Etiquette Hell

General Etiquette => Family and Children => Topic started by: Take2 on April 02, 2013, 10:06:59 PM

Title: How do I facilitate my child's friendship when I distrust the friend's parent?
Post by: Take2 on April 02, 2013, 10:06:59 PM
My daughter, A, is in elementary school. A has become close friends with a little girl, B, who is delightful. We have had her over to play. The problem is that her parent, in our brief exchanges so far, has given me some huge red flags about ever leaving my child in that person's care. A loves B and wants to grow the friendship. I am willing to interact with this parent at destinations we both attend with the kids and willing to have B come over to my house. I think B is a good friend for A and vice versa, and B's family agrees. But how do I allow A to foster a relationship with B without being mean, when I am not comfortable letting A go to B's house?

Also, I am concerned that I may appear to be judging the family based on some traditional prejudice hot-points, when really my concerns are completely about the mental health and stability of the parent. But I can't very well explain my real concerns, how do I avoid looking like a jerk?
Title: Re: How do I facilitate my child's friendship when I distrust the friend's parent?
Post by: kitchcat on April 02, 2013, 11:15:56 PM
These red flags, I'm assuming they are safety concerns? Or are they just general lifestyle choices that you disagree with?

If it's not safety related, I'd just bean dip. If it is safety related, you might have to address it more directly for the sake of your daughter's friend.
Title: Re: How do I facilitate my child's friendship when I distrust the friend's parent?
Post by: delabela on April 02, 2013, 11:20:04 PM
If your concerns are the parent, then maybe you can just continue to invite B to your home or events that are in public.  If A is invited to B's home, can you just say that you are over-protective and prefer she play at your home?  Not that I think you're being over-protective, but more making it about you instead of B's parent. 
Title: Re: How do I facilitate my child's friendship when I distrust the friend's parent?
Post by: sweetonsno on April 03, 2013, 12:46:43 AM
Continue to invite B over to your house and to outings in public. If B's family invites A over to play, could you perhaps see if you can come along so you can keep half an eye out? If your concerns are founded and the home is not a safe environment (for whatever reason), you can decline further invitations. On the other hand, if it turns out that the home is totally safe (there's another parent/guardian around or the mental health issue isn't the problem you thought it would be), you might be okay with letting A go over there.

I also agree with kitchcat. Depending on what the issues are, it might be worth mentioning them.
Title: Re: How do I facilitate my child's friendship when I distrust the friend's parent?
Post by: Sheila Take a Bow on April 03, 2013, 02:01:39 AM
I was in a similar situation a couple of years ago (my daughter's friend's mother has a substance abuse issue). I would not let my daughter go to her friend's house but I continued to socialize with the family in public places like the park.

There were some awkward moments when I would decline invitations to their house, but I prioritized my daughter's well-being over both the mother's feelings and the friendship between my daughter and her friend. It was a hard choice because we love the girl, but I had to put my daughter's well-being first.

(In the end, it worked out that my daughter and her friend spent some time apart but are now the best of friends again. But that's another story altogether.)
Title: Re: How do I facilitate my child's friendship when I distrust the friend's parent?
Post by: bonyk on April 03, 2013, 04:24:50 AM
I would probably just tell the family that I am very protective and will not let my child have play dates away from me. 
Title: Re: How do I facilitate my child's friendship when I distrust the friend's parent?
Post by: weeblewobble on April 03, 2013, 06:16:22 AM
Arrange play dates for public places like the library, the movies, fast food playgrounds, parks, and museums.  Host your daughter's friend at your house, but find strategic reasons why your child can't go to her friends.  I think you have to trust your instincts when it comes to trusting people with your kids.
Title: Re: How do I facilitate my child's friendship when I distrust the friend's parent?
Post by: RebeccainGA on April 03, 2013, 08:03:53 AM
My mom, who is mostly raising my niece, has the same issue with the little girl across the street. Sweet girl, parents seem reasonably loving and all but make some lifestyle choices (smoking, loud but good natured arguments in front of the kids) that make mom a bit nervous. She's got it established with them that 90% of the time, the girls play either at mom's house, or somewhere else (a park, for example). The few times that niece is over across the street, it's daylight hours, for short periods of time, and mom is very careful to make sure she walks niece over to see that things are as they should be before she leaves.

