss anyone so don't kiss him anymore." But we'd eat what we usually eat and listen to whatever music we usually listen to.
post #14 of 16
I'm with mamazee... And I am STRICT. No junk food, no TV (with a few exceptions, but not during playdates), etc. But I draw the line at enforcing other people's rules in my house regarding what I consider normal every day stuff, and I don't expect DS's friends' families to turn off the TV while he's there or otherwise jump through hoops to enforce every rule I have for my family. My house, my rules. Your house, your rules. If I have a major issue with your rules, my kid won't be there.
post #15 of 16

It sounds like the sexual exploration makes her uncomfortable. If you're able to provide more supervision when her kids are over, then it would be less of an issue. If you feel like you can't watch them constantly, then the two of you may need to talk again about how to handle it.

post #16 of 16

My parents weren't controlling in most of the ways you mention, but I wasn't allowed to listen to anything but Gospel and Classical music, watch anything above rated G, wear clothes that possibly revealed that I was female, ... And I was very lucky that my best friend's parents were not like that, and at their house I did all the "sinful" stuff that normal kids got to do. I learned how to be a normal teenager through her family. I am so grateful there are people who see the harm in isolation and seclusion! I don't believe in conforming to the crowd, but a child can be harmed by being forced to be totally different from everyone else. I had no idea who Queen, or Prince, or Madonna, or Michael Jackson was in the 80's and stuff like that literally made me an outcast by my peers.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Peony View Post

 

Otherwise I have to watch every single action every one in my house is doing. Is that music I hear? Who turned it on? Because X can't listen to to the Top 40. Oh you turned it to NPR instead? Still not good because X's mom doesn't want her to hear any news casts that might come on. You want a snack? Well, no. X can't eat 2 hours before dinner and even if she could eat, she couldn't eat 90% of what is in my fridge this moment. You what to play dress up? Nope. can't. Our dress up clothes are old dance recital costumes and Xs mom finds them indecent. I have to run to the store so we'll have to take X home because X's mom won't allow her to go to the store with us because she doesn't want her to exposed to all the junk food out there. You want to invite x to your B-Day party this year? Nope can't because it is too close to X-Mas that for them, that takes the focus away from the holiday. You want your best boy bud to come over too? Nope, because he is a boy and X's mom will flip.

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