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View Full Version : Omg Parents, how do you navigate the social minefield of kids and their parents?



kikazaru
03-27-2006, 01:03 AM
I can't stand the constant guilt. My kids are busy in sports, hockey, soccer, karate and they are popular with their friends. They have 2 particular friends a bro and sister who are in the same grades as my kids and these kids often invite mine over for an hour or 2 in the evening during the middle of the week (one of their only free nights). I have a fairly small house - no basement or rec room so when kids are over they are pretty visible. My husband works hard all week and deserves some free time during the weekend and we try to get in some family time, as well as time for us and also get the dog out for a good run. Between all of this I feel obliged to reciprocate having the bro and sister sometime on the weekend (today is the day) but I don't do this nearly as often as my kids go there. To top it off today the kid's mom invited me to her church to learn about Christianity. What?? This reduced me to stunned silence and then stuttering incoherance and now I just want to avoid her altogether. It's so damn awkward.

*sigh*

I despise feeling guilty. It makes me cranky.

My kids are 8 and 10 - someone pls tell me it gets better when they are older.

Yeshanu
03-27-2006, 01:16 AM
Three words: No, thank you.


You don't need to explain, and you don't need to feel guilty. Friendship shouldn't be a commercial exchange, where if you give me something I'm obligated to give you something. It should be about gifts from the heart. If the parents of your kids' friends are feeling put upon, just explain to them some of what you've told us about your house size, etc. Explain it to your kids, too, so they know why they can't have friends over every day of the week.

I'd also, in your situation, consider limiting my kids' outside activities. When my kids were younger, they were allowed one outside activity. When they reached the teen years, they were allowed more, but by then they were able to take the bus to some of them, so I wasn't driving all the time.

I'd also limit the time my kids spent at other people's houses. Yes, they can go over, but not on a weeknight, and not every weekend for hours.

Or whatever restrictions seem reasonable to you.

It seems like you've got the "yes" bug, and your cranky, guilty feeling is your intelligent inner self telling you that the situation is out of control or getting there. Have a family meeting, lay out the new rules, explain why they're being put in place, and then STICK TO THEM.

jenngreenleaf
03-27-2006, 01:21 AM
:Hug2:

I wish I could offer more than just this hug. My kids are four (boy), five (girl) and six (boy) and I've only run into one parent (a father) that is not really anyone I care to be around. We're moving this summer, so that's the solution (temporary, because it'll happen again) to my problem.

Godfather
03-27-2006, 01:24 AM
i never got into that whole 'i hate my parents' thing..

i get along pretty well with my parents, so does my brother

Fern
03-27-2006, 01:32 AM
When mine were that age I was caregiving for my father-in-law in our home and my husband worked odd hours. . .sleeping during the daytime, etc. I always felt badly that I couldn't let my kids have lots of company and I think it was worse because when I grew up we always had a housefull of kids there so that was what I thought it "should" be like.

What you could do is maybe every other Saturday take all the kids for a couple hours and go to some place for lunch and then to play at the park. Do a picnic & you can have some writing time while they explore. Go skating or some such. Your husband may enjoy having the house to himself for a couple hours too.

Just don't let it get where it is a chore. Its easy to get "locked in" to these things, then it becomes a job instead of an enjoyable outing with the kids.

kikazaru
03-27-2006, 01:42 AM
Yeshanu I feel guilty because I say "no" way more than I say "yes." I say "yes" when I just can't in all good concience say no anymore. I want my kids in extracurricular sports activities (which they do enjoy most of the time) but it limits their time with friends of their choosing. Hence the guilt over saying no.

I never feel slighted if I'm not invited somewhere or my kids are not, it doesn't bother me at all, but I think that these people are keeping score.

Jenn, thanks for the hug. And moving sounds like a great idea to me lol!

Godfather I don't hate my parents - in fact I moved next door to them because I enjoy them so much.

writerterri
03-27-2006, 01:43 AM
i never got into that whole 'i hate my parents' thing..

i get along pretty well with my parents, so does my brother


How old are you and why do you get along so well? Maybe I could learn something from you.

Waiting eagerly,

Terri

writerterri
03-27-2006, 01:47 AM
Kika- Christanity isn't so bad. Tear down the wall and go. What have you got to lose by going to church? Don't worry. I wont hate you if you say no to me.