It's hard when then parents don't have the same values as you in terms of health and safety issues. You can compromise some, if you feel that you are safe doing so, but trust your gut. Also, consider that you may be doing this little girl a huge favor, developmentally, by modeling more socially acceptable behavior, so she knows that her family isn't the norm - she may be able to make choices more clearly as she grows up when the societal norm and her family norm are in conflict, knowing that there IS room for variation.

Good luck!
Title: Re: How do I facilitate my child's friendship when I distrust the friend's parent?
Post by: Take2 on April 03, 2013, 08:26:36 AM
I can't tell the family that I am over-protective, as it would clearly be a lie and this hyper-vigilant parent would notice. B already knows that A is allowed to go to other children's house for playdates, because they have talked about it. A will continue to have playdates and discuss them with B, who is her friend and seatmate.

This family has been through real trauma and I feel sympathy for them, though I was uncomfortable being offered documentation of that trauma by a near-stranger. In response to that trauma, the parent seems to have gone overboard protective, to the point of perceiving several abduction attempts by strangers that were probably imagined and training a first grader to use weapons in self defense. I would hate to cause offense, and I think offense will easily be taken. The concern is the parent's mental stability, so I can't mention the concern to the parent. I don't think the parent would harm my child, I believe the parent would go to extreme lengths to protect any child. But I am uneasy about leaving my child in the care of someone whose perceptions of reality seem unreliable, and I am concerned with the over-sharing of traumatic stories with small children.

Sheila, how did you manage to decline reciprocal invitations without causing offense? Did you tell the mother the real reasons? Did you tell you child? Was your child old enough to be tactful and not repeat your reasons to the friend and parent?

Because I am a fairly laid-back parent and because I really want my child to be exposed to true diversity as much as possible, I never thought I would have this sort of problem. Also, this child reminds me of me as a child, and I know that outside stable adults changed the course of my life for the better, I do want to help this girl.
Title: Re: How do I facilitate my child's friendship when I distrust the friend's parent?
Post by: Hillia on April 03, 2013, 09:35:43 AM
If the other family has weapons in the house, I think that's a valid point.  'We're not comfortable with Daughter being around weapons'.  It's true, it's not judging their choices, and it makes a solid point. 
Title: Re: How do I facilitate my child's friendship when I distrust the friend's parent?
Post by: Sheila Take a Bow on April 03, 2013, 11:12:44 AM
Sheila, how did you manage to decline reciprocal invitations without causing offense? Did you tell the mother the real reasons? Did you tell you child? Was your child old enough to be tactful and not repeat your reasons to the friend and parent?

I'm afraid that I did cause some offense with the other mom.  But I decided that hurt feelings were the least of that mom's problems at that point.

I didn't tell the mom my real reasons -- I basically just claimed I was really busy.  I didn't think I could have a productive conversation about why, especially since she was likely to be in deep denial of her problem.

My daughter had just turned 3 at the time, so she was too young to understand what was happening, so I just told her that she couldn't go over there but then I'd plan a play date at the park and that was enough to keep my daughter happy.
Title: Re: How do I facilitate my child's friendship when I distrust the friend's parent?
Post by: bah12 on April 03, 2013, 11:21:00 AM
I think that you continue to arrange for playdates where both of you and B's parents will be present.  It allows for A and B to grow their friendship and for you to get to know B's parents better.  In time, you may be comforted that they can care for A.  Maybe you won't.  But, I think that you get to know them and make the decision to leave A with them only when you're comfortable (if ever).

