Here's the backstory:
My ds, 7, used to be best friends with the boy who lives across the street. But, they seem to have had a falling out about a year or more ago. I asked my son what happened, but he doesn't know. The boy just seemed to taper off coming over to play, and wouldn't stop his computer games or television to play with ds, and when he did he was very negative in their games, saying things like "No, you're doing it wrong" and "no, that's not what happens next" to whatever ds suggested in their imgainative games. Since then, his mom needed us to take care of him & his sister after school, when she was training for a new job, after a long period of unemployment, since she's divorced and her ex was unable to help out. We had them over at our house for 3 to 5 hours a day, 3 or 4 days a week, for a few months. Then, when the mom's training period was over, she suddenly decided that her kids would be fine alone after school, and they went home to their house. I tried to keep an eye on them as much as possible, and she got a roommate, a young man who was there some of the time to help watch them. I invited them over, but they both preferred to stay home with their screens, since computer time is monitored and limited here, and we have no TV. So, I just chalked it up to differing personalities, and encourage ds to invite other friends over.
Where we are today:
Almost every time ds has a friend over, this neigbor boy comes over to join the fun. Some are friends of his, also, and some are not. He might come over for a few minutes to show off a new toy, once a week or less, unless my ds has a friend over, then he's here for the whole time. Tonight he stayed for dinner, and then until bedtime. My ds does not seem to mind, but I am feeling used by the boy. Ds usually takes the neigbor's side in games, rather than his newer friends. I try to encourge them to play games without sides, but even in legos, or whatever they're playing, but it always comes to them play battling. Or else, the neighbor will join sides with the guest, leaving out ds. This child is a very quiet boy, around adults; very much the rule follower, especially compared to his older sister's misbehavior at home and at school. I can't talk to his mom about it, really, because she is upset with me for questioning her when she left the kids alone at home for a couple of hours during the night. When I asked her about the falling out that the boys had last year, she just laughed it off with a "kids will be kids, I have no idea why he acts like he does or what he is thinking" and dropped it.
So, what do I do: just let things play out, or talk with the neighbor mom about it, or talk with the boy? I really don't want to point out to ds that his friend seems to be using him, as ds seems oblivious to it so far.
Thanks for any wisdom you can offer.
This is a tough one. Maybe you should just talk to your DS about it. DD1 had a friend kind of like that, for awhile she would only come over to ride DD's bike and it was way obvious to us but not to DD1. I finally pointed it out to her and she was pretty upset. I don't know if it was the right thing or not but I was annoyed by it and thought she should be too.
7 is close to the time that kids start to figure things out. Maybe you're more upset about their mom and their life choices.
my advice. leave this alone. dont do or say anything. honestly this is not between you and the boy.
its between your son and this boy. you are right on about being used, but mama let your son discover this. dont spoonfeed him the answer.
friendship is going to wax and wane and in a sense what the mama said is right. i have seen my 9 year old go thru this very thing since she was 7.
i absolutely have never got between my dd and friends (we've never had a bad bout where i had to help out except with one child and only at my dd's request). i have watched my dd being used and i have kept quiet and let dd discover it on her own.
in a way his mom IS right. kids will be kids. and the thing with kids is that they are not adults. so they may be completely different persons at 6 and 7 and 8 and 9.
unless the boy is blatantly being mean or unsafe (perhaps that's what it might take for your son to notice) i would leave it alone.
we had a neighbor just like that. she'd wait for dd to come home and then she'd go home when dd would go to bed. i too felt she was using dd but it was dd's friend. i let her see it. after a while dd started seeing thru the neighbor girl (by then we'd had many sleepovers) and finally had enough. she had me send her away a couple of times and then built up her courage to not make excuses but tell her directly that she does not want to play with neigh. girl. she was 7 1/2 when she did this.
I think that if you talk to anyone, you talk to your DS about it. But I wouldn't TELL him what to think. I'd be more apt to make some of my observations about what is going on verbal, and see what he thinks about it.
I wish my parents would have pointed out a particular friend to me when I was younger. I am one of those people who tends to think the best of others, and this girl wasn't really a good friend to me at all, but I didn't realize it. I think I would have learned more about what a REAL friend was a lot earlier (and been more discerning in my friend choices) if I had someone point out to me that I deserved to be treated with respect.
When you son has a friend over and this kid shows up, say, "Johnny, ds is playing with his friend today. You can come over tomorrow to play with him, if you want. Goodbye!" And send him home.
I'd set some boundaries, and teach my child to do the same.
I think my first boundary would be that he couldn't come over when my DC had another child over. I'd say something like, "DS and child X set up this play time for just them. You are welcome to come over tomorrow."
I'd also set some boundaries on how long he can stay. I found the phrase, "it's time for you to go home now" oddly effective. Most kids are so used to adults telling them when it is time for different things that they don't need much explanation to go along with it.
I would make it clear that he is still welcome in my home, but set some parameters. By doing so, you'll teach your son that it's OK to tell people no, which is very valuable life skill.
but everything has pros and cons
I agree with the previous two posters.
I would tell DS when he has a friend over for a playdate that he should be playing with them. If the neighborhood boy wants to come over *when DS does not already have a playdate* that would be fine. You might find that he actually *does* start coming over on his own.
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