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Neighbor kids in these modern times


MegaSwan100
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Hello all, I am new here but joined because I have an issue floating around in my mind that I would love to see from different angles.  My husband and I have two kids, a seven year-old son and a four year-old daughter.  We are homeschooling both and loving it.  We recently moved out of state to fulfill our dream of owning a house and just completed the purchase a few months ago.  We are now in an older housing track with lots of trees and children.  Before we moved here, we lived in apartment complexes with few children around so we got resourceful about finding home-school meet-ups and classes.  I believe I got a little soft, as the kids with whom my kids played with were pretty sociable, not only with other children but with adults.  

Here in the new neighborhood two boys, each from different houses on our street, came together to invite my son to play with them.  They are ten and my son is seven.  At first they only played outside, which is what I have often heard is a good limit for neighbor-kid-playtime.  But as the sweltering heat set in this summer, I allowed them into our house and then with great hesitation allowed my son to go to their houses as well.  I have met both sets of parents.  While they seem pretty normal, I am still not comfortable with it.  Perhaps it is because we aren't as normal and are not striving to be.  We don't own a television, but keep up on the news through the newspaper.  We are pretty socially active this year, with two outside classes and a park-day group keeping us out in the mornings three days a week.  But there is so much to the mainstream mindset that is so corrosive to the family and everything that we are striving for that I just cringe when I think of my tender impressionable son going over to the homes of these families that do not seem concerned or careful about the same things that we are.  Am I being overprotective?  If not, is it reasonable to say "outside play only"?  In this state the temperature either seems to either get to 100 or it rains or sleets, but hopefully they would adapt.  

The two boys are reasonably pleasant kids, but my judgement is unreliable at best and subject to rapid fluctuations.  I have doubts that they are being taught any sort of traditional manners at home, as they initially came here and walked through both our bedroom and my daughter's room without any hesitation before I could shoo them out.  One of them, A, interacts vibrantly with adults except when he is told "no", and I often hear him screaming or being screamed at and he is usually grounded or glued to his video games so we don't see much of him. 

The other one, B, interacts rather nicely with my son; he has an overall gentleness about him with both younger children and animals that is nice to see.  It is this boy that my son sees a lot of; lately they play nearly every day.  I do have a few concerns though and I welcome your thoughts about them.  This boy comes over to play but has trouble making eye contact or even speaking to me or my husband.  We share meals with him and he never says thank you or acknowledges us in any way if he doesn't have to, and when he does he seems irritated about it.  It is such a contrast from the other friends our children have made.  We are currently trying to give him a break for these reasons: 1) he comes all alone without a parent in tow to prod, "now what do we say?" as friends of younger ages usually come with and 2) we know from conversations with his parents that he went through the foster care system before they adopted him and may have some attachment/socialization issues.  Any thoughts on how to handle this though?  Should we just welcome him, be willing to set boundaries such as "no playing in other people's bedrooms" and that sort of thing, and not expect any acknowledgement?  How do we love our neighbor here?

Also, along with this boy coming over here, there is the expectation that my son should be able to play at his house too.  One or both parents are usually home but they are usually engrossed in some home improvement project, which seems fine, but the boy keeps urging my son to play video games or watch youtube on his tablet in his room.  I do not want my son left alone with one of his peers and uncontrolled access to youtube, nor do I want him playing video games at seven years old.  B's parents don't seem to worry about these things though, and I don't think it would be realistic to ask them to police it.  For now my son and I have an understanding that if video games or youtube comes up, he can suggest another game or bring things back outside, but I think that is unrealistic to continue to expect that of him.  He could do those things and I would never know.  It is an unfair set-up, I think.  

Am I crazy?  Over-protective, out of touch, unrealistic, soft, selfish, naive, living in a bubble?  Or just walking through an opportunity to exercise my parental rights and honor my gut?  My kids are only 7 and 4; this peer-socialization thing is just getting going!  I welcome your thoughts, advice, and stories about the realm of friends, peers, neighbor kids, and all of their wonderful influence over time.  

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We're pretty similar to you in some ways and very different in others.

We also don't have a TV or streaming video or video games or ipads or any of that, largely because we have seen the village and we do not want it raising our children, tyvm.

But we're also pretty relaxed as far as formal manners go - we don't teach the kids to say please and thank you, or that kind of thing, because we see it largely as a formality and we're not big on formality.

So I think you have to pick your battles if you want neighborhood friends (which, when we were homeschooling and living in a neighborhood with other kids, were lifesavers socially).  If you have other social outlets it's probably no big deal, but we aren't religious and couldn't seem to fit with any of the homeschool groups, so friends were hard to come by.  I agree with madteaparty that it would be better to host kids in your home than have anxiety about your kids being exposed to youtube and TV and etc. in other peoples' homes; while a kid who doesn't behave with the social norms you prefer might be mildly annoying, I'm not sure why it would be so annoying that you'd want to ban them from the house.  If they're being aggressive or snide or dangerous or mean, sure - but just not looking at you or talking to you with the right words?  Not knowing your house rules before you explain them?  These are not things I would find impossible to tolerate.

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Welcome MegaSwan!

So, I think that your predicament isn't unusual but yes, it sounds awkward.

Firstly, you and your husband obviously have strong convictions about your family culture, and I think that is wonderful and something to stand firm in. It does sound like your expectations might be unusually high, for things like manners, no tv etc, which in and of itself is not a bad thing. These differences in family culture seem so enormous when kids are that little, but they sort of just become less of a big deal as they get bigger and everyone learns everyone else's boundaries.