And I think that's just parenting 101.  Just because my DD may like another child, doesn't automatically mean that I have to be comfortable leaving her in the care of that child's parents (or them with me) if I don't know them.  Just because the red flags aren't visible right at the onset, doesn't mean that they don't exist.  So, with anyone new, get to know the parents and get some level of comfort with them.  I would also expect (and wouldnt' be offended by) a parent that I don't know to want to get to know me before leaving their child in my care. 
Title: Re: How do I facilitate my child's friendship when I distrust the friend's parent?
Post by: EllenS on April 03, 2013, 05:48:16 PM
What about non-dropoff playdates?  If you and the other parent don't know each other well, if your child is invited to their house, could you suggest a time for you to go with and have coffee or something, with the parent or parents?

I live in a part of the country where gun ownership is common, and if I had concerns about a parent not keeping their weapons in a safe place, I would talk about it directly. "Listen, I know you have trained B to handle a weapon, but A has never had that training.  Can we talk about what safety measures you use at home?"

Any serious or responsible owner of a weapon for home defense would not be offended, but think better of you for asking.  I realize mental stability is a concern, but maybe if you spend some time in the home also, you might find a comfort level - or you might get rid of your qualms about forbidding your child to play there.
Title: Re: How do I facilitate my child's friendship when I distrust the friend's parent?
Post by: *inviteseller on April 03, 2013, 06:58:03 PM
I seem to be the parent that everyone trusts to just do drop and run, while I play 20 questions.  There are some kids my older DD NEVER went to play dates at, but I welcomed the child into my house...the mom who screeched at her kids, the dad who only wore a pair of shorts and nothing else and just kinda set off a bad vibe, the mom who liked her prescription drugs just a bit too much, nope.  And when prescription Patty asked me why my DD never came over to her house, I just said because we had a yard and more room (house v apt) it just seemed easier to have her DD at my house.  She bought it.  Can you set up a mutual playdate for both kids and mom to sort of get a feel for her thoughts and just see where she might be at mentally ? 
Title: Re: How do I facilitate my child's friendship when I distrust the friend's parent?
Post by: mmswm on April 03, 2013, 09:39:26 PM
If there are weapons in the house that provides you with a perfect excuse, and I say this as a gun-toting, card-carrying member of the NRA. You can simply say that you are uncomfortable around weapons and while you just know that they keep theirs safely locked up, it's a hang up of yours and you just can't get past it.

Title: Re: How do I facilitate my child's friendship when I distrust the friend's parent?
Post by: Take2 on April 03, 2013, 11:20:15 PM
Conveniently enough, I actually am somewhat terrified of guns. I am not really sure if guns are involved, though. The weapons training and focus appears to be primarily knives. B's father told me he is always armed wherever he goes. In some parts of the world, that would seem reasonable, so I will throw out there that we live in a quiet suburb where most of the kids have never seen a bike lock and all the police activity is traffic tickets.
Title: Re: How do I facilitate my child's friendship when I distrust the friend's parent?
Post by: *inviteseller on April 04, 2013, 07:22:35 AM
I feel for this little girl, being brought up in a world of fear.  Just keep having the girl to your house and don't be afraid to tell the parents that you understand they feel the need for the weaponry, but you are uncomfortable with them. 
Title: Re: How do I facilitate my child's friendship when I distrust the friend's parent?
Post by: peaches on April 04, 2013, 08:37:40 AM
I would just keep inviting the little girl over to play, or meeting the parent and child at neutral locations, and not bother to explain why. It's what's best for your child, and that trumps any awkwardness that will result.

