Friday, May 29, 2009

Hey, it's just like Dear Abby! Only not really .....

...because instead of offering advice, it seems I'm always coming to you, ASKING for advice. This time, though, I'm asking for a friend. (I know, that's what people always say when they're trying to pretend its not them ... but honest, this time it really IS for a friend!) She wrote after reading everyone's comments earlier this week and has a situation she thought someone might have a suggestion for. So let me throw it out there on her behalf, and if you have any ideas, please leave a comment. Thanks!

PS. I promise, this isn't turning into some lame parenting advice blog. I've got too many other, important things to talk about, like my love for Sonic, and our summer roly-poly infestation that has begun, and the bizarre-o tattoos I saw at the water park today.....

"Hey Kristie!
I was reading the update on your blog & found it interesting & informative. I too sometimes have trouble w/ kids misbehaving w/ plans already made & it being a big, huge hassle to cancel the plans. I do the best that I can to correct the child & punish them in the right way. Now I have a question for you that maybe you can ask your blog readers & not mention that its from me! Not sure if anyone from here knows you & reads your blog too! What do you do when a certain child is ALWAYS at your house & never asks your child over? The mom always says that we need to have your child over yet never does! When we talk of getting the kids together, she always offer to bring her child over, never asking my child to come over. Its my child's best friend. Help? I don't want to end the friendship yet I don't want to go all summer w/that child here & my child never there. That child is always polite and nice to have around. Its just the fairness of it all. How do you handle situations like this? Thanks!"


Lori said...

Have the child ask the parent if he/she can come over to their house. My kids friends are not shy, they ask me all the time if they can come over.

Anonymous said...

There could be something there. Maybe she's embarassed about her house. Maybe there's a family member or big pet there that she'd rather not have kids around.

Anonymous said...

I was thinking what anonymous said. Maybe your friend doesn't *want* her kid over that house. Maybe it is a sty. Maybe the kid's dad gets drunk and beats the mom. Maybe she has a brother living in the basement that is a convicted child molester.

On the other hand, maybe she has some kind of OCD anxiety disorder, where she can't stand mess and the house has to look like a magazine page at all times. Maybe she has a side lover she entertains, lol.

Or maybe she is just a user.


Anonymous said...

I would think about it from a different angle.

Be thrilled that this child loves your home and your family and is comfortable with you. In 20 years, you may learn what it was all about and you may have provided the loving haven that child needed.

The bonus is that you can keep an eye on your own child so much easier when s/he is at home!


Donna said...

I would tend to agree that there is a reason your child isn't being asked over. How well do you know the other mom? Are grownups ever invited over, or is it just a kid issue? Does she have infants at home and prefers not to have playdates there?

If there doesn't seem to be a reason other than her convenience, you'll just have to step up and politely decline to have the other child over so often. There is always a chance you are being used as a babysitter for a mom who sees a way to get free child care. Don't flame me people, I'm just saying that there ARE people in the world like this, not that the parent in question is automatically one of them!

If you really feel the need to limit the visits (easy to do if they don't live next door...) just say something like "We would love to have X over for the afternoon on Tuesday because we just don't have much time the rest of the week!"

If it's not the worst thing in the world to never get a playdate in return, take Bridget's advice and be happy to be a positive voice in this child's life and to have the kids playing under your supervision.

kimi said...

Everyone else posted what I was thinking. The only thing I'd add is that maybe this mom finds the thought of 2 kids alone in her home overwhelming. If she has others (younger?) it may be just that 1 more child is something she can't handle. She's being polite in saying "We'll have to have your child over" but in fact she can't.

I'm a mom of 5 and we always have any number of additional friends here. It's okay for me - I do well with "crowds". 2 can be a huge number for some.

If she's your best friend, I'd either try to broach the subject - or be sneaky. Maybe you have an appointment at the last minute and you just need a babysitter for an hour and can you drop your child off?! If she freaks at that you have your answer!

Good luck with this and frankly if her child is well-behaved and not moving in his personal belongings, I'd just accept that you are the positive environment this mom has chosen. And that's a blessing no matter how you look at it.

End-of-school-now-what?-Mom to:


Alisa said...

