Author Topic: Help! How can my son politely ask a friend to stop by less often?  (Read 4449 times)

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Winterlight

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Re: Help! How can my son politely ask a friend to stop by less often?
« Reply #45 on: June 16, 2014, 07:01:06 PM »
I was reminded of another thread, where the OP found herself feeding the neighborhood kids to the detriment of her budget and stress levels.

http://www.etiquettehell.com/smf/index.php?topic=130641.0

WhiteLotus had some good suggestions here:

http://www.etiquettehell.com/smf/index.php?topic=130641.msg3038573#msg3038573

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To whom you speak,
Of whom you speak,
And how, and when, and where.
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ArcticChick

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Re: Help! How can my son politely ask a friend to stop by less often?
« Reply #46 on: June 16, 2014, 07:07:14 PM »
Thanks for the pointer to that thread, Winterlight. Very on point, and some excellent suggestions.

sammycat

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Re: Help! How can my son politely ask a friend to stop by less often?
« Reply #47 on: June 16, 2014, 09:34:23 PM »
I have regarded that imposition on DS as the cost to him of us providing him with both a ton of lego and a separate kid-safe and large lego room. If DS wanted only to build lego with a selected group of his peers, and we permitted him to exclude the younger visitors from his activities, I would use the current lego room for something else and instead make him do that activity in his bedroom.

Likewise, DS has an excellent PC which he got on the condition that he would include all comers in his games. Ditto a trampoline, playhouse...you get the picture. He benefits from getting a disproportionate amount of our family's space and financial resources...but in return we have compelled him to use this space and these things in such a way that all the neighborhood and family kids enjoy them. One might, in fact, say that we pay him to babysit younger family members and more difficult kids by giving him stuff and space that makes such babysitting more fun.

I find it a bit disturbing that the majority of DS's toys etc seem to only be bought with the idea that he must share them with all visiting kids. My children have a high amount of stuff like this too, probably more than most of their friends, but I bought it because I wanted them to have it. Not because it was a pay off for entertaining all and sundry who come along.


With the description of all the fun and exciting and neat things there are to do at your house, I have to wonder if all the kids who spend so much time at your place are there because they are truly friends with your DS, or if some of them are there because it's the coolest house in the neighborhood?

Maybe cutting back on the amount of fun things to do would help to weed out some of these kids. And I think your son might need to learn that there are people who are true friends, and there are people who act friendly because you have something they want--trampoline, Wii, tons of Lego, etc.

It is possible that the boy who wants to spend so much time with your DS really wants to play with all his cool stuff, and not necessarily so much with DS. And maybe DS is picking up on this, and that's why DS doesn't want to spend so much time with him.

ArcticChick, I think the way you have brought your son up, to include everyone, is commendable. You are clearly trying to break old patterns of behavior, and that is hard. You and your DH are doing a great job with your kid.

I agree with so much of what you are doing that it is difficult for me to address the opposite side of the issue--that all this inclusion may not be the absolute best thing for your son. I do think that as he grows older, he needs to learn how to set boundaries. He needs to learn who his real friends are. He needs to be able to pick and choose who he spends time with.

I agree and I was wondering this too, and I'd be very upset if I discovered that my playmates were only interested in me because of the 'stuff' I could provide (and as a parent I'd feel very hurt on my kid's behalf).

Winterlight

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Re: Help! How can my son politely ask a friend to stop by less often?
« Reply #48 on: June 17, 2014, 10:11:39 AM »
Camlan and Sammycat make good points. You might want to be careful of putting him in the circumstances of "buying" friends, or of discovering down the line that Joe and Jason come over because he's got a Wii and a trampoline, not because they like him personally.
If wisdom’s ways you wisely seek,
Five things observe with care,
To whom you speak,
Of whom you speak,
And how, and when, and where.
Caroline Lake Ingalls

Lynn2000

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Re: Help! How can my son politely ask a friend to stop by less often?
« Reply #49 on: June 17, 2014, 11:22:31 AM »
Fascinating thread. I have really appreciated the OP's willingness to make changes, while still trying to enforce the core values she wants her son to have. I think they are good values at heart and it sounds like you have given him a firm foundation already.

