Saturday, October 02, 2010

Question for the weekend readers:

If a neighbor yells at your child, and I mean YELLS as in extremely angry, harsh tone, with an accusatory, direct order to "Come here NOW!" and you are witness to it, what do you do? Take into consideration that your child and his child were playing very roughly in the yard. Both have different versions of what happened where his child claims to have been handled too roughly (which I totally believe) but your child claims that the friend was totally involved in the wrestling match and was sitting on your child's head.

I KNOW, right? Soap opera in the backyard, eh?

I try to stay out of things as much as possible. I have stated, NUMEROUS times to all the children that if you are rough-housing, you are accepting that you may get hurt. I have also repeatedly stressed to my child that he is incredibly rough and needs to tone things down. I have also told the neighbor child that if he plays this way with my son, he has to know that things may get too physical for him, so maybe he shouldn't play rough with my son?!? I've told the parents the same. We've all agreed that my kid doesn't always know the limits so their much smaller child shouldn't be playing rough with the other boys in my yard.

And yet.

And yet, they still wrestle and play football despite the head and a half my kid has on theirs. And things still get out of control, but it is NOT entirely my son's fault!

Faults aside, though, it all comes down to the way someone else is entitled to speak to your child. I would NEVER speak the same way to their children the way he speaks to my son. Only if the said kid was in extreme danger or in the act of committing a heinous act against another child would I raise my voice at someone else's kid like that.

Keep in mind that:

a. I am not a person who will do a "hand in your face, don't you talk to MY CHILD" kind of person. I may not be mild-mannered, but I don't feel that rudeness is necessary as much as the world seems to.

b. We live within very close proximity to this family. They are our friends. We may have different parenting philosophies and lifestyles, but neither of us are perfect. We help each other out and usually get along fairly well. I want to continue this, not destroy it!

c. My son was crying today because I was reminding him about not playing rough with this child. He cried because he said the father doesn't like him, is always yelling at him, and he just wants to play with his friend.



Kat said...

I am super old school so take this for what it is worth. When I was little all of the neighbors would yell at us kids if we were doing something they thought was inapporpriate. That is how I grew up. So, if a neighbor was yelling like that at my kid (and I knew he was partially at fault) then I would just tell my kid that now they know what upsets that neighbor and not to do it again.

I do feel badly for your son, because I know it is hard to be the biggest kid in the neighborhood, and I DEFINITELY would not yell at someone else's child like that (i would probably just tell him he needs to go home or something), but if you are friends with this neighbor I would just let it go. Holy run-on sentence!!!!
Anyway, good luck!

Clare said...

Tricky one! Honestly, I am not confrontational either, and since you don't know exactly what happened, it would be hard to confront anyway. Unless my kid had been hurt or threatened in some way, I would probably let it go with the neighbor, for the sake of keeping peace. However, I would (and I have done this) say something to my kid about maybe taking a break from that particular neighbor kid, or playing differently with that boy in the future, just because you never know if tempers will flare again. Good luck!

Rebecca said...

You can discuss this without being confrontational. And since your boy was in tears, it MUST be addressed. So, invite them over for coffee and home baked cookies, and have a convo. Let them know your son was upset at being "talked to" like that and it scared him, and since you know they wouldn't want to scare him you thought they should know. It can go very well if it's handled like that - in a social type setting, without making it seem like that's the whole reason you invited them.

I avoid confrontation like the plague, and so this is how I try to handle things, especially when I can't risk rocking any boats. Usually works pretty well and things get settled and feelings stay unhurt.

Good luck!!

Manic Mommy said...

There's no way to comment succinctly.

We've had a very similar situation with our neighbors. Our younger boys are a month apart and always play together. We have gone on long weekends with this family, babysit, hang out together, etc.

Because of our proximity, the kids tend to treat each other more like siblings or at least cousins. Which definitely includes fighting - verbally and occasionally physically.

The parents will sometimes raise their voices to our sons. The father makes no apologies but the mother will frequently say "oh sorry, it's like I'm talking to one of my own kids."

For the most part, I've taken the stance of kicking their kid out of our yard if theirs is causing the trouble and try and stop rough-housing before it goes too far. I'm like you; my mantra is "when you play rough, someone always gets hurt and sometimes it's you." Their take tends to be 'never hit' which just isn't realistic when you're talking about boys.

During one episode, I just handed it off to Andy to let him speak to the dad "man-to-man" to explain our philosophy. Basically, I've never been a boy.

In short, I do swallow a little to keep the peace. I still don't know if it's the best way to go.

Joy said...

I'd have a chat with your neighbor about setting some common limits on the type of play and acceptable consequences, and who is to implement those consequences if/when the limits are broken, so that the boys have the same rules and boundaries from house to house, and can still enjoy playing together. Good luck!

Unknown said...

The neighbor yelling at your son and causing him to cry is something that needs to be addressed. I might raise my voice at my own children sometimes (and they know what to expect from me), but I have *never* yelled at my kids' friends or, hopefully, caused them to feel they are not liked by me.

I agree with Rebecca - you don't have to be confrontational about it, but you don't have to just let it go for the sake of keeping the peace.

Shannon said...

A tough one! I am a nonconfrontational person, almost to a fault. And, it gets a tricky when it's neighbors, huh? I'd probably talk to the neighbor the next time the kids are playing and mention how "we've" got to do something about this rough play in a very casual manner and see where the conversation goes. You're poor son, though. It's SO sad to see one on your children feel not liked by an adult. Good luck!

Eliza said...

Ugh, that situation makes my tummy hurt. I have no idea how to handle these situations. If it were me, I'd probably just let the kids not play together for a few days until it kinda blows over and everybody forgets about it????

Balancing Lisa said...

I wish I could help, but you've only worried me for the future. My son is only 2 and we don't have many "friends" to play with yet.
Yelling at another person's kid though?! Yikes!
It's stinky that your son now feels the neighbor dad hates him, but maybe tell him he doesn't and he'd be nice if he didn't rough house so much with his kid?! See! I'm no help right?! ;)

*~(boom)~* said...

I think I'd just send the "offending" kid home to be dealt with by his or her parents. A phone call to you would have done the trick. Kids are kids...they fight, fall off things and generally act like yahoos...and that is the way it's supposed to be.

Your poor son. I was once spanked by an aunt, and to this day, I am annoyed by the memory of it. Even then, I knew she had no right. Discipline belongs with the parents.

Anonymous said...

I pretty much agree with the other comments...the only thing I know I'd want to do, is go talk to the dad. Not all up in a huff and angry, but I'd want to talk to him if my kid was in tears b/c he thought his friend's dad hated him. I'd just ask him what happened b/c it really upset your son. Tell him he looks up to him and that his actions upset him. Then go from there...if he starts spouting and flipping out, well, I'd be limiting the kids' interactions. But I'd also mention that kids will be kids and sometimes they get hurt when they don't listen and that it applies to ALL kids whether we want to believe it or

It really stinks that it's people you're close to, but we gotta keep our kids safe (emotional or physical), that's our job as parents...but I also agree, if you're gonna play rough, someone WILL get hurt, sometimes you pay, sometimes you don't.

Sorry it's such a sucky situation.

Katie said...

I think I would say something along the lines of, "I saw the situation and agree that my son went over the line. However, he seemed to be reacting to your son also crossing a line. While I understand the need to intervene when it gets to this point, I wasn't really comfortable with how it was done. In the future, can you come and get me and we can handle it together."

Honestly, though, if someone was speaking to my kids in a way that upset them that much, I wouldn't be so concerned about preserving the friendship. My kids' feelings come before any adult's.

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