social norms -- neighborhood kids - Mothering Forums

  • 1 Post By llwr
  • 1 Post By Catholic Mama
  • 1 Post By Letitia
  • 3 Post By IdentityCrisisMama
  • 1 Post By AAK
Thread Tools
#1 of 8 Old 07-14-2014, 09:23 PM - Thread Starter
llwr's Avatar
Join Date: Feb 2009
Posts: 380
Mentioned: 1 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 12 Post(s)
social norms -- neighborhood kids

The idea of neighborhood friends is really foreign to me. I didn't have them growing up and I am totally, completely introverted, so I feel insecure about what good boundaries about them are.

Our next-door neighbor's just turned 4yo grandchild and my 4 and 7yo want to play together all the time. How much do you talk to the other adults? How do you know who's supervising? How do you balance your kids' friendships with your own needs?

What seems to come up here, is that the other kids just come over and suddenly I feel responsible for caring for them, because someone surely should. The level of supervision they seem to get makes me uncomfortable letting my kids go over there, which comes up as well. I mean, I've met her mom once, literally 4 years ago; I just can't imagine being ok with letting my 4yo go alone to some strangers house unannounced and stay there for an unknown amount of time. Our other neighbor (they've moved) used to do this too, except she was 5 at the time. We do know the grandmother a little better, and she also seems to supervise more, but grandmas out of town this week and her mom is in charge. I'm a little confused about why they're even there. They don't live there, grandma just babysits all the time.

Anyway, the girls want to hang out all the time and go get things from each other's houses and want food and drinks and I'm never quite sure how to handle it. I do a lot of passive avoidance; it's not hard to say you can't go over there now. It's a lot harder when they see each other and just start playing. When it happens, if we don't have a pressing need, I usually let them play, try to stay outside, keep my kids out of their house, if you need to eat go home. But my tolerance is kind of low. It's not long before I start to be upset about being a free babysitter, and I do feel like I need to watch, because I don't know this other kid as well. I have a good feel for my kids in our environment, but not someone else's kid that by default I feel responsible for.

I'd love to hear how this works in your neighborhood.
pumabearclan likes this.
llwr is offline  
Sponsored Links
#2 of 8 Old 07-15-2014, 11:04 AM
Catholic Mama's Avatar
Join Date: Nov 2006
Posts: 1,078
Mentioned: 28 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 37 Post(s)
That sounds tough.

In the neighborhood we moved into in February, we have more cow and horse and dog neighbors than people neighbors. We're on 2.5 acres and we don't talk to our neighbors much, beyond working out mowing and first meeting them to introduce ourselves. We're on a corner; one neighbor is a snowbird and the other, let's just say I see their three horses a lot more than I see them.

In the neighborhood we were in for about two years before that, it was much more residential and our neighbors were much closer; we lived on something that resembled a block more. There was a girl about my oldest daughter's age and my daughter wanted to play with her a lot - she really wanted to play with other girls in the neighborhood but there were only two or three. This girl was right across the street but they had very different values from us, for example they watch TV all the time in every room and the adults smoke. We limited our daughter's time over there and the neighbor girl got to be kind of snotty (IMO), preferring to play with her friends from the neighborhood school rather than our daughter, which hurt our daughter's feelings. The other girl within walking distance was homeschooled like our daughter, but they seemed to keep to themselves besides going to their church and doing things related to their homeschool.

As for my sons, they had a couple of boys next door to play with, but again they had very different values: there were at least three generations living there (which I'm not complaining about) but no father, and the man who lived there who used to mow our lawn went to jail. My husband didn't want our sons playing with their boys even before that happened and their youngest boy threatened to damage our fence (actually our landlord's fence) a few times. Grr.

It would be ideal if you could talk to the next door neighbor girl's mother and talk about expectations. Also it could be good to talk to the grandmother and ask her if she doesn't mind if your daughter goes over there sometimes, and when you mind if her granddaughter comes over, make that clear assertively so that your needs can be met too. Yes, in my experience, whenever neighbor children came over to my house I considered it my duty to watch them and my children and how they interacted. (I even sent one home once when he had a tantrum in my backyard.) That doesn't mean they have to eat you out of house and home, but a cup of water on a hot day goes a long way and of course watch for their safety too.

I hope this helps a little.
pumabearclan likes this.