I think I agree with what the others are saying. Sometimes its just a time and seasons thing. When I look at my situation, there have been times that I just could not handle having anybody else but our family around. (new baby, major house projects, prolonged grumpiness ...) And I have worried about not reciprocating.
But then that "season" changes. I have kids friends over, and everyone is happy again.
But you know, some people are just not socially available. Its difficult for them to have kids over.

Carrie said...

I didn't have this problem with my kids friends but I'll share my own insight from when I was a kid.

Because I was that kid over at someone else's house. I loved going over to my friend Tina's house, her Mum didn't work and always had a snack waiting after school, we weren't allowed to watch TV but we spent hours playing board games or putting on shows in her backyard.

I never wanted her to come to my house because my Mum had a "career" and when she got home from work she often yelled if things didn't go the way she wanted. Our house was spotless, my Mother prided herself on having a house that was so clean you could eat off the floor.

She never offered us a snack (spoil our supper!) and in fact I was not allowed in the kitchen or the living room. She had slippers in every size for our guests (my bro and I) and they were required to wear them while in our home. I think my Mother preferred us to go elsewhere, then she didn't have to deal.

The few times I did have friends over I felt like I didn't exhale the whole time they were over, I was totally stressed out. When I went to friend's houses I felt like I could relax.

So I guess my advice to you is maybe look at it a little differently. It's hard to know what is going on in other people's lives unless you're a fly on their wall. I would hazard a guess there is probably a reason that child is there and it no doubt is beyond their control.

All these years later I still remember the times I spent at my friend's house with gratefulness and good memories. It had such an influence on me I adopted many of my friend's Mum's ways in raising my own children.

Hope that gives you another perspective!

Anonymous said...

I agree with what many others are saying - when my father went through a bout of serious depression, I spent much of my time at the homes of friends. It was very good for me to get out of the house, and I don't think that my mother would have been able to handle having other kids around. All sorts of things could be going on, but I'd guess that there is probably a reason that your friend isn't reciprocating. Providing a place for her child to have fun might be a real blessing, even if you don't realize it.

Anonymous said...

Maybe your house is simply more fun?? My son doesn't care if he comes or goes but his friend definitely prefers to come here. Mostly because he doesn't have to 'share' my son with his brothers! Here the two can play uninterrupted -- there, the little brother wants to be a part of things, the bigger brother always has an opinion to offer. It may not be the parent not offering but the child "hiding" the offer, so he/she can come over.

I don't mind having the friends over, so it works for me. Besides, then I don't have to drive to get them or drop them off. ;)

Anonymous said...

When my girls were younger, I always preferred the other children to come to my house to play. I am a tad bit overprotective, and I would be nervous if they were at someone else's home, because I didn't know that they were being watched like I watched them. I really enjoyed the other children being at our house anyway, as they were all so sweet and polite. One of the girls that stayed at our house so much just recently told me that the best part of her childhood was staying with us. It really makes you feel good for other kids to tell you that.
Joann in AL

Anonymous said...

I agree with Bridget. I had a friend who was over at our house more than I was ever over at hers. I recently found out that her father sexually abused her. I was only invited over there when her father was on a business trip. It was shocking to know that I knew nothing about this...and that my mom knew nothing, too, when our families were supposed to be so close.

Julie said...

We have the same situation. My daughter (16) BFF pretty much lives at our house, especially during the summer. My daughter has never been invited to their house. The excuse is "when we get the house cleaned up." We've resigned ourselves to it. I think they must be hoarders etc.. Even if Brenna goes up to the door to get her friend, she's not allowed in and usually they block so she can't even SEE in! I'm also happy at this age, that they want to be at our house. At least here I know what they are doing, planning etc... Sometimes it's a pain especially if my husband and I want to "farm" the kids out. But in the long run I'm glad they are here.

Sue said...

My daughter has a friend like that. Unfortunately, this friend and her mom have a habit of dropping by unexpectedly and frequently. For the most part, we have tried to take a laid-back attitude towards this child. Her mom is a single parent, she is an only child, our house is a lot more exciting (OK, messy). We have included her on many of our family outings, mostly because we know that's the only way she gets to go anywhere with other kids. We spend lots of time on social issues when she's over (privacy issues come up with a child who is allowed to walk in on her mom whenever, wherever) .
Sometimes, it gets to be too much. Then we don't allow play dates for a while. I have started automatically saying "no" when her mom asks if her daughter can accompany us on a family trip. In my mind, it's OK if I invite your child to go with, but it's rude to ask if your child can go with us. We had to make it clear that we would not be her babysitter on days when the school has the afternoon off.

