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Video Blog: I Like My Friend, But Her Kids?

Rebecca and Rich Kammerer of Parents “R” Talking will be answering parenting questions, giving parenting tips and covering other parenting topics in weekly video blogs and articles.

"What should I do when my friend wants to bring her wild kids over for a playdate? I am constantly telling them, “NO…” or “Stop…” My 2 year old hides behind my leg or sits on my lap when they come flying into my house. I really like my friend and feel sorry for her. She seems to always be overwhelmed and tells me that I am the only one she can turn to. Even my friend’s mother recently asked her not to come by until she teachers her kids to behave; as they ruined her bedding set by taking permanent markers and coloring all over it."   

- BFF in West Hempstead

You are in a tough situation! I understand that you want to be there for your friend, but it sounds like she is bringing the chaos with her. Your friend needs to set-up some boundaries with her children. And you need to set-up some boundaries with your friend and her children.

Your friend’s mother has set up her own boundaries by establishing that she has certain expectations when they are over for a visit (such as not destroying their grandmother’s things.)

It is completely rational to expect that you, your home and most importantly your own child be held in high regard by people you choose to have around. Gently explain to your friend that you have house rules that need to be followed. Make these the same rules you have for yourself and your child; then list them. Explain to the other mom and all the children (your child included) that there will be three warnings (reminders) of these rules and if they are still unable to follow the rules then the playdate will have to end abruptly. If your friend is really your friend she will understand that you need to put you and your child’s comfort (happiness) first. As they are leaving, welcome them back another day and explain that at the next playdate they will have another chance to practice your house rules.

Try not to get angry (or worst; to back down) and if you see your friend getting upset, reassure her that you wish for them to come back soon when everyone can better manage themselves.

Really, in all of this, I feel that your friend and her children are secondary to you and your child. By stating these boundaries, you will be establishing a stronger bond with your child. By helping to make your child feel safe and secure, you are sending her the message, “I care about your feelings, I will help protect you from others and you too should feel comfortable setting expectations for people in your life.” You are setting an example, being a model for how your child can handle and protect herself now and in the future.

Please share your thoughts regarding this week’s article in the comments section below.  Sign up for our free Newsletter or visit www.ParentsRTalking.com.

(Editor's Note: The opinions in this article are those of Parents "R” Talking. The opinions are not medical advice. Always consult your pediatrician about any changes you are contemplating.)

LJ July 02, 2011 at 08:09 PM
This time of year its possible to set up a playdate outside. At the neighborhood park,zoo, local kids museum, at a beach or local pool. Even your own backyard. This way your home will not be at risk for damage. However, if you are going inside your home, I agree you may need to be frank with your friend. You can tell her that your own child is overwhelmed by the noise and activity level of her chuildren, and you do not wnat your child to feel unsafe in her own home. I think the three warnins and out rule is a good one and if it is applied a couple of times, the kids may actually learn to tone it down. If not, you will not have liost much by exiting this friendship, which seems rather one way. Consider the possibility those children may be clinically hyperactive also.
Rebecca Kammerer July 03, 2011 at 11:37 AM
LJ I like the idea of have playdates outside. I think going over rules for behavior is still necessary. Not just how to respect material items but how to treat others. I completely agree that the friend is not considering the reader and her child’s feelings. Sometimes parting ways is the only way to truly honor oneself. I hope her friend sees just how much she cares before it comes to that.
Tara Priest July 03, 2011 at 12:31 PM
I think the three wanrnings is ideal for breaking most rules however there are a few that require once only and your out like hitting, kicking or spitting. I am certainly not going to give another child three opportunities to hurt my kid. Maybe i would say "do it again and your out" but not thre times. I also think that maybe this mom needs to loose her last friend in order to hit rock bottom and realize that she needs to change how she is handling her kids-clearly what sh'e doing isn't working. I also find that these types of people are resourceful. If she doesn't like your boundaries you'll be surprised she find someone else who won't mind. One last thought, if she is a really good friend why don't you suggest going out for coffee just the two of you to catch up without the interruption of the kids. she may just be a friend who likes to have something to do with her kids because it's easier - if not then you can have your friend without the kids. sounds like she may need a break from her kids too.
Rebecca Kammerer July 03, 2011 at 12:52 PM
Tara-Great advice! Thanks for the insight. The reader did not say the other children were physical, just that they were behaving in an inappropriate (wild) behavior. Anytime one child hits another child the parents should assess the situation (ie; was it an accident or intentional) and then use appropriate action.

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