Etiquette School is in session! > "I'm afraid that won't be possible."

Help! How can my son politely ask a friend to stop by less often?

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TootsNYC:

--- Quote from: PastryGoddess on June 15, 2014, 09:27:59 PM ---It's also not rude to tell this boy that you are not having visitors and he needs to go home.  If he asks why, just repeat that you're not having visitors and he needs to go home.

--- End quote ---

Of course, if there *are* other visitors (i.e., her son's friends whom he has invited over, and with whom he would -like- to spend time.

The OP has set it up so that Clingy Boy only has to say, "But they're here! Why can't I be?"

So if the answer is, "We invited them, we didn't invite you," that's sort of hurtful. But if it's delivered as: "Nobody can come in our home unless we have invited them first."

Tea Drinker:
Maybe rather than having a rule that everyone can drop in all the time, you could have specific everyone-can-drop-in days and times (even if it's Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday, Sunday, from noon until bedtime, the point is that the door isn't open all the time). That would reduce the amount of time classmate is there by meaning he didn't come over before school.

The other thing is that you should probably think about what circumstances, if any, would lead to you modifying the category of who can drop in. I suspect that there are behaviors that would lead to you saying "this child is not welcome in our home, because it's not safe to have them here." (You may not have thought about it, because the obvious things, like physically attacking your son out of the blue, haven't come up.) It's probably healthier to have the rule be "we aren't going to exclude anyone without a specific reason that makes sense to us"--that means nobody is excluded because of their skin color or accent or who their grandparents are, but you don't feel compelled to invite someone who repeatedly steals from your son and his classmates.

I could go on about geek social fallacies and the dangers of refusing to ever exclude anyone, but that wouldn't address your practical question of how to say "yes, you can hang out here, but not every day." For that, try the time-constrained version, and see how it goes.

Onyx_TKD:

--- Quote from: ArcticChick on June 15, 2014, 08:15:27 PM ---Unless we have other plans or scheduled events, DS may have as many kids as he wishes visiting him at any time. At mealtimes, for example, we just feed whomever is here and hungry. On weekends several friends typically spend the night at our house. Both DH  and I mostly work from home, so the kids are seldom or never alone. But the neighborhood is safe and the boys are increasingly independent, so mostly they take care of themselves.

DS has tried to put limits on the boy in question, including saying "I don't want you to visit me today," and "don't come over until 2 pm, please." The friend has respected these, in part, but in part ignored them. And when this boy does show up after DS has requested he not do so, DS invariably has other friends over already, and does not feel able to dis-include him. So he gets to join the pack.
...
I am struggling with how to help DS set limits with his friends in part because DH and I place a very high value on inclusion. We have always made our open-door policy is contingent on no child being excluded from whatever him and his friends are doing.
...
Most kids have mobile phones, and often DS friends will phone rather than show up at our doorstep unannounced. But not always. And our immediate neighborhood kids will invariably just show up. And if we don't answer the doorbell, they will walk right in our (mostly unlocked) front door. (Our dogs bark, so any entrant does get announced). For our part of the world, this is the norm.

--- End quote ---

Sorry, but I think your family will need to revise one or more of your rules to make this work. Right now, based on what you've said:
1. Kids can show up and even walk right in at any time without any advance notice.
2. Once they've shown up, they may not be excluded. (I.e., your son has to choose between inviting Classmate in or kicking everyone out.)
3. There is no limit on when or how many kids he can have over, so he can't even use that as an excuse to turn anyone away.

These rules as stated basically allow other children to hold your son hostage in his own home--he has to host them whenever they wish, or he can't have any other friends over. Your son sounds like he's embraced your inclusiveness philosophy, so is it still necessary to have such a strict rule about it? He doesn't want to exclude this kid entirely, or exclude him because he's different. Instead, he just doesn't want to spend every waking moment with the kid and wants to spend time with other friends without him. I agree with Toots that this is a right kids ought to have. Not liking every single person on earth (much less just wanting to spend a little less time with otherwise-likeable individuals) isn't being exclusive and intolerant, it's normal.