Yes, you can have loving boundaries with these boys in your home, you can kindly spell out the rules, definitely model the sort of manners you expect by continuing to hold your own son to the standard he knows you expect. I would not step over the line by actively parenting them, so "sorry B, but we don't speak like that in our home, please don't do it here again. [Big smile]" <--- fine. Whereas "B, you shouldn't ever speak like that, it is rude and your parents should have taught you better" <--- way over the line, this is judgy and inhospitable.

Secondly, I would not be comfortable with my 7 year old playing effectively unsupervised in another house, doubly so with an older/wordlier playmate, x100 for unsupervised internet access. I would unapologetically hold that line. But yes, I could credibly be accused of being overprotective. 

I would also think about setting precedents, with a younger daughter. In 3 years she'll be 7, her brother will be 10 and these neighbor boys will be 13. No way on earth would I be happy with my 7 year old daughter playing in houses with teen boys, but it will be more difficult to enforce if the boys have had 3 years of it being their normal.

With kindness, this awkwardness can be dealt with. Welcome to the next stage of parenting 😄. You can do it!

Edited by LMD
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I think you're being wise and not overprotective. I would not even allow a young teen to be at someone else's house unsupervised or poorly supervised. You can try to prevent, but you cannot undo something once it has happened. And, even the "best" kids do/say/watch stupid or harmful things. 

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1) Yes, encourage them to play outside in all kinds of weather.  If you have any covered space such as porch or garage, that can be a play area in a downpour.

2) If you let the friends in, specify where they can play.  Have an area you are OK with them playing - basement, living room, play room, whatever - with toys or books or whatever you want them to play with.

3) I wouldn't tell the other kids how to act manners-wise, other than following your house rules, but I would continue to model good manners and demand them from my own kid.  In private, I would tell my kid how I expect him to interact in other people's houses.

4) I wouldn't worry too much about what goes on in other people's homes, but I would limit the amount of time spent there.  I would ask my kid what went on during these times, and decide future visits based on the past.

5) I did tell my kids not to go into their friends' houses when I didn't want kids in mine.  I told them to say that we were remodeling and the house wasn't fit for company.  Since we could not reciprocate an indoor play date, my kids were required to stay outside except in unusual circumstances.

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5 hours ago, MegaSwan100 said:

Hello all, I am new here but joined because I have an issue floating around in my mind that I would love to see from different angles.  My husband and I have two kids, a seven year-old son and a four year-old daughter.  We are homeschooling both and loving it.  We recently moved out of state to fulfill our dream of owning a house and just completed the purchase a few months ago.  We are now in an older housing track with lots of trees and children.  Before we moved here, we lived in apartment complexes with few children around so we got resourceful about finding home-school meet-ups and classes.  I believe I got a little soft, as the kids with whom my kids played with were pretty sociable, not only with other children but with adults.  

Here in the new neighborhood two boys, each from different houses on our street, came together to invite my son to play with them.  They are ten and my son is seven.  At first they only played outside, which is what I have often heard is a good limit for neighbor-kid-playtime.  But as the sweltering heat set in this summer, I allowed them into our house and then with great hesitation allowed my son to go to their houses as well.  I have met both sets of parents.  While they seem pretty normal, I am still not comfortable with it.  Perhaps it is because we aren't as normal and are not striving to be.  We don't own a television, but keep up on the news through the newspaper.  We are pretty socially active this year, with two outside classes and a park-day group keeping us out in the mornings three days a week.  But there is so much to the mainstream mindset that is so corrosive to the family and everything that we are striving for that I just cringe when I think of my tender impressionable son going over to the homes of these families that do not seem concerned or careful about the same things that we are.  Am I being overprotective?  If not, is it reasonable to say "outside play only"?  In this state the temperature either seems to either get to 100 or it rains or sleets, but hopefully they would adapt.  

The two boys are reasonably pleasant kids, but my judgement is unreliable at best and subject to rapid fluctuations.  I have doubts that they are being taught any sort of traditional manners at home, as they initially came here and walked through both our bedroom and my daughter's room without any hesitation before I could shoo them out.  One of them, A, interacts vibrantly with adults except when he is told "no", and I often hear him screaming or being screamed at and he is usually grounded or glued to his video games so we don't see much of him. 

The other one, B, interacts rather nicely with my son; he has an overall gentleness about him with both younger children and animals that is nice to see.  It is this boy that my son sees a lot of; lately they play nearly every day.  I do have a few concerns though and I welcome your thoughts about them.  This boy comes over to play but has trouble making eye contact or even speaking to me or my husband.  We share meals with him and he never says thank you or acknowledges us in any way if he doesn't have to, and when he does he seems irritated about it.  It is such a contrast from the other friends our children have made.  We are currently trying to give him a break for these reasons: 1) he comes all alone without a parent in tow to prod, "now what do we say?" as friends of younger ages usually come with and 2) we know from conversations with his parents that he went through the foster care system before they adopted him and may have some attachment/socialization issues.  Any thoughts on how to handle this though?  Should we just welcome him, be willing to set boundaries such as "no playing in other people's bedrooms" and that sort of thing, and not expect any acknowledgement?  How do we love our neighbor here?