I guess you figure out where your boundaries are, and don't let this family cross them. My daughter says going to her friend's house is boring, and that she's so selfish with her toys that it's no fun.

Lucy and Ethel said...

You are obviously providing a safe, fun place for them, and maybe that's not possible at the child's house.

Maybe there's no reason :)

I'd be thankful the child is nice to have around and that you know exactly where your own child is and what's going on! Those days will end soon enough....


Sandy P said...

I think it depends on the age of the kids, and the challenge it presents to have them at your house. My kids are small and it is certainly extra work to have more of them around. If that is the case, maybe you can call and ask if it would be a problem for your child to come over. If the kids are older and it isn't a big deal, I think you should try to see the positive side. Your child and this child are happy to be at your house. Maybe ask the other mom to send a snack so you don't always have to cover the cost!

Anonymous said...

I agree with pretty much what everyone else has said!
For us, we basically don't have kids over because we live in a TINY condo and while it is clean (most of the time) it is ALWAYS cluttered and messy. She will go play with other kids because they have more space, a yard, etc. At this point, I think most of her friends realize that this is the case and don't feel slighted that we don't generally invite kids over here. Just reiterating that it may be for a real reason, and not just for the free babysitting that the child is always at your house!
I look forward to the day where we have a space big enough and hopefully welcoming enough that all the kids are coming to OUR house and playing instead!

Anonymous said...

It isn't really fair, but I would be excited that the kids were at my house and comfortable here. You never know what kind of situation your kids are getting into at someone else's house. There must be some reason why the kids aren't at her house! Be thankful that your kids like to be at home!

Gayle in AL

Anonymous said...

Well, quite frankly we had that situation for about 10 years!! My sons very best friend from birth was always over at our house and my son was rarely at their home. When my son did go over I always felt like we were imposing. So my coping method went like this: I can end the friendship over time by refusing to allow the boy to come over and in that way "get back" at the non inviting family, OR I could not allow myself to dwell on it and take the stance that we were going to be the house where everyone wants to be! And to this day, we are the house where everyone wants to be (exept my kids haha!! sometimes). Seriously though, we have opened our home for it to be a refuge for kids who need to get away from their families(all in a good way, mind you). My kids friends know they are welcome and for some who have reached "the other child" status, they help themselves to food/drink because in the end, we aren't taking our food/drinks/stuff with us to heaven, but it will be relationships that last and are remembered. Hope that helps. It has transformed my way of thinking anyway. And to let you know, the original boy this story was about, he is no longer in our lives in a consistent way. Their friendship drifted and he is now doing things that are quite unbecoming for a young boy (computer porn and who knows what else). The last time he was at our house he tried to get my son on a porn site and my boy FREAKED out!!! Needless to say, my boy has no desire to invite him back ~ nor do I.

Jeanette in GA said...

I agree-for some reason she doesn't want kids in her house. Could be she is a neat freak and doesn't want a bunch of kids making a mess?

Maybe mention that your child really would like to come over to their house and would that be okay?
Watch her reaction-if she's all weird about it, then forget it. I wouldn't want my kid at someone's home unless they were welcome there.

I agree with Bridget-be thankful the other kids love to come over to your house!

Anonymous said...

I've spent the past three years as a full time student, as well as a single parent. I prefer not to have kids over during the semester when a lot of my at-home time is used for studying. I don't allow any kids over during finals and the week or so leading up to it.

On the other hand, in between semester and in summer, kids are welcome. I don't generally offer snacks though. I've been living on student loans and the food budget needs to feed my son and I. It doesn't stretch to chips, cookies and juice for the neighborhood.

Anonymous said...