Title: Re: How do I facilitate my child's friendship when I distrust the friend's parent?
Post by: Take2 on April 04, 2013, 09:42:25 AM
I agree about feeling for B! Some of this child's matter-of-fact pronouncements to me about life would make you cry. She is a gentle and kind little girl, hungry for affection and safety. My basic assumption that nothing bad is likely to happen seems to intrigue her. She also clearly envies that A has four parents (in two homes, but that is how A expresses her two re-married parents and our spouses), and B only has a single father. I hope that I can find the balance to allow these kids to grow their friendship as long as they like, and I would love to give this child another vision of life just by making her welcome here, if that can work out.
Title: Re: How do I facilitate my child's friendship when I distrust the friend's parent?
Post by: *inviteseller on April 04, 2013, 11:04:25 AM
I would be careful talking with the girl about her way of thinking (or her fathers) vs your own.  I feel for the dad too..he obviously has some issues that need to be worked out before he totally damages his child with his fears.
Title: Re: How do I facilitate my child's friendship when I distrust the friend's parent?
Post by: EllenS on April 04, 2013, 11:49:41 AM
Well, even that is a fine line.  You mentioned that there was some kind of tragedy or trauma involved.  While the dad may be over-reacting or have boundary issues, giving his child self-defense training might not be totally crazy.

I am thinking, for example, of a domestic violence situation, or one in which the other parent's family or known associates may be volatile/dangerous.  It is difficult to judge from the outside what is irrational.

It's not a "typical" situation with a single dad, but for example there are women with kids who have fled an abusive spouse who stalks them.  What is a good, sane parent to do in that situation?  Give the kids up for adoption, or live in a state of heightened vigilance that seems "crazy" to other people?
Title: Re: How do I facilitate my child's friendship when I distrust the friend's parent?
Post by: Take2 on April 04, 2013, 12:40:23 PM
To clarify, I would not ever confront child or parent about their lifeview. I was only thinking that I experienced some very different lifeviews as a child, and while nobody talked to me about them, I think the variety helped to expand my horizons and offer different options for ways to approach/think about things. It is far outside my place to tell this child anything about how she ought to think or feel, or her dad.

Ellen, you hit the nail on the head. This situation does seem very similar to the kind of situation you described. Thanks to some extreme over-sharing, I know far more details about it than it is reasonable for me to know, and it isn't pretty. I can completely understand how the father came to this heightened level of security, and I admire his dedication to his child even as I doubt I would trust my own child to his care. That is one reason I want to tread so lightly, I would hate to hurt these people who are already so wounded. But I don't think it is either/or here. It is possible to live in a situation where self-defense is reasonable for the child AND over-react and have boundary issues in result of the trauma that made self-defense training reasonable.
Title: Re: How do I facilitate my child's friendship when I distrust the friend's parent?
Post by: EllenS on April 04, 2013, 01:20:21 PM
But I don't think it is either/or here. It is possible to live in a situation where self-defense is reasonable for the child AND over-react and have boundary issues in result of the trauma that made self-defense training reasonable.

Agree 100%.  That makes it so tough to balance the interaction.  I think if you feel your heart open to this child, you would do well to stay involved with both of them, and if possible have your spouse and your daughter's dad in the picture as well. (I'm thinking in terms of having them around when hosting her, have Dad take your child to visit B sometimes, etc.)  Just because people who overshare and are wounded, can form overly-intense emotional attachments as well, and you don't want the dad latching onto you and only you as a confidante.

I think there is no reason to avoid having your daughter be friends with this girl, as long as you are aware it will not be a low-maintenance deal, and that you have to be the one to model good boundaries.
Title: Re: How do I facilitate my child's friendship when I distrust the friend's parent?
Post by: JaneJensen on April 04, 2013, 01:37:38 PM
I think people kinda had this problem with ME when my kids were smaller. I have a pool, as do at least 60% of the rest of the people in this town- southwest region of the country. So it's not uncommon to have one, but in my case I chose not to fence mine. I'm sure this was the reason we got invited to other people's houses and to the park A LOT.  People are hyper vigilant about pool fences and I guess probably just didn't trust me to watch their kids around water. It was cool. I mean, I was initially annoyed, but then it worked out that I wasn't the house that the kids always flocked to. Who wants to host the entire neighborhood of kids all the time anyway?