Also, along with this boy coming over here, there is the expectation that my son should be able to play at his house too.  One or both parents are usually home but they are usually engrossed in some home improvement project, which seems fine, but the boy keeps urging my son to play video games or watch youtube on his tablet in his room.  I do not want my son left alone with one of his peers and uncontrolled access to youtube, nor do I want him playing video games at seven years old.  B's parents don't seem to worry about these things though, and I don't think it would be realistic to ask them to police it.  For now my son and I have an understanding that if video games or youtube comes up, he can suggest another game or bring things back outside, but I think that is unrealistic to continue to expect that of him.  He could do those things and I would never know.  It is an unfair set-up, I think.  

Am I crazy?  Over-protective, out of touch, unrealistic, soft, selfish, naive, living in a bubble?  Or just walking through an opportunity to exercise my parental rights and honor my gut?  My kids are only 7 and 4; this peer-socialization thing is just getting going!  I welcome your thoughts, advice, and stories about the realm of friends, peers, neighbor kids, and all of their wonderful influence over time.  

Gently - you are going to need to lighten up if it's important to you that your children socialize with the neighborhood kids. Perhaps that is not important to you. However, if you make that decision, your children may resent not being able to play with the kids on the street. 

 

We once had the idea that we would limit play to outside only with the neighborhood kids but it was too hard to enforce. The neighborhood kids would inevitably invite my daughter over. If I said no, she would be excluded. 

I think it depends on what is most important to you. It was important to me that my daughter play with the kids on our block. That may not be as important to you, which is fine as long as you are willing to live with the consequences of your decision. 

I also want to caution you about listening to your gut. People are always telling us mothers to listen to our gut but it's not always right, especially when it comes to our children's social interactions. First, sometimes our gut tells us that something is wrong but this is really a lesson our child has to learn for him/herself. Second, our 'gut' is not always right because we see everything through a filter, i.e. people like us are safe and people who are different are not safe. 

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I think you are fine just having your son play outside and inviting his friend in. Video gaming can happen outside, too, with a portable device, so stay aware. I would encourage you to make some friends with like values; if it isn't going to be neighborhood kids, it should be somebody. 

And get used to the idea that you will never be able to control every interaction between your kids and others, no matter how carefully you vet friends or put rules into place. 

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Ten is much older than 7. Maybe not by numbers, but by experience. With that in mind, I'd have no problem saying they only play outside (within sight) or at your house.  If manners concern you, lay down a few rules but mainly have talks with your own child (i.e. I know Johnny does it this way, but our family does this.)

Make your house the welcoming, fun home that all the kids want to hang at. You'll be glad of it when they're older. 

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I do think your expectations are a tad high. What kind of childhood did you have?  I would sit down and honestly compare that to what I'm offering my kid and use my own outcome as a guidance.

FWIW, all of the issues you describe you will be meeting often in the next few years.  At organized children's events, they will be talking about whatever is popular among them.  For my kid's crew it's Pokemon, Minecraft, Beyblades, Nerf, and a couple of other things like Big Nate.  Whole park days will have them talking about these things and nothing else.  It's a way to relate to each other. 
I think you are very idealistic, but I also think that your own language is judgy and dismissive of those around you, and I'd be very careful about what you, as the adult, are bringing to the table.  It's not a friendly feeling.  You are allowed to set boundaries and expect others.  My kid has a group of friends in the neighborhood that are not allowed to play video games when they go out to play.  We have a rule of no video games on week days, and a moderate amount on the weekends.  Absolutely we, the parents, share that information with each other so we can help guide the kids toward other activities.
Don't expect kids to acknowledge you.  You're a stranger and different.  You will take time to warm up to.  You can still give them the house rules and be firm in protecting your own. "These rooms are off limits" as you shut the door.  Or "No playing on the stairs here.  That's an outside game" as you show them down with an extension of your arm.

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35 minutes ago, Medicmom2.0 said:

In my first reading, I missed that the other boys are 10 and your son is 7.  I think some of this will fix itself for you. 10 year olds will have homework and school friends, and may not be as interested in playing with a 7-year-old. And...I’m not sure how to say this nicely...but a child who is not allowed to watch television or play video games is likely to be ostracized.  Once they can’t play Xbox or watch a movie with him, they’re likely to just stop inviting him over, as they can’t do their preferred activities while he’s there. It goes the same for other kids, even homeschooled kids. The homeschooled kids in the 8-13 age group I know talk incessantly about things like Minecraft and DanTDM on youtube.  

I applaud idealism.  I once held many of the same views as you(in fact my BFF just reminded me that when my son was born I said I was going to extremely limit his exposure to pop culture, as our sons battled it out on my Xbox playing Lego City).  But as my kids grew, we decided that having friends are more important than never watching a movie or playing video games.  I also think you may want to tone down the judgementalism.  Simply because a family is allowing their kid to play video games while they work on home projects doesn’t mean they aren’t supervising and are participating in a “mainstream culture that is corrosive to families.”  

I agree on the judgement attitude.  It is coming off not in the way you think or want.  

For the boy with eye contact issues and speaking to you- has it ever occurred to you that the child may have a hidden disability that you don’t know about.  

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Welcome! You said you wanted different angles, and this is the place for them! ;o) Overall, I don't think I've been considered overprotective, but when we were in a neighborhood with kids your kids' ages, I did have an "outside play only" rule. For one thing, I wanted them getting the exercise and sunshine. For another, I wanted to know where my kids were, and who/what they were being exposed to as much as possible. I also wanted to keep some semblance of order, as our neighborhood boys were rather rambunctious. I had one who was a strong introvert, and one a strong extrovert. I needed to provide the introvert a place to retreat when he needed to. And because we were on a tight budget and some of these boys had restrictive diets, other than offering water, when a kid said he was hungry, I would say, "Run home and get a snack then, and you can come back afterwards." That might not seem very hospitable, but I couldn't afford to feed snacks to the whole neighborhood every afternoon. I also didn't want mine going over to others' houses for snacks.