As far as the kids go, I agree with Yeshanu.


Terri

kikazaru
03-27-2006, 01:52 AM
Thanks Fern. I think that's why the guilt weighs so heavy on me, because I get the feeling that most parents are way more generous with their time and their homes for their kids friends. The trend now is to have sleep overs at their friends homes. When I was a kid (admittedly a while back) sleep overs were for special occasions or perhaps a little more often when we were teens. It seems every weekend some kid wants my kid to sleep over. I let them sometimes, but then I know I will have to return the favour. Again, on a weekend which is family time.

I do treat the kids and their friends every once in a while to movies and an after noon at the swimming pool. It gets a bit expensive though.

jenngreenleaf
03-27-2006, 02:00 AM
Jenn, thanks for the hug. And moving sounds like a great idea to me lol!


You're welcome! Here's another one:
:Hug2:
Yeah, moving is what's helping me -- but, remember, I said it was only a temporary solution. It seems like people who make us feel guilty are all over the place.

kikazaru
03-27-2006, 02:01 AM
Lol Terri, it's not the Christianity part (my kids are in a Catholic school and despite the gasps of surprise from the congregation, I do go to my inlaws church on special occasions (I wear a hat to hide my horns though! ;) ) I am Canadian and while I will talk religion on a msg board and even seek it out because I enjoy the debates, it is a very rare thing for anyone to even talk about their faith to relative strangers, let alone witness. It is considered rather impolite here and an infringment of personal space. Now I just feel awkward with her which makes me irritated cause not only do I feel guilty over not having her kids over enough, now I feel guilty because I had to decline such a personal offer.

It's really enough to drive me to drink! :rant:

Danger Jane
03-27-2006, 02:12 AM
I get along most of the time with my parents, but the hospitality thing can be a pain. Not so much with the other kids my age, but with the little kids and their families, the yuppie mentality is strong. My little sister must go to a birthday party every two weeks, and the only one that was actually at someone's house was her own. It seems so strange to me that these kids think of a party as a day where you run around an indoor playground for an hour and leave with twenty dollars of presents. I just had friends over and gave them cake and maybe pretty pencils. It seems like the parties are for the parents to compare how much people spend. Yuppies, ech.

kikazaru
03-27-2006, 02:24 AM
Nancy I don't think it's because they are tryint to outdo each other, it's because it's much easier to have it else where. I have all my kids birthdays at the local pool. The reasoning behind it is my house is small, all the mess is left in the pool's party room, if the kids are swimming I don't need to plan activities and the parents are aware of a set time to drop off and pick up their kids. My kids have been to BDparties at homes where I've talked to the parents after, and even though the invitation said from 2 to 4pm some of the kids weren't picked up for 2 hours later. Although I agree with you on the loot bags, it is silly. My kids have been to parties where the loot bag they've come home with is easily 15 dollars. I dont go to crazy - I buy each kid a movie pass and a chocolate bar. This way it's something they can use and there isn't little bits of useless crap littering the house for days after.

Carole
03-27-2006, 03:23 AM
It does get easier, so to speak. Harder, too. Trust me. One day you'll wake up and ache for the days when you *had* to be involved in every detail of their lives. It's difficult not being needed much. You have to wait for the times when you are wanted, instead. As they get older, those times get much fewer and farther between.

And realizing that I believe I misunderstood your original question, there is this to add:

Dont' feel bad about declining invitations. Hubby and I have this standard thing that everyone we know eventually understood. We aren't the most social people on the planet. More often than not, we don't accept invitations out. Everyone knows that anyone is welcome here, but they also know that we don't participate in much outside the home. That's just who we are. After it sunk in, no one was offended. In fact, we're just the quirky parents of Dan and Seth who never go anywhere, but who will always feed anyone's kids.

Did I misunderstand again? GOOD LORD maybe I just need a drink.

PattiTheWicked
03-27-2006, 03:30 AM
It's hard to find that perfect balance between "get the kids out of the house" and "keep 'em home for family time." The younger two here are in kindergarten, while the oldest is in 8th grade, so we have a wide range of friends coming and going. I've learned that once in a while I have to say, "You know, today's not a good day for so-and-so to come over and play. Maybe we could do it Tuesday instead." You owe yourself the right to say no, and your kids aren't going to turn into horrible people just because you won't let Little Jimmy eat dinner over at your house a fifth time this week.

