Author Topic: How do I facilitate my child's friendship when I distrust the friend's parent?  (Read 8100 times)

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Take2

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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.

*inviteseller

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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. 

peaches

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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.


Take2

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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.

*inviteseller

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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.

EllenS

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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?

Take2

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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.

EllenS

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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.
« Last Edit: April 04, 2013, 02:26:14 PM by EllenS »

JaneJensen

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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.

johelenc1

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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.

 

Calistoga

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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.


TurtleDove

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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." 

violinp

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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.
"It takes a great deal of courage to stand up to your enemies, but even more to stand up to your friends" - Harry Potter


TurtleDove

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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.

Twik

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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."
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