I only had one mom tell me that if the kids were going to be swimming she wanted to be there to watch her child. She was nice and not judgmental about it, and I was like- sure! Come on over! .

Anyway, In answer to your question, if there's that much going on in the household as you say, the mom might be mildly annoyed like I was about hosting  and who knows, with as much as you say she has going on, she might be relieved to not have kids over at the house. I'd be polite, tactful and generally truthful.
Title: Re: How do I facilitate my child's friendship when I distrust the friend's parent?
Post by: johelenc1 on April 07, 2013, 11:02:06 PM
I'm trying to figure out how you train a 6 year old to defend herself with knives.

I think staying over with your child for playdates there (or sending dad or step-dad) or continuing to invite A to your house are the best ideas. 

Also, without more information and details, I am personally concerned about a little girl being in the care of only one parent with questionable mental stability who has trained her to defend herself with knives.  Even the fact that it's knives is odd to me.  I would think that in terms of vigilance and personal safety, a knife would be an odd choice.  Maybe it actually says a lot about his stability and rational thinking.

 
Title: Re: How do I facilitate my child's friendship when I distrust the friend's parent?
Post by: Calistoga on April 08, 2013, 01:04:37 PM
Hmm. Knives. That's an odd one. My mother taught me to defend myself very early, but not with a weapon...she didn't give me any kind of weapon training until I was 11. She taught me kick-bite-scream type stuff.

You might just say "We don't let A stay over at other peoples houses right now." You don't have to say why, they can decide for themselves.

Title: Re: How do I facilitate my child's friendship when I distrust the friend's parent?
Post by: TurtleDove on April 08, 2013, 02:12:08 PM
I may have missed this, but why does the OP believe the parent is of questionable mental stability?  From what I can gather, there was a traumatic event and he is saftey conscious perhaps more than others, but I don't see "mental instability." 
Title: Re: How do I facilitate my child's friendship when I distrust the friend's parent?
Post by: violinp on April 08, 2013, 02:29:16 PM
I may have missed this, but why does the OP believe the parent is of questionable mental stability?  From what I can gather, there was a traumatic event and he is saftey conscious perhaps more than others, but I don't see "mental instability."

Letting a kindergartener/first grader age kid around a real knife would make me very nervous. I was not allowed to even look at my dad's guns until I was 9 or 10 years old, and my dad has never even had ammo for them (purely collector's pieces, most of them). Plus, a situation could get completely out of hand because of said knife.

I have no problem with teaching a kid of that age how to hunt, but having the child carry around a deadly weapon at all times? That troubles me greatly.
Title: Re: How do I facilitate my child's friendship when I distrust the friend's parent?
Post by: TurtleDove on April 08, 2013, 02:49:25 PM
I have no problem with teaching a kid of that age how to hunt, but having the child carry around a deadly weapon at all times? That troubles me greatly.

I understood that the father carries a weapon at all times and is training his daughter to defend herself with a knife, not that the daughter is carrying a knife at all times (or ever).  I can see that some people would choose not to train their children to defend themselves in that way, but I don't think it signals mental instability.  Depending upon what actually happened, and whether there is a legitimate reason to believe the child may need to defend herself, I don't find the father's seemingly hyper vigilance is unwarranted.  There are people who are paranoid, and then there are people who have legitimate reasons to fear for their safety.
Title: Re: How do I facilitate my child's friendship when I distrust the friend's parent?
Post by: Twik on April 08, 2013, 02:58:19 PM
I cannot believe that a 6 year old could effectively defend herself with a knife against any sort of real threat. I could, however, believe that a 6 year old might believe that she was an infant ninja, and become a danger to herself and her playmates.