That having been said, most of my kids parents' are good people and I don't mind having them or their children in my home. My eldest has one friend whom I adore whose parents absolutely hate me and miss no opportunity to say nasty things about me. This is because they think I called Childrens' Services on them. Of course, they liked me just fine when their daughter needed rides to go somewhere or a place to stay on the weekend when they went out of town....

kikazaru
03-27-2006, 04:22 AM
Lol don't worry about it Carole, we'll just have that drink together.

I think the crux of the matter is that like you and your husband, we are not particularily social either. Don't get me wrong I enjoy going out, and meeting friends, but I never just drop in on someone, and I really am appalled when they just drop in on me. I like planning and preparation and this may also be at the heart of my guilt problem - kids are spontaneous and don't understand this need I have to be prepared not only housewise, but mentally as well.

Patti, that must be so awkward for your eldests friend. Although it sounds like the kid is at an age where they can separate their parents behaviour from his/herself.

reph
03-27-2006, 06:13 AM
...I am Canadian and...it is a very rare thing for anyone to even talk about their faith to relative strangers, let alone witness. It is considered rather impolite here and an infringment of personal space....now I feel guilty because I had to decline such a personal offer.
Many people here in the U.S. also consider it impolite. I see no reason for you to feel guilty. The woman was presuming when she intimated that you needed to learn about Christianity by attending her church.

And, on another subtopic, children's birthday parties didn't always include gifts for the guests. I don't know when that started or why. Formerly, guests brought gifts for the birthday child. A gift might pass in the other direction if another child got a prize for winning a game, and then it would be a small prize. What do kids who get something for going to a party think they're being honored for?

Carole
03-27-2006, 06:19 AM
That's a new one for me too, Reph. There were times when we put together treat bags for guests with things like candy and small toys like jacks or bubbles, but gifts all the way around? That's a bit much.

Shadow_Ferret
03-28-2006, 08:06 AM
I think we used to give out gift bags when I was a child. That's like *cough*inthe60s*cough* so I don't know why you think the gift bag idea is new.

As far as people approaching you about their faith, most of the Lutheran churches I've been forced to attend have signs as you leave saying "You are now entering the mission field." Many of strong faith feel it is their duty to "spread the word."

And I've never felt obligated to reciprocate having someone else's child over simply because they had the lack of good sense to invite mine to their place. :)

reph
03-28-2006, 08:12 AM
I think we used to give out gift bags when I was a child. That's like *cough*inthe60s*cough* so I don't know why you think the gift bag idea is new.
Well, I wasn't born in the *cough* '60s. It might depend on where you lived, too. Maybe gifts for birthday guests are an urban custom.

Shadow_Ferret
03-28-2006, 08:50 AM
You didn't have to cough. I was the one trying to hide my age. ;)

reph
03-28-2006, 09:05 AM
You didn't have to cough.
Don't think you're the only one who was born in *cough* some decade or other!

Shwebb
03-28-2006, 10:14 AM
Kika, I know what you mean. I HATE drop-ins! I hate surprises! (I hate 'em so much that, unbeknownst to my husband, I am always able to find out in advance what he has gotten me every year for Christmas. Shh!) When I'm not expecting anyone, my house is usually a wreck--even five minutes after I cleaned it, it seems--my clothes look like I dug through the Goodwill rejects, and I generally am not wearing a bra. (Not a pretty sight, trust me.) I've even dove behind the sofa if someone is knocking at the door, because the door-knockers can see into the living room if he/she would want to.

Oh, yeah, I'm pretty reclusive. I try not to be for my kids' sakes, because they are so social. My four-year-old son walks up to someone, puts out his hand, and says, "Hi, I'm Ethan! What's your name?" He's in preschool, and already I'm feeling the pressure of "perfect mom syndrome." I don't want to be the weird mom, but I think I already am. I'm shy at first, and some people take that to be that I'm standoffish, unfortunately.

My fantasy would be that we would get a big, rambling house with tons of room and a very large, fenced yard where the kids could be secure with room to play. Alas, like you, our house is tiny. Although we think that we can get the basement fixed for an extra bedroom and a family/media/guest room. Since we've been discussing moving, we haven't made any improvements on the house, and I'm afraid of people coming in and judging us based on the shape of our house. We have our kids' events elsewhere, too--except for Eleri's birthday, we had a cookout outside on July 4 (her birthday is the 2nd).