I was a contrary kid, I think. As I got older, the more someone told me I had to do something, the more I wanted to do just the opposite and resented it. If DS is ever going to react like that, the time could be approaching. You've set the foundation, you're working on new rules, and then I think at some point you have to step back and see what happens, with him making his own decisions. Because there may come a point when he feels too pushed by having to include people, and rebels against that just to be rebelling, with the consequences being exactly the worst thing you fear will happen--meanly excluding someone for not being "cool." I'm sure he's smart enough to realize that doing this would be exactly the "right" way to show his independence from you. So beware of pushing him to that point.

Also, I think it's natural for kids to have some friction among their peers. Obviously it can go too far, but sometimes that's how you learn--about yourself and about others. Like when some of his friends made racist remarks and he shut them down--that's great for DS, but it also told him something valuable about those particular kids. He may drift into a group of kids he likes on the surface, only to discover on his own that deeper down he doesn't like them, and I think the lesson is more powerful if he discovers that for himself rather than because you told him.

I've never thought about a parent buying a child toys on the condition that everyone in the neighborhood can use them. Sharing with siblings or something, perhaps, but that's usually not every single thing. If this is the arrangement in your head, I think DS is now old enough for this idea to be made explicit to him, and for him to say whether he agrees or not. He might very well be willing to forgo new toys, or give up old ones, if it means he can have more time to himself or with a select group of friends. That the toys, PC, etc. come with strings attached should be made clear, and DS should be allowed to say whether he accepts those strings and thus the toy, or not. There certainly doesn't have to be a "punishing" aspect to it: if you mutually decide to get rid of X or Y, that could leave more room for other things that the whole family could benefit from. It's just reallocation of resources.

Also, you might consider finding new outlets for your interest in hard-luck kids. For example, volunteering at a family soup kitchen, battered women's shelter, or crisis nursery. You would almost certainly receive training and be under the supervision of professionals at a place like this, who could help guide you in appropriate responses that will help long-term. And they would certainly be glad for someone with a kind heart who really wants to help.
~Lynn2000

Margo

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Re: Help! How can my son politely ask a friend to stop by less often?
« Reply #50 on: June 17, 2014, 04:34:47 PM »
The 'toys for the neighbourhood' thing bugged me a little, too. I am a little wary of the forced sharing.

 Does DS have toys and things which are his, as opposed to 'stuff for everyone which happens to live at his house?' I think that recognising his physical and social autonomy also extends to teaching him that it is OK to have things which he does not have to share unless he choses to. Of course, that includes teaching him that it is not polite to boast about stuff he has no plan to share, but in the long run, I think that it's really important to let him know that having, and living boundaries is OK.

I also think  that letting the clingy kid invite himself is not, in the long term, kind to the clingy kid. That isn't, generally, how the world works. You're potentially building up false expectations for him.

I think that the 'open house' signal of some kind is a fantastic idea. Perhaps you could consider starting a new regime to coincide with the start of the summer holidays, or the start of the new school year.

I also agree with the idea of rethinking the contributions you expect your son to make to family life - and it does risk teaching him that he is only valued if he has lots of stuff to offer.

As your son is now 11 (I think?) I would really consider discussing some of these issues with your son and give him an input into deciding what the new rules will be. For instance - will the 'open house' be once a week, twice a week, or less frequently? How often would you, as a family, like to have 'family only' days? For 'invitation only' das, how many friends would he see a being reasonable to invite?  You may find that his ideas and views about the current arrangements, and how they might change, surprise you - and he is, after all, much more affected than any of us here! You could also ask him about the arrangments his other friends have at him - what things does he like, or dislike, about those?

I think it is wonderful that you're thinking so hard, and making such a huge effort not only for him, but also for the community of kids, by the way! And being so gracious about all the advice and comment you're getting.


