Thursday, April 24, 2008

I Am a Mean Mother

My son informed me recently the little boy across the street thinks I am a mean mother. You see, we have rules. He thinks obedience is completely optional and about 95% of the time chooses disobedience. This is a problem because as soon as the bus pulls up in the afternoon he and his sister find their way over until dinner and most nights are back after dinner. We have struggled with what to do. I do not need or want 2 more children to raise at this time, but feel bad about sending them home to play adult rated video games and watch completely inappropriate movies. I know I am not responsible for them, but I find it interesting that they desire to be with the "mean mother" instead having the run of their home. So, for now we let them play here (Our kids are never allowed over there.Thankfully our 6 year old knew to leave when the R rated movie was put in. We said no more at that point.)We say no occasionally to let them know we need family time. My children know there is a difference in our homes. They also know if we ever see the others behavior and attitude rubbing off on them, the friendship is over. The other children also know we do not take any of the inappropriate behavior. I just wonder, when do we say enough is enough and choose to protect our own and just cut off the friendship? I use the term protect lightly because we are very careful that they play in our presence at all times.Any thoughts?


Holly Jacobson said...


Oh, How I can empathize!!!

We went through this a few years ago. Word got out that I homeschooled, was home all the time, had nice, well-behaved children...and wah lah! I became the neighborhood babysitter!!! I would begin to cringe when I saw the kids coming down the street!

After an incident that required me sending a boy home due to his behavior ( and him lying about it to his mom, who then became upset with me); as well as a horrid lawsuit between two other neighbors over an accident that occurred while their children were playing unsupervised on the swing...we made a few rules that have made it much easier to keep manageable and less burdensome.

1. The parent must call me first to see if it is convenient for the child to come over at this time to play. NO "JUST SHOWING UP"! - even if my children are already playing in the yard.

2. A parent must come over with the child and stay for the enire duration of the playtime. This eliminates the "dumping the kids off" syndrome entirely. They have to be willing to participate in that as much as you are going to have to.

I can let my own children play by themselves in the backyard with the sliding glass door open so I can keep an eye while I do household chores. All children say and do foolish things...mine when others are there too, I want to be able to hear and see everything. This means that I don't get other things done. When a mom is willing to share that responsibility with me (and trust me, it's not terribly often), it is a pleasant break for me. We will sit on the back porch with a glass of iced tea within eyeshot and earshot of the children and visit.

Ultimately it is our own children that God holds us responsible for. The neighbors irresponsibility with their own children is sad; but it is difficult to take on additional responsibilities...especially on a daily basis...without compromising some of your responsibilities within the home, or some of the principles that you have set as a family for the protection of your children.

For me, this has taken the onus off of me for saying no...something I have a really hard time doing. When a parent takes you up on a playtime with these rules it is because they WANT their kids to play with yours...not because they are busy (as if your not) and can't be bothered with them. It has also given me a great opportunity to get to know other moms in the neighborhood.

One word of caution...if you were to implement is the CHRISTIAN parents who will give you the hardest time about these rules!


Julie said...

Thanks Holly. I think it is bothering me more now because summer is coming. I can imagine this being an all day, everyday thing. We will certainly be thinking about your advice. The lawsuit story makes me nervous. This little boy does not use good judgment and is in a cast or ACE bandage almost constantly.

Faye said...

I grew up with a "mean mother" too! Thank G-d for "mean parents"... I hope I am viewed that way too, one day (it's too early as my daughter is only 3 years old.) If I am, then I know I will be doing my job! Bravo for dicipline and moms like YOU!