There are a few people who come over. One friend with young kids around the same age as mine just almost begged to come over! But that's just as much for us as for getting the kids together. The kids just all have at it with the toys and games; nothing structured. If we take them outside, we just try to keep them corralled in the yard best we can. As engaging as Ethan is, I have never had a mom speak to me about him visiting for a play date. I don't know if they have many play dates in our rural area, if someone else is waiting for me to extend an invitation, or if I and my family qualify as pariah status.

As far as the church invite incident, I'd pretend it never happened. I'm sure they will, too.

But don't worry about the score-keeping thing. Some parents probably will keep score, some won't.

I'm glad you posted this thread. Now I don't feel so bad about how I feel about the whole dadblamed thing!

Godfather
03-28-2006, 11:42 AM
How old are you and why do you get along so well? Maybe I could learn something from you.

Waiting eagerly,

Terri


im 16,
maybe its because i have such a guilty conscience (sp?)
i know how much they've done for me and all that,
and it just aint right in my eyes.

my cousin/friend can be pretty cruel to her mom,
and i just dont get it man.

if i get p*ssed off, i just go out.

Unique
03-28-2006, 04:04 PM
Shwebb - you are not alone....:D

Godfather - um, could you give my kid some lessons?

Yeshanu
03-28-2006, 05:13 PM
Yeshanu I feel guilty because I say "no" way more than I say "yes." I say "yes" when I just can't in all good concience say no anymore. I want my kids in extracurricular sports activities (which they do enjoy most of the time) but it limits their time with friends of their choosing. Hence the guilt over saying no.


Fair enough, but you don't need to feel guilty. They aren't too young to learn that every choice we make has consequences, and that even fun things have a price beyond the cost in money. In your case, if the kids got upset when I said no (and you haven't indicated that they are upset), I'd just tell them that a family needs quiet time together, and if they're involved in so many other things, then you need to limit the times they have friends over.

I can tell you two things from hindsight: In far too few years, you'll be looking at your teens/young adults, and wishing for the time when you had to drive them everywhere.

And when you get to that point, if you stand firm on having family time every week, you'll be really, really glad you did. I have a 20-year-old and three teens (one is a ward), and we still sit down together as a family for dinner no less often than twice every week. I won't say it's the only reason my kids still talk to me and don't cause any trouble, but it's sure one of the reasons.

It sounds to me like you're doing a great job with your kids, kikazaru. Keep it up!

kikazaru
03-28-2006, 05:16 PM
"And I've never felt obligated to reciprocate having someone else's child over simply because they had the lack of good sense to invite mine to their place"

Lol Shadow Ferret! I'm going to try to think that way from now on!

Ha Swcheb we are kindred spirits! My house always looks like it was turned upside down and shaken. But, but.. you have a basement??? *sniffle* No basement in my palace, no garage and no backyard. We bought the house for the view - but the kids don't care about a view.

Still giggling at you diving behind the sofa, but really, why should you have to wear your good clothes and a bra in your own home? People should always phone first before they come over, it's only good manners.

I've come to accept that my kids are going to think their mom is weird, it will make for great stories when they are older and other kids talk about their normal moms. It will increase their cache, and contribute something of interest to the conversation..."Your mom baked cookies and belonged to the PTA? My mom wandered around the house in sweat pants, mismatched socks, ferocious bed head, and make up on only one eye, because the voices in her head needed to be written down before she could finish putting on her face. She then went to the grocery store like that..." Hmmm come to think on it perhaps that's why that woman thought I needed an intro to Christianity - I looked possessed!! ;)

I'm glad I made you feel better. I just wished that along with the flood of maternal feelings we recieved after delivery, someone would have said that "feeling guilty about everything," would be arriving shortly after.

Motherhood - it's not for sissies or the faint of heart.

Yeshanu
03-28-2006, 05:23 PM
I've come to accept that my kids are going to think their mom is weird, it will make for great stories when they are older and other kids talk about their normal moms.

I've never met a kid who thinks s/he has a normal mom...

I always made sure my kids knew from the get-go that I wasn't normal, and didn't consider "normal" to be a compliment...