And, if she's NOT carrying a knife around at all times, the training is pretty worthless. "Oh, shoot, I could totally stop this attack with my L33T knife skills; except I left my knife at home. Darn."
Title: Re: How do I facilitate my child's friendship when I distrust the friend's parent?
Post by: TurtleDove on April 08, 2013, 03:03:19 PM
Well, I have my permit to carry and I know how to shoot a gun and train regularly.  While the government has said I am proficient enough, I do not carry because I am still training and am not to the level of competency I would want to be to carry.  I think there is value in training children from a young age to do just about anything.  The fact that she is training to use a knife for protection does not mean that she regularly, or even ever, carries a knife.  Yet.  I don't think training is worthless unless you are carrying a knife at all times.  I think you have to train if you ever want to carry a knife at all. 

And again, to clarify, I am not advocating training children in using knives.  I am simply pointing out that in these specific circumstances there may be legitimacy to the father's reasoning, as opposed to mental instability.
Title: Re: How do I facilitate my child's friendship when I distrust the friend's parent?
Post by: Jones on April 08, 2013, 03:26:55 PM
My daughter doesn't carry a knife, but she has a good idea how to use one. She also has a good idea how to use random objects, like keys, to defend herself. She will start self defense lessons at age 8, which is the minimum age at our local dojos. We made these decisions as she is naturally timid and has become very empowered as she's learned.

That said, I would hate for someone to feel uncomfortable with thie knowledge that their child was in my home, for any reason. If my child and their child got along, but there was a difference of opinion regarding security levels, then I think that I too would prefer neutral location playdates.
Title: Re: How do I facilitate my child's friendship when I distrust the friend's parent?
Post by: Calistoga on April 08, 2013, 04:00:38 PM
I doubt the parents have mental issues. They're just doing something the OP finds unorthodox and potentially dangerous to her child. Which is fair.

OP, how well do you know the parents? Have you guys spent much time together? Maybe get to know them more. You might find out they're very responsible people.
Title: Re: How do I facilitate my child's friendship when I distrust the friend's parent?
Post by: TurtleDove on April 08, 2013, 04:02:06 PM
I doubt the parents have mental issues. They're just doing something the OP finds unorthodox and potentially dangerous to her child. Which is fair.

OP, how well do you know the parents? Have you guys spent much time together? Maybe get to know them more. You might find out they're very responsible people.

Well stated.  I think the OP can absolutely make whatever decisions for her child she wishes to make.  I think it is a stretch to say this father has mental issues based on what the OP has told us.
Title: Re: How do I facilitate my child's friendship when I distrust the friend's parent?
Post by: Sharnita on April 08, 2013, 06:53:36 PM
I can't tell the family that I am over-protective, as it would clearly be a lie and this hyper-vigilant parent would notice. B already knows that A is allowed to go to other children's house for playdates, because they have talked about it. A will continue to have playdates and discuss them with B, who is her friend and seatmate.

This family has been through real trauma and I feel sympathy for them, though I was uncomfortable being offered documentation of that trauma by a near-stranger. In response to that trauma, the parent seems to have gone overboard protective, to the point of perceiving several abduction attempts by strangers that were probably imagined and training a first grader to use weapons in self defense. I would hate to cause offense, and I think offense will easily be taken. The concern is the parent's mental stability, so I can't mention the concern to the parent. I don't think the parent would harm my child, I believe the parent would go to extreme lengths to protect any child. But I am uneasy about leaving my child in the care of someone whose perceptions of reality seem unreliable, and I am concerned with the over-sharing of traumatic stories with small children.

Sheila, how did you manage to decline reciprocal invitations without causing offense? Did you tell the mother the real reasons? Did you tell you child? Was your child old enough to be tactful and not repeat your reasons to the friend and parent?

Because I am a fairly laid-back parent and because I really want my child to be exposed to true diversity as much as possible, I never thought I would have this sort of problem. Also, this child reminds me of me as a child, and I know that outside stable adults changed the course of my life for the better, I do want to help this girl.