Firecat

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Re: Help! How can my son politely ask a friend to stop by less often?
« Reply #51 on: June 17, 2014, 09:06:12 PM »
I think it's laudable that you don't want to hurt (and don't want your DS to hurt) the feelings of others. But hurting another person's feelings is sometimes, sadly, inevitable, and the important thing is learning how to deliver bad news in such a way that the message is clear, but not more hurtful than it has to be.

This skill will come in very handy when DS needs to, say, turn down a date. Or break up with a significant other. Or give negative feedback in his future employment. Etc.

Not everything that's said or done that may hurt another person is mean or rude or anything else along those lines. Sometimes it's necessary, and it's really important that your DS understand this. It's much easier for him to learn now, when the stakes can be relatively low. And for those "difficult" kids, sometimes that negative feedback from their peer group is important for them, too (while unpleasant). Not that it should be ok for your DS to be deliberately mean. But there's a difference between "mean" and "Joe, it bothers me when you do X; please stop doing X."

Also, in terms of having him do chores, please consider (if you haven't) also teaching him things like how to cook (at least basics), shop for groceries, simple mending like sewing on a button, those sorts of things.

SoCalVal

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Re: Help! How can my son politely ask a friend to stop by less often?
« Reply #52 on: June 21, 2014, 01:02:36 PM »
DS just told a friend at our door that today wasn't good: he wanted a little bit of alone time, and then was going to visit his best friend. No drama, completely matter of fact. I'm so proud. I do not think I could have done as well at setting such a limit with my friends.

One thing you and DS might talk about is strategies for saying no that don't reveal too much or hurt someone's feelings.

It seems sensible that DS would visit his best friend, but it's also not that polite to say, "I don't want to spend time with you because I want to spend time with someone else."

I think it would've been perfectly fine to say, "I'm sorry, but today isn't good.  I've already got other plans."  Still not saying he's spending time with someone else but making it clear he's not available.  That's exactly what I told a friend of ours who was going to be in the area the same or next day and wanted to stop at our house between appointments as she had an hour to kill.  DH was going to be out all day, and I was using that time having the house to myself to work on some long-delayed home projects and didn't want to cut into the time entertaining.



SoCalVal

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Re: Help! How can my son politely ask a friend to stop by less often?
« Reply #53 on: June 21, 2014, 01:10:36 PM »
* when the rule is "you may not invite yourself," then you can say that to Clingy Kid in this instance. "No, sorry--you invited yourself, so the answer is no."

*You can say, "No, that's not the plan that Son cleared with me--we discussed the sleepover ahead of time, and he only has permission to have these two over tonight. I'm the mom, and those are my rules."

I like these.

I'm wondering, as someone who is not a parent, would it be okay for OP to address CK's actions with his own parents or would that be overstepping?



TootsNYC

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Re: Help! How can my son politely ask a friend to stop by less often?
« Reply #54 on: June 21, 2014, 02:03:39 PM »
* when the rule is "you may not invite yourself," then you can say that to Clingy Kid in this instance. "No, sorry--you invited yourself, so the answer is no."

*You can say, "No, that's not the plan that Son cleared with me--we discussed the sleepover ahead of time, and he only has permission to have these two over tonight. I'm the mom, and those are my rules."

I like these.

I'm wondering, as someone who is not a parent, would it be okay for OP to address CK's actions with his own parents or would that be overstepping?

I think you only go to the other kid's parents when:
    1) the child's welfare is at stake
    2) another child's welfare has been put at actual risk
    3) the child is defiant or recalcitrant about your reasonable and clearly communicated rules

You can alert the other parent to changes in policies and ask for assistance: "Hey, we're going to be changing the rules, so that kids are only coming to our house when we invite them. Would you help us with that, and remind your kid that he needs an invitation to come by? And that he shouldn't really call to ask us for one?"

kckgirl

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Re: Help! How can my son politely ask a friend to stop by less often?
« Reply #55 on: June 21, 2014, 02:17:11 PM »
I think you've really taken aboard the excellent suggestions given so far. As far as household chores are concerned, I think it's way past time to start having DS pull his weight in the house. He doesn't have to do all the dishes, mop all the floors, clean all the laundry, and do all the dusting, but he needs to help you to learn how to do these things. You don't want his future spouse to be burdened with a guy who doesn't know how to take proper care of a home. Everyone (male and female) needs to know how to run a household, cook meals, etc. It's part of being an adult, but you don't just start as an adult. You learn from your family, who love you enough to teach you how to be an adult.
Maryland

omjulie

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Re: Help! How can my son politely ask a friend to stop by less often?
« Reply #56 on: June 24, 2014, 06:58:42 PM »
I have a few thoughts.