May God bless you and His Blessed Mother Mary keep you!  :-)

Catholic Mama is offline  
#3 of 8 Old 07-15-2014, 10:38 PM
Letitia's Avatar
Join Date: Aug 2009
Posts: 529
Mentioned: 1 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 55 Post(s)
I think relationships with neighborhood kids are an opportunity to learn a lot of good social skills. They might not be the people a child would normally pick to be friends, but because of proximity they get thrown together and have an opportunity to make the best of it. I think it's great practice for later in life when you don't necessarily get to pick your coworkers or classmates.

We have a few sets of neighborhood kids that ours play with. We know our next-door neighbors really well and there's just a general understanding the kids will run back and forth, but if they end up inside a house for more than just a drink of water or a pee, that parent usually calls the other to let them know where the kid is. The kids are all 6 and 7, and it's been like this for at least a couple years.

We know the down the street neighbors not as well, but enough to have a basic trust. When the kids started hanging out in the front yards together, we exchanged phone numbers. If our kids want to go in their house, they have to come back and tell us and they have to be clear that they were invited in. The other kids seem to have a similar arrangement. While we share a lot of values and house habits with the first family, not so much with the second (but we think they are good people) and there's a lot of screen time in both houses. As long as the kids are safe, I don't mind that they are seeing other choices. It gives us things to talk about, and we can explain why we do things the way we do in our house.

There are definitely other kids in the neighborhood who live down past the 2nd family, and we don't know their parents. If our kids wanted to go to their house, we would tell them we'd need to talk with whoever the adult is at the house. Get a phone number, and discuss boundaries for what they are going to do there (time limits, etc).

I don't know how many times I've sent kids home from our house. Usually it's because my own kids are misbehaving, or they're fighting and I don't have time to guide them through it, or it's just a bad time for us to have them around. I don't think it's a big deal.

I do think it helps to establish some kind of lines of communication with the other family right when the "visiting" starts. Don't know how to advise you in your situation, but maybe you could bring it up by saying something like, "Our kids are playing a lot together, I just wanted to make sure things are working out OK for you . . .
Being worried about the safety of our kids inside a house hasn't come up, but that would be tough. Bottom line, I wouldn't let them go somewhere I was worried they could get hurt, but I don't mind if they see things I don't personally approve of (within reason).
pumabearclan likes this.
Letitia is offline  
#4 of 8 Old 07-17-2014, 07:22 AM
Join Date: Nov 2012
Location: Mexico
Posts: 1,060
Mentioned: 10 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 156 Post(s)
If the kids were all older then I wouldn't be as concerned as long as they were playing in areas where you could keep an eye on them like a family room or mostly outdoors (rather than in bedrooms or in the garage). But I agree that at that age you are responsible for the kids when they are in your home-space, including your yard. Also they are not old enough to play for durations without needing snacks and drinks so that's your responsibility too. It's also just not your style to live so openly, as you have said you're more introverted.

I think you should do what you are comfortable with. As long as you are providing your kids with socializing experiences, you don't have to literally live with your neighbors if you don't want to.

I also think that kids should have the option to play alone or with other friends without having to just accept the company of the neighbor, even if they like them.

The problem, as you said, is that the kids will see each other. I don't know that you have options other than avoidance. You could take your children to the park more frequently or you can invest in a privacy fence. We have a privacy fence and it makes a world of difference in the freedom to select how and when we see our neighbors.

If the neighbor walks in to your house, keep the doors locked.

While talking to the other parents is probably a good idea, it may be more difficult to hold your boundaries once you have made an "understanding" with them - how can you then "justify" that you don't let her kid in your house, decline to give her food/meals, etc.

It sounds like this situation isn't something that you want to encourage, so don't try to make it easier for the kids to play together by trying to smooth it out, make it less usual.

I like to keep my neighbors "neighborly" and that means a polite distance. Nothing wrong with that at all. You live there too, so it has to work for you, it's your home.

Last edited by pumabearclan; 07-17-2014 at 08:14 AM.
pumabearclan is offline  
#5 of 8 Old 07-17-2014, 08:47 AM
jmarroq's Avatar
Join Date: Jul 2008
Posts: 325
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 13 Post(s)
If the kids are nice and they play well with your kids, then it's much better. It's even better if the family seems nice and normal too!

It can be so awkward when something happens though. I have had two separate incidents of children acting out sexually with my daughter when she was 3 and then 7. I had to talk to the parents! Then there are the injuries that inevitably occur. My daughter was bit by a neighbor's dog once and it got really awkward because we had to file a police report at the doctor's office in order to get treatment.