It sounds like OP does have concerns about mental stability and that the parent is not just training the child after the initial trauma but is claiming multiple traumas/threats.
Title: Re: How do I facilitate my child's friendship when I distrust the friend's parent?
Post by: Allyson on April 08, 2013, 08:32:48 PM
Yes, I didn't get the impression the entire reason for the OP's concerns about stability were based on the weapons training, but the perceived abduction attempts and probably other things not listed here.
Title: Re: How do I facilitate my child's friendship when I distrust the friend's parent?
Post by: Take2 on April 08, 2013, 10:32:13 PM
Allyson is correct.

I think that training a child in self defense is a reasonable choice even where there is no known danger. I think that training a very young child in knife self defense is highly unusual, but not necessarily bad. I think that being hyper-vigilant after experiencing a very traumatic series of events that put your beloved child in danger is normal and could be reasonable. But it is also possible to begin to perceive danger everywhere and become more vigilant than is reasonable.

I am not comfortable quoting every piece of these conversations or describing the exact demeanor and body language, it would feel like I was mocking. The overall impression I got was not one of a totally stable individual. I don't know this parent well, I am not ready to say that my first impression is undeniably accurate and reliable. I will keep an open mind as further interactions allow further opportunity. But I also have to trust my instincts when choosing who can oversee my child in my absence.

I don't think telling this parent that my child isn't allowed to go on playdates is a good plan. These kids discuss their lives, and in reality, my child is allowed to do overnights and playdates. B has never been allowed on a playdate before, being purposefully and obviously dishonest to her parent seems like a good way to make sure she never gains additional age-appropriate freedoms.
Title: Re: How do I facilitate my child's friendship when I distrust the friend's parent?
Post by: cicero on April 09, 2013, 04:53:48 AM

I don't think telling this parent that my child isn't allowed to go on playdates is a good plan. These kids discuss their lives, and in reality, my child is allowed to do overnights and playdates. B has never been allowed on a playdate before, being purposefully and obviously dishonest to her parent seems like a good way to make sure she never gains additional age-appropriate freedoms.
then talk about what you *can* do; not what you *can't* do. don't say "my child isn't allowed to go on playdates", but say "That won't work for us. how about if YourChild and Take2Baby play here on saturday?".

and another thought that came up as i read thru the thread - would you be willing to send your child to a martial arts class? would that be something that they could do together? cause that would be one bird/two stones - shoring up HisChild's self defense training AND having a "thing" that they can do together, not in a home.
Title: Re: How do I facilitate my child's friendship when I distrust the friend's parent?
Post by: bopper on April 09, 2013, 07:45:03 AM
There was just a story on the news about how a 4 year old got a hold of a rifle and accidentally? shot a 6 year old.   If one thinks the friend's family has weapons, one must be confident that they are stored securely if one is to feel confident in letting their child over. 

I think just inviting the child over, and being "busy" when invited to their house is the way to go.
Title: Re: How do I facilitate my child's friendship when I distrust the friend's parent?
Post by: Minmom3 on April 09, 2013, 11:42:49 AM
There was just a story on the news about how a 4 year old got a hold of a rifle and accidentally? shot a 6 year old.   If one thinks the friend's family has weapons, one must be confident that they are stored securely if one is to feel confident in letting their child over. 

I think just inviting the child over, and being "busy" when invited to their house is the way to go.

There's another story yesterday about a 4 year old picking up a loaded gun and shooting a woman and killing her.  A sheriff's deputy was visiting, showing somebody his gun, put the gun on the bed, and the child picked it up and shot HIS WIFE.  All because of carelessness on the part of somebody who was certainly trained to know better than that - he said his 'work' guns were properly locked up, this was a different gun....  If it can happen to somebody (hopefully) well trained, how much easier could such an accident happen in a home where such training had not happened?! 

