Author Topic: How do I facilitate my child's friendship when I distrust the friend's parent?  (Read 8622 times)

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TurtleDove

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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.
« Last Edit: April 08, 2013, 04:06:44 PM by TurtleDove »

Jones

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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.

Calistoga

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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.

TurtleDove

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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.

Sharnita

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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.

Allyson

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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.

Take2

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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.

cicero

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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.

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bopper

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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.

Minmom3

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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...
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mmswm

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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.
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bloo

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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.

Take2

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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.

Mikayla

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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.