First of all, most people I know who have/had social issues have at some point said that they wished someone had addressed it with them earlier, usually in the form of explaining and enforcing boundaries. It's not kind to let someone continue in harmful habits that are only going to get more deeply ingrained and harder to shake as they age. Think to yourself - will it be OK for this kid to behave this way when he's 16? When he's 23? When he's 40? Is it OK for him to act this way in school, at University, when he has a job someday? Well, then when is he supposed to learn appropriate behavior? The things he learns now about how to interact will continue with him, and it's best if he learns good habits as early as possible. When you say to Clingy Kid, "Actually, it's not very polite to invite yourself to someone else's event," and then in turn take your son and his friends aside and say, "It's not nice to talk about something someone's not invited to in front of them, because it lets them know you've left them out" you're giving both groups information they can take with them to other interactions.

What I'm saying is, clearly communicating and enforcing boundaries and social grace is good for your son and it's good for Clingy Kid. It's also good for Kid Who Acts Out For Understandable Reasons (in fact, having predictable, consistent rules for behavior can be a particularly refreshing change for someone with a chaotic home life). The key to the kindness is in how you lay a boundary, not whether you have one or not. You should be direct and clear, but not harsh or vindictive. If you want to be extra kind, let them know what the appropriate thing to do instead is. So for Clingy Kid, it would be, "Please don't just invite yourself over for breakfast. Ask us the night before instead and we'll tell you if it's OK." Or in the case of a Thief Kid, "It's not OK for you to steal from us. If you need money, please ask for it." Giving them a predictable alternative (like a consistent "dinner: two nights a week only" rule) softens the blow and helps everyone feel a little more in control.

Second, my siblings and I were generally pretty socially capable growing up, with lots of large groups of friends - and we were also raised to value inclusivity. Because of this, we tended to attract kids who were clingy or more difficult to be friends with; the kind of person you occasionally need a break from. Growing up, I was always grateful when my parents were willing to be the bad guys for me - for example, before a party, they'd ask us how many kids we wanted to invite. If I said, say, "12," they would say, "OK, you're allowed to invite only12 people to this party, and no more." That way I had an excuse if someone who wasn't invited found out about the party. They were also available for "escape call" situations - if someone was at our house and I was tired of playing with them, I could take my father aside (privately) and explain that I'd rather stop playing. My father would then wait for me to go back out to play, then come outside and declare that it was time for me to do my homework and so all the other kids had to go home.

To go along with this, however, I was brought up to neverdiscuss an event with someone who wasn't invited to that event. If I took invitations to school to hand-deliver, for example, I was also given strict instructions to give those to my friends privately, because if I did it in front of other people I had to invite those other people.

As for the specific situation in the OP, where your son wants to limit the time he spends with his friend, what would you think of him just saying, "Actually, it's just going to be us today; can you come over on Saturday?" Maybe if he starts by proposing a different, predictable time each time rather than simply saying no, he can start transitioning into taking control of his social life and time a bit more.
« Last Edit: June 24, 2014, 07:04:27 PM by omjulie »

bopper

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Re: Help! How can my son politely ask a friend to stop by less often?
« Reply #57 on: July 07, 2014, 02:10:33 PM »
I would figure out how often your son is willing to have the kid over.

Once a week? Once a day?

Then he says "Sorry, I have some other people coming over today but you can come over tomorrow."   and then the next time "I have stuff after school this week but next Tuesday we can Play basketball."

I agree with others...let mom be the "bad guy".

"Clingy, we like to have breakfast as a family. Please don't come over until after 10:00."