I wouldn't worry a whole lot about the manners thing, other than specifying which areas they could play in, if they were in our home. Or keeping them from destroying things/getting into things that are private. Just enforce it for your own kids. If I saw my kids starting to pick up a lot of bad attitudes/habits and disrespect from other kids, I would step in then and limit time. 

You might not have the constant interaction and friendships that you are desiring, but there should be some balance in the situation. We had some very close friends with whom we spent lots of time when our older kids were younger. The other parents were more relaxed about kids than we were, which caused me some tension. I later found out some things that happened that could have been really dangerous (not of the sexual nature or anything). It could have seriously harmed one of my younger children, and both one of mine and one of theirs was involved. They just were not thinking and didn't realize the seriousness of what they were doing. Therefore, I prefer to monitor more closely the interactions of children, even if it looks like I am just going about my daily chores.

I am also an introvert, so to have a completely open house was stressful to me. I didn't want kids in and out every day. Our kids were able to have a good balance of friendships though, because there were enough activities they could participate in that didn't involve having to do the in-and-out of our neighborhood houses thing.

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I think you bring up some valid points, and it sounds like you're trying to handle it all gracefully.  I also think it's fine to have the rule of outside play only (or in your home in whatever rooms you allow), at least for now.  I would 't worry too much about the future or even next year, because often the obvious solution just kind of evolves as time goes by.  I think the idea of setting up your garage for rainy day activities is fine too.  And yes, 7 is quite young to be in households where you don't know the parents at all.  (I wouldn't feel comfortable with that either.)   I think it's fine to set boundaries on that.  It's a lot harder to parent these days I think.  When my kids were young, we didn't have to worry about going on the internet unsupervised at a friend's house.  The only channel most of us had in our neighborhood was public TV because we lived in the middle of nowhere and no one seemed to bother with cable.  So, lots and lots of playing outside.

I'd probably work toward building up friendships with more like-minded people.  It will require more work at first, but that's probably what you'll be more comfortable with while your kids are young.  I'd keep working at intentionally developing empathy/understanding in your kids and not judgment when setting boundaries with other kids.  (Though again, I do think boundaries are fine.)

As I recall, those friendships that happen when children are very young (5 - 10 or so) begin to change at around middle school age.  That's when kids seem to become more tuned into their own interests and often break off those earlier friendships for other ones, so you might find the 10-year-old moving on soon anyway.

 

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35 minutes ago, Medicmom2.0 said:

 

I accidentally quoted you and can't delete it so disregard quote box.

 

We moved into a neighborhood in Feb with A LOT of neighborhood kids. We started out with the no going in the house rule and that worked real well because once neighbor kids got off the bus they'd all play some form of sport,build forts in the woods, or play on the playset at people's houses. Ages range from 6 to 12. The six year old is ours and he really just tags along with our 9 and 10 year olds. 

After a few months and being able to get to know one of the parents pretty well, we started letting the kids go in that house. But that is it. We don't know the other parents well enough yet to be comfortable with the kids going into other houses. Any kid that has permission from their parents can come to our house though. They swim in our pool, bake cookies, and on occasion play videogames. But mostly the kids play outside. 

We have a hard rule of no watching TV or youtube when at friends house, unless it is a family affair and the parents are watching with them. We trust that while the parents we know don't share all of our values they will make wise.choices when it comes to the most important things, such as sexual content in film.  My kids actually confessed to me that they broke that rule recently when the neighbor kid wanted to show them a show and they continued to watch it. I handled it by choosing to not allow them at the house again until I had viewed the show myself(it was not inappropriate at all) and by making sure they know I appreciated their honesty and that in the future I expect them to choose to leave the house instead of break our trust. 

We do have one set of neighbors with 4 kids who have no TV or other devices other than one handheld videogame system the middle school son owns. They are not ostracized at all. They get along great with all the kids and play with them outside regularly. Most parents encourage outdoor time and that is what I would suggest you strive for, even though bad exposure certainly happens outside.

 

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I don’t have a problem with outside play only (we did that but we had a much more temperate climate). I also think that the age difference will be an issue in a year or two. I also agree with posters who suggested making your house the place to play (though obviously you can’t force other kids into wanting to play at your house). 

I am going to make a comment on your thread title about modern kids. I am in my mid-fifties and kids haven’t changed from when I was a kid. Oh toys and technology have changed but kids were just as likely to get into trouble in “the old days “. (I say this because there can be rose colored glasses about the “good ole days “ and sometimes this leads to unrealistic expectations about real children.). 

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In regards to other kids and manners, just leave it alone. Everybody has different comfortability levels with interacting with others.  Please and thank you are great but they aren't true identifiers of how well behaved people are. I know plenty of adults who have their manners down to a science but still have disgusting behavior I don't want to associate with.

As long as the kid isn't speaking rudely to you, leave it alone and show him grace.

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I'm with others here. Your expectations are too high. They sound like decent kids. Formal manners are overrated, IMHO. But they really do seem like nice, normal kids.

