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Neighbor boy's unfiltered insults hurting my family

post #1 of 14
Thread Starter 
This is going to need some background for context, so thanks in advance for reading!

We just moved into our neighborhood this summer. My own boys are six and eight years old. My 8yo is very social and would play with friends every day if he could. We homeschool. Thus creating even more of a need for him. We have always maintained playdates with good friends, but those are once or twice per week at most. We discovered one set of neighbor boys shortly after we moved in. They are 8 and 13. Seemingly nice kids and nice family. My kids go to their house, theirs come to ours...sometimes. Usually their kids don't want to walk over, so ours go there. I've talked with the mom, though we are not pals. She is very nice, safety conscious and all that. We live in an upper middle class suburb, where people definitely have more money than we do, but I don't feel like we stick out like a sore thumb! Our home is older, but just like the rest in the neighborhood. It is freshly painted on the outside, and I've painted many of the rooms since weve moved in. I mention this because of the interaction we had with the 8yo neighbor yesterday.

He hasn't been over very often, because I find him to be very loud and abrupt, he's just different. he thinks our unfinished basement is scary....I get that. I usually encourage the kids to play outside....but it's winter now. The boy was at our house for 45 minutes yesterday and theses were the things I heard.... "why don't you put some paint up on your basement walls?". "why are there dirty dishes on your counter?". "why don't you have anything to do here.". And the kicker..."my mom says you're poor....are you?". These were all asked of my kids, not to me directly.

We do live a simpler life, but my kids have plenty, we even have a wii smile.gif. My boys have always been so content and thankful for what they have, and I hate that this new influence has come blazing through our home. I asked my boys if it bothers them that the friend keeps picking out the worst things, and they said it does. To be honest, I think they only play with this friend because he's around. The 13yo brother is incredibly sweet and helpful to my boys, and it makes me wonder if the 8yo has mild special needs that I don't know about?!

And who tells their kid that their friends are poor? Ugh.

I know my boys will still want to play with him, because...he's there. I know that I am overly sensitive, it's my nature.....and I'm newly pregnant which doesn't help....it's also why there were dirty dishes on the counter smile.gif

My instinct is to keep my kids away from these people! But I know I can't shelter them, and I always tell my kids to treat others the way you want to be treated, not to seek revenge, but "love your enemy" and be a light in dark places. But I don't feel like acting that way right now!

I need some rational advice!
post #2 of 14

Is there a particular reason why your son is homeschooled? I hope I’m not sounding rude when I say this. It’s not legal in my country, so it’s a concept I have trouble grasping. It just sounds like being able to be around other kids and make other friends would help him a lot, and do so he doesn’t have to be with this kid. Anyway, it’s a difficult situation. From experience, it’s actually better to just stay away from people like this than confront them. It tends to cause more trouble than it’s worth. I tried to talk to a mother down the street whose son picked on my daughter a few times. Confronting her about it, instead of just stopping her son from being with my daughter, just ended up making her trash-talk me all over the neighborhood. Luckily, the rest of my neighbors are very kind and did not believe her. However, she is still a problem to me. I wish I would have left it alone.

post #3 of 14
Thread Starter 
Thanks for replying.....we choose to homeschool our kids just because we Feel it is a good option for our family. Our kids have social outlets like scouts and sports, but some are seasonal and right now is just a slow time , socially speaking. Neighbor friends are easily accessible and that is why they are so appealing to my boys! And if my son did go to school, he would be in this boy's class! We have a large variety of social options in our homeschool community, so I don't think that is the issue. It's the accessibility.

I'd like to just avoid them, but I wonder if we keep refusing the invitations to play if the mom might confront me about it.
post #4 of 14

My kids have had a few friends like that over the years. Some kids just have no filter. Some have grown up a bit sheltered, haven't been introduced to many families of different lifestyle or circumstances than their own, and can say things that are naive, if not offensive.

I've had kids remark on our home, our garage too full of stuff, our house small, my kid's room having either too many or not enough toys, our neighborhood not being as nice as theirs, and on and on. Some kids just say that stuff without thinking, and perhaps their parents have never told them it's rude, or they just haven't learned yet how to hold their tongue. It takes a lot of maturity to note a difference (especially one that seems to confer superiority on them) and not mention it - many 8 year olds will not be able to do it.

 

Heck, my older dd has a friend who still made naive/rude comments (about our house, my dd's school, etc) even as a freshman in high school. There were times I wanted to ban her from my house and I really had to keep my tongue between my teeth to keep from making a sharp comment in return. And I admit that the kids with no filter have not been my favorite kids to have around. But I also viewed it as a learning experience for my kids -- to give them an example of how not to act as a guest in someone's home.

