Childrearing

You’re Lovely And All But Your Kid Is Banned From My Home

By  | 

For the past year or so, my two oldest boys (ages eight and six) have had busier social calendars than I have: sporting events, parties, activities and, of course, play dates. For the most part, their friends are a good group of kids. But there are a few that are no longer welcome in our home. The ones that torture our dog or our other children? Banished. The ones that cry over anything and everything? No, thanks. My kids can go to their houses where, hopefully, they’re more comfortable.

At our house, we play by our rules. And if that makes me a monster because I refuse to dole out Fruit Roll-Ups or sodas, so be it. Ditto video games. There’s absolutely a time and place for gaming, but not when it’s glorious outside and they’ve already had over an hour of “screen time.” I hate to admit it, but there was one boy here who behaved in such a revolting manner (throwing tantrums – and furniture!) that I caved and handed over the remote just to keep the peace.

With three sons and a lack of patience on my part, it’s now reached the stage where, after three strikes (okay, sometimes even two…or one), they’re banned.

Then what?

That’s the magic question. Sure, there are the so-called rotten apples who due to nature or nurture, are brutal to have around. The kid whose idea a good time is a punching contest doesn’t necessarily find himself besieged by invitations. At least not from my guys. My kids know that being pushed around physically or emotionally during a play date isn’t grounds for a repeat visit at either house.

But what to do if it’s your friends’ kids? I’d hate to think my children were acting rude or violent with my friends. Of course I’d be upset, but I’d want to know. I hope that I’d keep an open mind, and not immediately presume my child is perfectly innocent, difficult as that may be. Usually with the kids we know well (i,e.,, family friends and relatives), there’s a comfort level that allows their kids – and ours – to misbehave more than they would with a mere acquaintance. Again, because we all know each other so well, it’s easy to discipline these kids. Or, if that doesn’t work, talk about it with their parents.

But what of the good friend gone bad? You know, the kid who has somehow turned from being a normal, sweet little boy into the spawn of Satan? The one who raids your fridge and leaves evidence all over your house, only to deny it all and threaten to “kick your face in” when confronted?  We had that a couple of weeks ago. And, to make matters worse, it seemed to be rubbing off on our son. I was mortified. What if it was the other way around? What if my kid was the obnoxious one, influencing his friend?

This time it wasn’t. I don’t think I’m blind to my sons’ faults, but who knows? I thought about discussing it with the mom. While not a good friend by any stretch, she was a lovely woman who, no doubt, would be sick about it.

But I chickened out. It’s not like any laws were broken and my telling would keep her son out of trouble. No, if I tattled, it’d be to get the child into trouble. And I didn’t want it to backfire. So I kept my feelings about her obnoxious child to myself. Sometimes honesty is overrated. And besides, one parent’s nightmare is another’s angel. And we all know our own children are perfect. Almost.

(Photo: Cresta Johnson /Shutterstock)