But your concerns are also warranted. The age difference is a bit big. Some things that are fine and acceptable for 10 yos aren't so much for 7 yos. At age 7, I didn't allow my kids to play many video games. I mean, a few minutes here and there on an education app and they had little Leapsters for long car trips (remember those!), but it was severely limited. By age 10, my kids played things like Mario Kart and Minecraft and that was totally fine too. You may have a different standard for those ages, but just the idea that 10 yos play video  games... I mean, in moderation, I'd say that's not anything to be concerned about. But coming from being the parent of a relatively sheltered 7 and 4 yo, of course it seems wild to you.

And your desire for him not to play video games or have open access to YouTube is also totally within the bounds of normal. Especially the YouTube thing. So with all that in mind, I think it's okay to limit how much he hangs out over at their houses.

Here's what I'd say... lighten your attitude toward these boys and their families. Try to loosen your expectations. But also, encourage them to play outside and be the host for them instead of having him over there. I don't know if you need a firm rule, though I think it would be okay if you made one. I'd make it so your house is the default unless there's a specific reason to be at the other boys' houses. If you do make a firm rule, I'd be really open about it with the other parents. I'd say something like, "I know you guys are great parents and that they get plenty of supervision. Your son has been so sweet to ds and we really love that. If they're over there, it's not a big deal, but we'd really prefer that they play outside or at our house. It's more with the age difference, we just have different boundaries for ds. We don't want to be overprotective but we also want to avoid things like YouTube and video games for a few more years and I don't think it's fair to ask you or your son to enforce our rules and ds is too young to really get it either."

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My Ds had a neighbor friend 3 years older than he was for awhile.  Similarly we have no TV and at that stage no video games (other than a few “educational” options like Sum Dog). The older boy’s home was dominated by a huge flat screen TV and he was very into video games. Also the other home was militantly vegan (the mom wrote books about it) and we were organic practices preference for local grown organic food omnivores (which to some people might both equally qualify as “health food nuts” — but they are radically different).  But basically the boys got along for a time and I think the , um, cultural exchange was good for each to see.  

It ended of its own accord as the older boy who was in brick and mortar school became very busy with teen friends and activities.  And then after that moved away.  

B sounds like a similarly nice boy.  

Perhaps shy with adults.  Maybe getting to know you will help him to be less reluctant to make eye contact.

Though there are also cultures where direct eye contact is considered rude.  And for some, politeness means “mi casa es su casa” so that kids traipsing through any room of their own or a friend’s home is considered normal. 

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7 hours ago, moonflower said:

But we're also pretty relaxed as far as formal manners go - we don't teach the kids to say please and thank you, or that kind of thing, because we see it largely as a formality and we're not big on formality.

 

I’m very curious about this, because I don’t know anyone who doesn’t at least try to teach their kids basic manners, like saying please and thank you. Those are things that are expected of people in everyday situations. I can’t think of a single day when I haven’t said please and thank you, so I’m wondering what your kids do in average social situations. I mean, if someone holds a door open for them, don’t they say thank you? If they are in a store and need someone to hand them something off a high shelf, don’t they say please when they ask for help and thank you when someone does it for them?

I’m not trying to pick on you — I’m just trying to understand what you meant, because I don’t know how anyone (even a kid) would be viewed positively by others if they didn’t use standard social niceties like please and thank you. Also, those words aren’t just formalities; they are a way to show others that you appreciate them. Also, the older kids get, the more people will judge them for not having good manners,  and that could be very detrimental to them.

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I don't have any advice for the original poster (OP), but y'all are always enlightening me. I do not see anything alarming about a 7 yr old hanging with a 10 yr old, especially in homeschooling circles. (I realize the older boy is public-schooled.)

One of my friends has boys that range from sophomore in high school to junior in college. The youngest was hanging with his older brothers' friends from age 5 on.

As another example, my 16 yr old consistently hangs with 6-to-12 yr olds. She prefers them to her boy/clothes-crazy, drama-inducing peers. 

Further, there are two sweet little girls next door. The oldest isn't even K age yet. My kids (10-to-16 of both genders) play with them several days a week. In several years, will their parents decide it isn't appropriate for my (then) teenage boy to still interact with their (then) 7 yr old even though they've been playmates since the girl could toddle over to our house? Their relationship will have changed, I'm sure, but will they tell her to avoid him?

I'm reminded periodically on this board of how sheltered & innocent I am.

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7 minutes ago, RootAnn said:

I don't have any advice for the original poster (OP), but y'all are always enlightening me. I do not see anything alarming about a 7 yr old hanging with a 10 yr old, especially in homeschooling circles. (I realize the older boy is public-schooled.)

One of my friends has boys that range from sophomore in high school to junior in college. The youngest was hanging with his older brothers' friends from age 5 on.

As another example, my 16 yr old consistently hangs with 6-to-12 yr olds. She prefers them to her boy/clothes-crazy, drama-inducing peers. 

Further, there are two sweet little girls next door. The oldest isn't even K age yet. My kids (10-to-16 of both genders) play with them several days a week. In several years, will their parents decide it isn't appropriate for my (then) teenage boy to still interact with their (then) 7 yr old even though they've been playmates since the girl could toddle over to our house? Their relationship will have changed, I'm sure, but will they tell her to avoid him?

I'm reminded periodically on this board of how sheltered & innocent I am.