 

If you or your kids don't enjoy having the other boy around,  it's perfectly okay for you to decide not to have him over. As a fellow homeschooler, though, I know nearby playmates can be tough to find. And occasionally some of those no-filter kids that annoyed the heck of out me have turned out to eventually be good, loyal friends to my kids. Maybe as he gets older, he'll get wiser.

 

If you do decide to put some space between your family and his, you might eventually have to talk to the mom about it. It would be natural for her to wonder why you didn't want the kids to play together anymore. If I were the mom I'd certainly want to know, but at the same time, I have no idea how you could explain tactfully.

post #5 of 14
Thread Starter 
Thanks, grethel. Your very rational words make a lot of sense. The more that I think about it I think the moms comment to her own kids about us being poor really hits my nerves. The fact is, that I don't know how she would think that or know it based on our interactions. I do know that she has investigated a few neighbors for backgrounds via her sister who is a prosecutor or something. I think that her words hurt the most. I really try to give my children a good life no matter what our circumstances. And they have never felt that they are lacking for anything. Being a homeschool family, one of the perks has been that they don't have to worry about the social aspect of measuring up and having the right brands to fit in.

So frustrated.
post #6 of 14
She may not have said you were poor. She may have said "some families have two parents working and then have more money to spend on xyz an some have one parent at home and choose not to buy xyz" or she may have told her son that he is lucky his parents have enough money to do certain things. She may have pointed out ideas about different income. Or may have said something like "not everyone can afford to have a finished basement"

An 8 year old is going to have a less nuanced understanding of class and finances and may have two categories rich and poor. So his words are not hers.




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post #7 of 14
I was coming to say exactly what the above poster did. You don't really know what the mom said.
post #8 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by tbone_kneegrabber View Post

She may not have said you were poor. She may have said "some families have two parents working and then have more money to spend on xyz an some have one parent at home and choose not to buy xyz" or she may have told her son that he is lucky his parents have enough money to do certain things. She may have pointed out ideas about different income. Or may have said something like "not everyone can afford to have a finished basement"

An 8 year old is going to have a less nuanced understanding of class and finances and may have two categories rich and poor. So his words are not hers.




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I was gonna say this as well. :-)
post #9 of 14

Yup. I was going to say the same thing. The son may have been saying negative things about your home and she may have hinted that perhaps you can't afford to fix it up right now because you just moved in...etc...or not everyone can have a perfect home all the time due to work, finances, etc.

 

The fact that he said it so rudely with no filter is suspect. I agree that he may have special needs, or if not, he may have a bad influence around that taught him this kind of quick assumption of poverty, etc. Could be the mom, could be someone else. 

 

Some of the kids in my neighborhood are very critical of my kids (especially my son). There is one boy in particular who I get a bad vibe from. My poor son thought it was his "best friend" for a while, but the kid seemed like he thought he was better than us, and would always put our house down, etc. I met this boy's mom a couple of times and she seemed really unfriendly...so there's my first clue. However, this doesn't seem to be the rule of thumb for all mean kids, because I have met some really nice parents who have mean kids.

post #10 of 14

This post makes me feel stressed out because that boy is my son.  Not literally.  He is 8 and doesn't have a filter.  We have wondered if maybe he has high functioning asperger's but we don't know.  With age he is getting better with social interaction.  He is now reading social cues better so that is a relief.  I do work with him to help him understand what is appropriate to say and what isn't.  He would say all of those things but in a naive way.  Not a mean way.  I don't allow him to other people's houses without me.  Thankfully I am friends with his friends parents so I can be his filter when needed and discuss afterward.  My son is a very sweet boy and would never hurt someone intentionally but he does not have a filter.  I am sorry that your boys are hurt by his words.  Maybe you could point out to him that that isn't very nice to say?  That is what I would talk to my son about.  We have 6 children under 10 and our 8yo is the one we watch.  

post #11 of 14
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by homeschoolingmama View Post

This post makes me feel stressed out because that boy is my son.  Not literally.  He is 8 and doesn't have a filter.  We have wondered if maybe he has high functioning asperger's but we don't know.  With age he is getting better with social interaction.  He is now reading social cues better so that is a relief.  I do work with him to help him understand what is appropriate to say and what isn't.  He would say all of those things but in a naive way.  Not a mean way.  I don't allow him to other people's houses without me.  Thankfully I am friends with his friends parents so I can be his filter when needed and discuss afterward.  My son is a very sweet boy and would never hurt someone intentionally but he does not have a filter.  I am sorry that your boys are hurt by his words.  Maybe you could point out to him that that isn't very nice to say?  That is what I would talk to my son about.  We have 6 children under 10 and our 8yo is the one we watch.  


Thanks for your perspective. The reason I even mentioned special needs is that I would definitely have an extra measure of grace for this child if there was a reason besides just being rude.