..."Your mom baked cookies and belonged to the PTA? My mom wandered around the house in sweat pants, mismatched socks, ferocious bed head, and make up on only one eye, because the voices in her head needed to be written down before she could finish putting on her face. She then went to the grocery store like that..." Hmmm come to think on it perhaps that's why that woman thought I needed an intro to Christianity - I looked possessed!! http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/images/smilies/wink.gif


:ROFL:

Thanks. I needed that.

SC Harrison
03-28-2006, 05:30 PM
Many people here in the U.S. also consider it impolite. I see no reason for you to feel guilty. The woman was presuming when she intimated that you needed to learn about Christianity by attending her church.




This has happened to me so many times I've lost count. I just smile and say, "Maybe I will!"

It is presumptious and impolite, but that doesn't stop them.

Torin
03-28-2006, 05:31 PM
My kids are 8 and 10 - someone pls tell me it gets better when they are older.

Nope. LOL. My two still at home are 20 and 13 and my house is often full of kids/young adults. I'm lucky, in that my house is enormous and it's not a problem if there is a herd of young people here. When my 13 year old goes to the club, it's not unusual for three or more of her friends to sleep over here. On the other hand, she seldom goes to their homes and it never occurs to me that there should be a balance. I have the room and the mindset to cope with large numbers of kids; other parents don't. So try not to feel guilty that you can't reciprocate. Chances are that the other parents don't really care one way or the other, and are just as happy to have their kids' friends at their house where they can keep an eye on what's going on. (One of my reasons for filling my house with random children).

As for the invitation to church, it's fine to say "No, thank you. I'm comfortable with my spirituality." and don't elaborate. :)

Chris

Jaycinth
03-28-2006, 07:12 PM
I think we used to give out gift bags when I was a child. That's like *cough*inthe60s*cough* so I don't know why you think the gift bag idea is new..................
And I've never felt obligated to reciprocate having someone else's child over simply because they had the lack of good sense to invite mine to their place. :)
No, gift bags are not new, they are not old, they just are. And, as of last birthday party I still had to give them out, but I themed them to the party. 4 nice 13 year old girls and a 10 year old...they got 'nail care kits' that I put together. Then they spent two hours putting on makeup, talking about how ugly Orlando Bloom and Sean Astin are..(Almost as ugly as Daniel Radcliff, it seems. I wonder why they keep the posters on the walls...must give them nightmares.....).

In the past the gift bags have had school supplies, hair things, and stuff. I try to avoid candy as having a dozen energetic kids hyped up on candy in addition to icecream and fruit juice is my idea of a particularly disagreeable he**.

As far as the reciprocating in visits, my house is teenie tiny and not always peaceful. When it has become 'my turn' I try to take the kids iceskating, to movies, the zoo, museums, pool, etc....that impresses the 'yuppie' moms as I am taking time to spend time with the kids, as opposed to dropping them off, or better yet inviting a flock over then taking off and leaving the group in charge of a housekeeper. Ok for them, I guess.

I'm lucky in that many of my friends had kids about the same time as I, we are all in the same school district, so my kids are good frineds withthe kids of my friends so until middle-school my kids hung around with mostly neighborhood folk. Although they'd troop through my house regularly, eating anything that was visible, I didn't have to socialize much beyond hanging over the fence with people I didn't want to.

With parents I don't enjoy, I espouse political views that I think will 'offend' them, and they tend to leave me alone.

Which leads me to think about the birthday party this year. . .she wants a band, you see. . . .

oswann
03-28-2006, 08:55 PM
My wife just told me she's invited the family for Easter. Translation - she's invited her brothers and sister with a dozen or so kids under four feet tall, freaking out on sugar, to come and trash our house.


Everyone has their problems.
Os.

jackie106
03-28-2006, 10:46 PM
I've never met a kid who thinks s/he has a normal mom...


Except for the occasional fight, I always got along really well with my mom. And she was a lot prettier than most of my friends mothers.

I guess I was just lucky, but definitely not normal.

Jackie

Godfather
03-29-2006, 12:00 AM
unique,
i charge 5 bucks an hour,

but can you put a price on your happiness?

call me on 1800-icanmakeyourchildrespectyoulikeyoualwayswantedandc onyouatthesametime

Unique
03-29-2006, 12:19 AM
I dialed your number. That wasn't you. He was speaking Japanese and talking about kool-aid.

I feel gypped. I don't speak Japanese. :(