Yeah I don't particularly see anything wrong with the age range other than the fact that their are differences in what I'd allow a ten year old to watch/do than a 7 year old. The OP is specifically concerned about the activities the kids engage in while inside other kids houses. So, age would be relevant for me in this case because a show or game a ten year old can watch/play isn't necessarily appropriate for a seven year old.

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Since, like many on these boards, I have a decent age span, I admit that my youngest has been exposed to things I wouldn't have dreamed of letting my oldest read/see/go to at the same age.

But they are also different kids.

I think what many are saying on here is the OP will need to lighten up but some are pointing out that the slackening/lowering of expectations will likely happen organically over time anyway. I would agree there is a change over time for many.

I'm all about protecting innocence as long as possible & trying to protect my littles. I'm a big believer in following my gut even though that means I might be over protective.

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46 minutes ago, RootAnn said:

I don't have any advice for the original poster (OP), but y'all are always enlightening me. I do not see anything alarming about a 7 yr old hanging with a 10 yr old, especially in homeschooling circles. (I realize the older boy is public-schooled.)

One of my friends has boys that range from sophomore in high school to junior in college. The youngest was hanging with his older brothers' friends from age 5 on.

As another example, my 16 yr old consistently hangs with 6-to-12 yr olds. She prefers them to her boy/clothes-crazy, drama-inducing peers. 

Further, there are two sweet little girls next door. The oldest isn't even K age yet. My kids (10-to-16 of both genders) play with them several days a week. In several years, will their parents decide it isn't appropriate for my (then) teenage boy to still interact with their (then) 7 yr old even though they've been playmates since the girl could toddle over to our house? Their relationship will have changed, I'm sure, but will they tell her to avoid him?

I'm reminded periodically on this board of how sheltered & innocent I am.

Most of us are pointing out that social dynamics often change at the Middle School level.  They don't necessarily have to but I think that they do more often than not.  I would assume that an older teen girl playing with younger children is more in a babysitting role (even if she isn't actually paid to be a babysitter) unless there are social and developmental delays.  This is simply because developmental stages of children in general means that there is a difference in how younger children play and relate to each other than how pre-teens and then teens relate.  Because it is a continuum and because kids are individuals it isn't a hard and fast thing to point to on a chart but I think that we can safely point to overall trends and stages. 

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I definitely don't think of that age difference as "alarming." In a large group of kids, I wouldn't even think twice. But the rules for a 10 yo are probably (and should be!) different than a 7 yo. The things 10 yos are allowed to do, the area they're allowed to roam in the neighborhood, the games they're likely to want to play - those are all different for those ages. And it doesn't mean that they can't be friends and meet in the middle. But I wouldn't necessarily expect a 10 yo to be cognizant of why he might need to not talk about the various things he's hearing from his older friends about puberty or older video games or scary movies, with a 7 yo. And I don't think it would make him a bad kid. I mean, it's normal for 10 yos to have, say, seen Stranger Things or played Fortnite or be friends with a kid who was already getting a mustache and want to talk about it. And it's also normal for a 10 yo to also be watching Phineas and Ferb, playing elaborate pretend games with toys, and not getting any of the references by the older kids in class to changing bodies. And those can be the same kid on different days, which is why I wouldn't think it was weird at all that a 10 and 7 yo could be friends.

But it does mean that the parent of the 10 yo's expectations for kid behavior may be more loose - again, without it being bad at all - it would just be age appropriate. And it may mean they just need a smidge more supervision and clear boundaries. I think in the OP's case, she's also coming at it from being a bit more sheltering and a bit less mainstream. When you couple that with the age difference, I think her and these other parents are likely on very different pages. I suspect in an ideal world, they could learn a bit from each other. But in the meantime, I'd say keep them a little closer so she doesn't have to worry as much. But also try to give the other families some slack, at least, mentally in how she's thinking about them.

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12 hours ago, LMD said:

I would also think about setting precedents, with a younger daughter. In 3 years she'll be 7, her brother will be 10 and these neighbor boys will be 13. No way on earth would I be happy with my 7 year old daughter playing in houses with teen boys, but it will be more difficult to enforce if the boys have had 3 years of it being their normal.

 

Really? Is this because the default assumption is that teen boys are sex predators? If so, I find that extremely disturbing and offensive, particularly as the parent of three sons.

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I think that there are several issues and you probably need to think through which are critical and which are preferences, and that differes for different families and different kids within the same family.  For example, we don't have a game system at our house.  My kids are allowed a few games on kindles when we are on road trips or otherwise 'stuck', but it's not a daily, or even weekly, thing.  That's my choice for how our household works...but if my kids are elsewhere, I'm fine with them playing reasonable games.  By the time they get to youth-aged, there are video games in the youth room at church to play during 'hangout time'.  For me, it's about how much time is spent on it, not the activity itself, and they aren't in a location where it could be played for enough hours each week to bother me.  

For TV, I would have 2 questions - amount of time and type of show.  If my son were hanging out with friends watching sports, I wouldn't care.  For movies or shows, I'd want to know what they typically watch, but I'd keep in mind how much time is spent on it - a few hours of screen time each week (whether all in one day or scattered because they watch a favorite show every day) - fine.  A couple of hours a day?  Not fine.  