I appreciate everyone's thoughts on this. After some time to calm down and think about it, I've realized that what I've been most afraid of is that my kids will somehow be forever changed by this little invader's attitude! But I will just have to use this as a teaching moment. My kids know what poor is, and they know that we are utterly blessed relatively speaking. If anyone thinks that we are poor living as we do in middle America then they are the ones who need to adjust their thinking! I will try to assume the best of the mom and not make an issue of it.
post #12 of 14

I knew a LOT of kids like this when I was growing up!  It was around age 8 that they started to filter what they said directly a bit more, but they would still make comments to me that were offensive because of the tone rather than the words ("Your mother wears such...interesting clothes.") or phrased as questions ("Why do you have such an old bike?"), and they talked about me behind my back a lot.  I grew up in a company town where almost everybody on my side of town was white middle-class mainstream, and because most families were there for the dad's job and opportunities for moms were limited, most families had SAHMs whose main activities were shopping, housekeeping, and gossip.  My family was presumed poor or incompetent or "weird" because we didn't have all new stuff from Sears and our house wasn't always cleaned and decorated like a hotel.

 

OTOH, I'd bet there was at least one mother of my peers who felt judged when I came to their house for the first time and said, "Where are all your books??" or when her kid came home from my house reporting that we had a computer--an oddity at the time and very expensive!--or when her kid complained that at MY house we were allowed to do fun stuff like building blanket forts that we could use for days without getting in trouble for messing up the living room.

 

My point is that I don't think this kind of judgmental-sounding comment from a child is all that unusual.  I hope that the culture of your new neighborhood isn't all like this, but at least for that family, I'd bet that they are accustomed to a certain level of neatness and affluence to enough of an extent that the boy notices any deviations from that norm and hasn't yet learned that it's rude to remark on them.  It may or may not be the case that his mother makes catty, gossiping comments in his presence about the housekeeping and affluence of others--I agree with the posters above who pointed out that he may have asked HER why you don't have stuff and gotten a nonjudgmental response which merely suggested the possibility of less money--but if she does, then of course he thinks that type of comment is normal, and hasn't yet learned that we don't say that 'til we get home!

 

Being new in the neighborhood and being newly pregnant (congratulations!) both are increasing your tendency to take these comments personally, I think.  Using it as a teaching moment for your boys--about what's truly "poor", and about what we do and don't say when we are guests--is the best response.

post #13 of 14
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by EnviroBecca View Post

I knew a LOT of kids like this when I was growing up!  It was around age 8 that they started to filter what they said directly a bit more, but they would still make comments to me that were offensive because of the tone rather than the words ("Your mother wears such...interesting clothes.") or phrased as questions ("Why do you have such an old bike?"), and they talked about me behind my back a lot.  I grew up in a company town where almost everybody on my side of town was white middle-class mainstream, and because most families were there for the dad's job and opportunities for moms were limited, most families had SAHMs whose main activities were shopping, housekeeping, and gossip.  My family was presumed poor or incompetent or "weird" because we didn't have all new stuff from Sears and our house wasn't always cleaned and decorated like a hotel.

OTOH, I'd bet there was at least one mother of my peers who felt judged when I came to their house for the first time and said, "Where are all your books??" or when her kid came home from my house reporting that we had a computer--an oddity at the time and very expensive!--or when her kid complained that at MY house we were allowed to do fun stuff like building blanket forts that we could use for days without getting in trouble for messing up the living room.

My point is that I don't think this kind of judgmental-sounding comment from a child is all that unusual.  I hope that the culture of your new neighborhood isn't all like this, but at least for that family, I'd bet that they are accustomed to a certain level of neatness and affluence to enough of an extent that the boy notices any deviations from that norm and hasn't yet learned that it's rude to remark on them.  It may or may not be the case that his mother makes catty, gossiping comments in his presence about the housekeeping and affluence of others--I agree with the posters above who pointed out that he may have asked HER why you don't have stuff and gotten a nonjudgmental response which merely suggested the possibility of less money--but if she does, then of course he thinks that type of comment is normal, and hasn't yet learned that we don't say that 'til we get home!

Being new in the neighborhood and being newly pregnant (congratulations!) both are increasing your tendency to take these comments personally, I think.  Using it as a teaching moment for your boys--about what's truly "poor", and about what we do and don't say when we are guests--is the best response.


Love this. every word. Thank you
post #14 of 14
Agree with PPs. You don't really know what the momsaid. Also, I would venture to say that few 8 yo have a filter. also, he might ask things notin a judgmental way, but because he is genuinely curious why your basement is not painted and your dishes are not done. I would step in and answer his questions.
As for the "poor" comment, I would very gently tell him that it's not nice to call people poor. It takes a village.I
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