If you want your son to establish boundaries, then the rules have to permit him to establish those boundaries. Requiring kids to call first before coming over, like Toots suggested, would make it easier to control who was invited at any given time without them knowing whether he was hosting other kids. Another possibility would be to set a rule that having more than X friends over at once has to be cleared with his parents (choose a fairly low number). Then, if Classmate (or another kid) shows up unannounced when it's obvious Son already has guests, Son can "check" with you. If it's someone he doesn't want to include, you can be the bad guy saying "no" because there are too many people over already. Note that this would allow you to keep an eye on who's being included and when, so you could have a chat about being inclusive if you spotted a problem. Whether he already has guests or not, it's perfectly polite for Son to say "Sorry, it's not a good time" or "Sorry, not today" without having to justify why, but your house rules have to allow him to do that.

TootsNYC:

--- Quote from: Tea Drinker on June 15, 2014, 09:34:39 PM ---Maybe rather than having a rule that everyone can drop in all the time, you could have specific everyone-can-drop-in days and times (even if it's Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday, Sunday, from noon until bedtime, the point is that the door isn't open all the time). That would reduce the amount of time classmate is there by meaning he didn't come over before school.

--- End quote ---

But why should the OP's son have to have him there at all? Maybe he doesn't even really want him around that often! Maybe he doesn't want to be close friends with this kid. He shouldn't be required to.
   "Freedom of association" is a fundamental American right--I know the OP isn't in America, but it's still frankly an important *human* right. You should get to choose who you spend your time with.
   Just because they like -you- shouldn't mean that you are stuck with them.


--- Quote ---The other thing is that you should probably think about what circumstances, if any, would lead to you modifying the category of who can drop in. I suspect that there are behaviors that would lead to you saying "this child is not welcome in our home, because it's not safe to have them here." (You may not have thought about it, because the obvious things, like physically attacking your son out of the blue, haven't come up.) It's probably healthier to have the rule be "we aren't going to exclude anyone without a specific reason that makes sense to us"--that means nobody is excluded because of their skin color or accent or who their grandparents are, but you don't feel compelled to invite someone who repeatedly steals from your son and his classmates.

--- End quote ---

Again--the OP's son shouldn't have to come up with a "good enough" reason to not want to be close buddies with this kid. It's completely not appropriate to say, "you have to welcome him into your home, and into your inner circle of friends, becuse he isn't a thief." Maybe he's just annoying and clingy and needy and has no boundaries (which is what it sounds like).
   We often tell grownups here at EHell that they don't need to have -any- reason to decide who is or isn't their friend. Or who is or isn't invited.

TootsNYC:

--- Quote ---But having taken that in I struggle with the possible consequence that DS joins/forms an in-crowd, and excludes the interesting but less conventional kids. I have seen those tendencies...and if I let him pick and choose and close the door to kids at will, I do fear that he (and I) will contribute to further marginalizing the kids that by nature, nurture, circumstance or personality already struggle to find their place among their peers. I am not talking about foisting on DS time with kids he can't stand or with whom he has nothing in common. Rather, I am thinking about the kid with ADHD, or parents with substance abuse issues, or the awkwardly large boy who sucks at sports...kids whose company DS does enjoy, but whom his peer group see as borderline reject-losers. Peer-pressure and the pressure to conform is vicious up here, and I do think these more awkward kids may be included in the neighborhood gang of kids in part because we insist upon it as a condition of any kids spending time in our house and garden.
--- End quote ---


Your kid is not the county Social Worker.

He can be friendly with these kids in other ways; and I think you underestimate the influence you will have on him.

You can still encourage your son to include those kids in his gatherings--he can still insist that they be included, and treated well, in anything he plans. But *they* don't get to insist that they are included.

Basically, it comes down to, it's your home. People shouldn't invite themselves into your house.

Once you've re-established that very sane and sensible boundary, then you can work with your son as he (and you) figure out whom he wants to invite.

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