Everybody has their own ideas about amount of supervision, so you have to figure out what is necessary and sensible for that set of kids.  The age difference can be an issue, but doesn't have to be.  My kids are involved in Science Olympiad.  Our homeschool group has both middle and high school teams, and at meets we are usually assigned to one big room together.  My 5th grader was taught to play cards by a group of 9th graders.  While the age gap is big and they didn't socialize outside of SO or co-op activities, they sometimes chatted on our message groups and it wasn't weird (one called my kid mini-me).  But, their interactions were specific to a few activities.  When my brother and I were in middle and late elementary, we spent hours every week playing basketball with a high schooler.  He taught us a lot, and him playing us 2 on 1 helped his game, too. These were outside or group things so I understand that it's different, but I just wanted to point out that these interactions aren't unusual if there's a common interest.  If there isn't, then it tends to die off naturally.  

I would also say that, while it feels very young, I would suggest talking to your kid about the things that I'm guessing truly concern you.  The boy scouts require kids to be taught about inappropriate touch, inappropriate computer content, etc, when they first start as cubs.  While these sorts of things aren't likely to happen, i'd assume that worry about these sorts of issues is a much bigger deal than whether the kid has good manners or great interactions with adults.  The manners stuff would just be a teaching tool for us - there are lots of situations where parents have to tell their kids that different families do things differently, and this is one that doesn't really affect your kid.  

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6 hours ago, RootAnn said:

I don't have any advice for the original poster (OP), but y'all are always enlightening me. I do not see anything alarming about a 7 yr old hanging with a 10 yr old, especially in homeschooling circles. (I realize the older boy is public-schooled.)

One of my friends has boys that range from sophomore in high school to junior in college. The youngest was hanging with his older brothers' friends from age 5 on.

As another example, my 16 yr old consistently hangs with 6-to-12 yr olds. She prefers them to her boy/clothes-crazy, drama-inducing peers. 

Further, there are two sweet little girls next door. The oldest isn't even K age yet. My kids (10-to-16 of both genders) play with them several days a week. In several years, will their parents decide it isn't appropriate for my (then) teenage boy to still interact with their (then) 7 yr old even though they've been playmates since the girl could toddle over to our house? Their relationship will have changed, I'm sure, but will they tell her to avoid him?

I'm reminded periodically on this board of how sheltered & innocent I am.

That's not exactly what was said. No one said they can't interact, that's a very not-kind interpretation. No, I wouldn't be comfortable with my 7 year old daughter playing with teen boys unsupervised in another house. Not because I think boys turn into monsters at 13 (I would hope not, I have 3 boys myself) but because 13 year olds are in a very different stage of development and what is appropriate for them (or even inappropriate but accessible and tempting) is not necessarily appropriate for a 7 year old - especially a little girl.

I also wanted to touch on the 'they'll be ostracized if they don't play games/watch tv' thing - I disagree. We do have tv/games here, but some of my kids' closest friends don't. Those kids are wonderful, a lot of fun and very popular - and I don't blink at their teen sons playing with my 6 year old. It can be done well, we all learned each other's boundaries - they don't lecture my kids on their clothes (my teen dd can be... rebellious with her clothes choices!) or viewing habits and we don't expect them to violate their conscience and play something my kids like. We all give each other grace and end up having a great time.

 

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2 hours ago, 2squared said:

 

Really? Is this because the default assumption is that teen boys are sex predators? If so, I find that extremely disturbing and offensive, particularly as the parent of three sons.

I have 3 sons too so get off your high horse. The default assumption is that teen boys are into teen boy stuff and don't have the wisdom or experience to parse out age appropriate for little kids nor the impulse control to refrain in their presence. 

And yeah, some teen boys are sexual predators (of little girls and little boys) and they don't wear labels to that effect. That doesn't mean treating teen boys like lepers, it does mean I'll set the boundaries that I'm comfortable with for my own children - unapologetically. I also won't judge you for where you set yours.

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We are ok with video games at other people’s homes but do ask the parents what games are allowed.  We do not let my 12 year old daughter play with boys her age who have phones or tablets.  She has seen horror movie clips from a friend’s tablet that gave her nightmares.  We dont allow sleepovers as a general rule unless we know the parents really really well.  Manners and all that were not an expectation from other kids.  

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2 hours ago, 2squared said:

 

Really? Is this because the default assumption is that teen boys are sex predators? If so, I find that extremely disturbing and offensive, particularly as the parent of three sons.

I also have two teen sons and no, I wouldn’t let my daughter play in a home with older teen boys unless I knew the family well.  No, not all or even most teen boys are going to take advantage of a younger girl, but all it takes is that outlier and I personally wouldn’t want my daughter to find that one kid who was that predator.  

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My kids are allowed to use screens (though they did it on a very limited basis prior to middle school - we were always busy doing something else).

Though they are allowed to use screens, I try to teach them that the time to use screens is not when you are with friends.  That you need to put all your focus on interacting with your friends.  They can see how annoying it is when they have a friend over and she's on her phone facetiming someone else the whole time.  (The rules do change as their social group incorporates technology with active in-person interaction, which is OK IMO.  But that is more of a middle school thing.)

I guess my point is that kids need to use their limited time with friends to interact face to face.  So that would be another reason for me to keep my kid playing outside or in my house as much as possible.  How to do it without offending the other family is the question.

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17 minutes ago, Pen said:

@MegaSwan100  welcome!  You seem to have picked a hot topic to start!

 

I was wondering why she hasn't commented on any of the replies to her post, so I visited her profile and apparently she hasn’t been back to the forum at all since the moment she posted this thread. 

Oh well. It was an interesting topic, anyway, whether she comes back or not!  🙂

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8 minutes ago, Catwoman said:

 

I was wondering why she hasn't commented on any of the replies to her post, so I visited her profile and apparently she hasn’t been back to the forum at all since the moment she posted this thread. 