I entirely agree that keeping my child out of that house would be a high priority for me, and being too busy can be a handy way to avoid it.  Being blunt about the gun situation would possibly ignite neighbor issues that nobody really needs...
Title: Re: How do I facilitate my child's friendship when I distrust the friend's parent?
Post by: mmswm on April 09, 2013, 11:56:51 AM
I don't know if being open would cause issues.  I'm a gun owner and I've had to earn the trust of the parents of my children's friends before they were allowed to stay with me.  I've never had a problem with that.  My general approach to this is to invite the parents over and give them the run of the house to inspect it and find my weapons. I've had a few people find the safe, but nobody's found the ammo, and nobody's been able to crack the safe. That sort of openness in answering all gun safety questions has put most of the other parents at ease.
Title: Re: How do I facilitate my child's friendship when I distrust the friend's parent?
Post by: bloo on April 09, 2013, 02:15:39 PM
This is one of those times where, without mincing words, it's fine to be direct but aiming for peace.

I have a couple of friends that I've bluntly told them that their child can't play with mine for target practice for guns or bow.

We have shotguns, a rifle, a muzzleloader, a crossbow and a compound bow. All used for hunting. We take the owning, storing and using of these weapons seriously and have drilled it into our kids' heads as well as had our entire family take a safety course.

So why can't DS play with little Jimmy (this was when they were 13 or 14)? I saw little Jimmy pick up his rifle and wave it around, including in my direction and when his uncle noticed me getting ready to dive to the ground, he absently told his nephew to quit waving it around. I yelled at Jimmy that he should never, ever, ever, ever point a gun at someone unless he actually planned on shooting them. Jimmy said, "It's not loaded," to which I countered, "There is no such thing as an unloaded gun." Based on that alone, we were NEVER going to allow this kid to be anywhere near us with a weapon.

Then DS told me on the way home that Jimmy accidentally shot him in the throat with his pellet gun.

So I had to call up the whole family (this bunch is like a 50-headed hydra) and explain that since all the adults neglected to properly instruct Jimmy in gun safety, he was never allowed to be anywhere near us with a weapon. The kid just got his own crossbow (shudder). They didn't like it and I didn't care and our kids are not close. Oh well, safety trumps everything.

So OP could say to neighbor, "I'd like to give the girls an opportunity to spend time together at your house but you do X*, which our family is not comfortable with so I'd prefer they spend time together at my house, school or the park. I'm not saying you shouldn't do X, just to be clear."

I'd be a little startled to be told, for example, because we have weapons, a child was not allowed at my house, but NOT offended. Most everyone around these parts has weapons and I'm not the only female here that hunts.

* Even I would have a hard time saying 'my DD can't come because you are mentally unstable'. But if there is a practice going on at their house you are not comfortable with, it's best to focus on that.
Title: Re: How do I facilitate my child's friendship when I distrust the friend's parent?
Post by: Take2 on April 09, 2013, 02:21:47 PM
B is being trained in martial arts as well, by her father. She is not allowed to do extra-curricular activities.

A took a karate class up to her yellow belt last year, then decided soccer is more fun.

I agree that being busy is probably the easiest. We actually are quite busy, so that shouldn't create any bad blood.
Title: Re: How do I facilitate my child's friendship when I distrust the friend's parent?
Post by: Mikayla on April 10, 2013, 11:06:58 AM
I think this thread has become too much about guns, especially with OPs last update, where she says: "The overall impression I got was not one of a totally stable individual."  That's all that matters, because if she asks specific questions about guns or weapons, even if the answer doesn't sound deranged, it seems unlikely it would automatically confer the kind of trust a parent needs. 

OP, the "busy" excuse might work, especially since friendships at this age tend to wax and wane pretty quickly.  Also, on the other playdates and overnights A has, do you know these parents better?  You could mention that you're not comfortable setting them up unless you're pretty familiar with the parents.  This might be a Plan B if the friendship continues over time and you're forced to do or say something.  Obviously, the downside is you'd need to act on that, maybe inviting them all over for a barbecue or something.

I would only bring up the weapon issue if you reach the point where it's your *only" concern.