I don't watch over the kids the entire time when they are here, but if I am getting in the shower I tell them they have to leave. I have rarely had to tell a kid to leave due to behavior.

I don't know why I am so uncomfortable with the idea of my kids always playing at other kids houses. There is a family here who's kids are never home and they are perfectly fine with that! My parents were the same way...just come home for dinner! It was fun, but I did do things I shouldn't have, and I was lucky nothing really bad ever happened to me.
jmarroq is offline  
#6 of 8 Old 07-17-2014, 09:00 AM
IdentityCrisisMama's Avatar
Join Date: May 2003
Posts: 10,706
Mentioned: 6 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 128 Post(s)
IMO, the neighborly thing to do is to be clear of your own boundaries and to try to not judge another family if they happen to have different boundaries than you. Be clear, be firm, be nice, and communicate directly to neighbor kids or parents if they're around. Also be clear to your own kids.
AAK, meemee and pumabearclan like this.

Troll? Here's me...
To view links or images in signatures your post count must be 10 or greater. You currently have 0 posts.
IdentityCrisisMama is offline  
#7 of 8 Old 07-17-2014, 09:34 AM
Join Date: Nov 2012
Location: Mexico
Posts: 1,060
Mentioned: 10 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 156 Post(s)
Originally Posted by IdentityCrisisMama View Post
IMO, the neighborly thing to do is to be clear of your own boundaries and to try to not judge another family if they happen to have different boundaries than you. Be clear, be firm, be nice, and communicate directly to neighbor kids or parents if they're around.
While I agree wholeheartedly, my personal experience has been that if another family has different values the potential for conflict can be quite high. So while not judging the other family, recognizing this is valuable, I think. I learned the hard way after doing what I thought was the best thing, to communicate politely and directly.

Generally I've found that if someone thinks what they are doing is OK, they don't readily accept that it isn't OK with you. So it's possible that the other family won't understand and accept or will feel judged if the OP tells them she prefers this or that regarding the kids, even as nicely and politely as can be, and then there will be friction. It can be extremely difficult in neighborhoods because people will inevitably have different values.

Last edited by pumabearclan; 07-17-2014 at 10:20 AM.
pumabearclan is offline  
#8 of 8 Old 07-17-2014, 12:22 PM
AAK's Avatar
Join Date: Aug 2004
Location: Eastern Washington
Posts: 3,134
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 24 Post(s)
At four, it is tough. I know you are introverted, I am more of an introvert too, but if I were you, I think I would walk next door with my child and ask to visit for a bit while the kids play. You can get a feel about the set up of their home, and you can talk to the other adult about guidelines. A great neighborhood playmate can be such a blessing if it isn't just one-sided! Being straight up with the other adult can ease your fears (or confirm them).
Some possible things to bring up:
When is it too early/late to play
Do you prefer to send child home for meals (I do, usually)
Are their any allergies
Can the adult hear the children play even if she is in another room
Is there a pool? If so, I would get real specific about supervision.

By the time my kids were 6-7 they would bounce around the neighborhood and we frequently had kids to our house. This really happened in full force last year because the age of our neighbor kids happen to be right around my youngest's age. At my house, the kids didn't play inside if I didn't know the parents. My kids knew that the same went for them. Of course, they could come in for a drink or to use the restroom. They played in the back yard which I can monitor easily from most parts of my house. We don't have a pool. They also rode bikes up and down the street. They were welcome to pick from the garden or to ask for a frozen treat for snacks. During the summer, I made a point to visit the various families, get their phone numbers, etc. Everyone seems to be on the same page regarding sending kids home when you need to. Sometimes the knock on the door happens and my kid has to say they can't play until chores are finished, or until after lunch, or whatever. Rarely are meals given to neighbor kids--and when they are, a phone call is made first to see if it is ok.

Even at four we frequently had playdates. I would drop off my dd or someone would drop off their child. However, this was not nearly as spontaneous as our current neighborhood situation and lunch was often included.

pumabearclan likes this.

Mom to three very active girls Anna (15), Kayla (12), Maya (9).
AAK is offline  

User Tag List

Thread Tools
Show Printable Version Show Printable Version
Email this Page Email this Page

Posting Rules  
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are On
Pingbacks are On
Refbacks are Off

Online Users: 8,171

8 members and 8,163 guests
jamesmorrow , joandsarah77 , KangaRu , NaturallyKait , scaramouche131
Most users ever online was 449,755, 06-25-2014 at 12:21 PM.