Oh well. It was an interesting topic, anyway, whether she comes back or not!  🙂

 

Yep.

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40 minutes ago, Pen said:

Maybe troll threads should be grouped and pinned somewhere like near site info—so they can be checked.  

 that way trolls at least have to exercise creativity to come up with something new.  

 

Truthfully, this topic was nothing to write home about, trollwise.  A good troll post incites all kinds of vicious arguments; this was way too mild. 

Now if the OP had said she wasn’t sure about her kid playing with the neighbor boys while she was busy renting out her family’s minivan as a taxi because she needed the extra money, but she needed to ask her pastor about it first... oh, wait. Never mind. Somebody already did something like that. 😉

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I have two sons who are soon to be 14 and they happen to be the oldest kids in the neighborhood, of the kids they play with.  When the next door neighbors moved in, my sons were 6.  The neighbors son was 3 and their daughter was 1.  My sons have really enjoyed playing with their kids over the years and view them as younger siblings (they have even played dolls and tea parties with the daughter:). We have gotten to know the parents also.  Although we have many differences in how we raise our kids, we have worked together over the years to make it work. Their kids have played over here a few times (mostly the son) but the vast majority of the time it's my sons playing at their house and even babysitting their son at times now that they are all older. With the age difference, it makes a lot more sense for my sons to play there than for her kids to play here. If you make your rules clear, the kids will learn them and it should get easier.  My boys had no problem with their rule of not pretending to "shoot" someone with a toy gun at their house (except with nerf guns), for example. They are more lenient on the amount of video game time so my sons just come home if their son starts playing games. Their son knows that too so he won't play his video games if he really wants to play with my sons.There are other things we don't do at our house that they do but my boys know our rules and we have worked through any issues that have come up. It has been so worth the effort. They don't spend as much time together these days as they once did but they still enjoy each other even now.

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On 9/22/2019 at 2:32 PM, Pen said:

@MegaSwan100  welcome!  You seem to have picked a hot topic to start!

 

 

Hello everybody!  I am amazed at the responses to this thread and am so glad that I wrote.  I am grateful for the correction about my judgmental comments, as I can see that they are dismissive, as HomeAgain captured, as well as ignorant.  In thinking over this issue throughout the last few days I realize I am coming from a place of fear and from there resentment has crept in too.  Fear and resentment of the unknown with new situations and new people.  I seem to deal with big waves of this every once in a while as we move into new phases of our children's development.  

Medicmom wisely questioned, "have you not had many interactions with children in your home?"  Painfully few!  It wasn't until after having my first child that I realized I had gone most of my life without being around children much younger than I was, which is sad.  When I did finally babysit in my college years people were constantly telling me, "you let them walk all over you! You need to be doing/saying this, this, this..." Now as parents, we have tried to invite people over with children as much as possible, both homeschooled and not, but due to the ages of the kids up until now they usually came accompanied by parents, so I really have no idea how 10 year olds are supposed to act on their own.  I just started thinking maybe there is something I am not saying or doing and that I am setting myself up as a passive and incapable authority figure and that these kids pick up on it.  Jaybee wrote, "I am also an introvert, so to have a completely open house was stressful to me" and when I read that a lightbulb went off.   Left to my own devices, that is what I would be all the time, introverted, and then also phlegmatic and melancholic...so this parenting thing has me way outside of my comfort zone. Having kids running through my house is taking some getting used to, but as madteaparty described early on, having them want to be there is a good thing. I feel very weakened by my extreme discomfort in correcting other people's kids though.  I always feel like I am doing it wrong and that they can see right through me or that they are going to go tell their parents that I am mean or something, I don't know, but the critical voices in my head really have me on this one.  But we are involved in a lot of groups and I do see other parents doing it quite nicely so I try to remember their tones, phrases, attitudes, and that sort of thing.  I can't run from this forever.  Mary Poppins is a good one to think of, I think.  Bright smile, all the confidence in the world, happily and succinctly doling out boundaries...ahh. (Julie Andrews I mean; I have not had the privilege of reading the books.)  But through friends, books, and now this thread, I am getting things figured out and can see the light with the the set-boundaries-don't-worry-about-niceties type of plan if B. is over, or any kid.  

Here I am tiptoeing around my own issues but in reality it seems like we as parents have to get over ourselves lightning quick and just deal with stuff.  I feel heavy in the heart for any resentment for B that came through.  Truthfully, his history did, and does, make me want to show more grace, but I needed to sort out how to show more grace without being a push-over, if that makes any sense.

And about videogames and tv and corrosion to the family...I regret having mentioned that the way that I did and making that broad judgement.  Not choosing to partake of those technologies at this time works nicely for us, but taking such a negative tone was insecure and definitely not what I wanted to convey.  We have formed some pretty close friendships with about three or four families since we've moved here and we consider them "like-minded".  All of them watch tv and at least two of them do videogames.  And these are people we are considering as we try to find a family with which our children could live in the event of our demise.  They are all amazing families, one of them even "free-range" as one poster (can't find your name right now but hoping to respond more!) described, and we consider them mentors in one way or another.  I guess the like-mindedness comes in the loving of our children...we all do, and through that I hope to make more bonds and learn more things.  Thank you all for your time and thoughtful replies!  They are all helping me!

I hope to respond more to individual posts as I get time here and there.  For now, I am off to bed!

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