I say don't invite the kid over if it's not convenient for you. Maybe there is something going on at home that makes it difficult for them to have playdates. I say don't invite a child over with the expectation that it will be reciprocated. I just started reading the other posts and realize some others are thinking the same thing. I know my daughter didn't want to have kids over when her father and I were getting divorced. She was embarassed that her Dad wasn't at home. I think to be annoyed is silly. If you don't want the kid over, don't invite him/her. If your child enjoys playing with the child have a playdate without expected a playdate in return.

Dianna in Louisiana said...

Good Luck solving your problem----- I agree with those who said that said that she may be hiding something...... You just never know.

SandyBo said...

If it were me (and it has been) I would just let it go. The other parents could have a hard time dealing with other children and might not make the best people to watch your child anyway. Right now, I have the opposite problem. My child is always at someone's house (right next door) and their children will not come to our house.........but we do know why, because their children refuse to follow our rules (like taking turns, being polite, taking dishes to the sink, etc). Because of differing parenting styles you might be happy that the other child is at your home rather than vice versa.

Anonymous said...

Growing up, I was the child who was always over at someone else's house. I spent just about every day after school at my BFF's home. She rarely came to my house. My house was bigger, but her place was simply more fun. They had cable tv (we didn't), video games (we didn't), lots of junk food snacks (we were strictly healthy), and her parents went ALL OUT on birthdays and Christmas. The bedrooms, living room, and basement were filled with toys that we could spend hours with. If she came over to my house, we would often get bored quite fast. Looking back, I guess it was a little out of the ordinary that I was always over there and now I wonder if her parents minded, especially since I ate dinner there quite often (BFF would just tell me while we were playing in the evening that I should stay for dinner and then ask her parents and they almost always said yes). My mother sometimes told me that I wasn't allowed for dinner because she felt that we were imposing too much. I hope they didn't mind since I was always ok with them saying no to play dates and dinner.

On the other hand though, as we got older and went through high school, we invited her to our beach house for 3 summers for 2 weeks each and then I stayed with them for 3 weeks when my parents were traveling overseas (this included going to her aunt's for Thanksgiving). I guess it balances out. I'm their second daughter now anyway so it wasn't that weird that we did summer vacations and family holidays together.

If this is your child's best friend, I really don't think it's something to get upset over unless it's starting to be a logistical or financial problem for you. The kids likely have their established play preferences and your house is better for some reason. (At least I hope it is nothing serious like some of the previous comments mentioned) I hope that one day I have the house that all of the neighborhood kids want to hang out at. I'd enjoy it :).

deb8able said...

I'm thrilled that our house is where my daughter and her friends hang out. I know what they are doing and just feel more comfortable when they are here. I wouldn't push the issue as there has to be a reason that your daughter isn't invited over there , you just haven't found out the problem.

Anonymous said...

Growing up, I was ALWAYS at my best friends house. Her parents were like second parents to me. But my best friend very rarely came over to my house and that's the way we liked it. My parents were just not as "cool" as hers. We had more to do and had more fun at her house. =)

Anonymous said...

I would LOVE it!! The more time my child is in my house and happy and their friends are in my house and having fun, the better I will know what my kids are up to...the more I can help guide the playtime to appropriate avenues. If your child has friends who always want to be at YOUR house...I'd consider that a HUGE compliment!!

I think your friend has a problem with the mom, but she needs to get past the 'fairness' of the deal and be thankful that kids don't run screaming from her house but come there happily. That is a great be able to be a host to others AND able to oversee what your child is up to at the same time!

Patricia, GA

Anonymous said...

I wanted to add to my comments about how wonderful this is that....this is really only a 'non' problem in my book if your child and the other child are TRULY best friends and you have a good relationship with the mom. If your child is put out by having to play continually with this child or if it's just 'someone' to play with but not necessarily that they are good friends then I might reconsider talking to the mom. We had a visitor at our church that lived about 2 blocks from us. We didn't know her at all except for seeing her at church occassionally. All the sudden her child came to our home every day, and while this was fine (he was only 5) because I could send him home when it wasn't a good time...she got to dropping him off and yelling through the window to him as she pulled away that she was going to Walmart and she'd see him later. Since she never called and asked or even let me KNOW he'd be at our door until he showed up and she was pulling off...we had to put a stop to that right away. She was hurt and never let her son come over again but THAT type of relationship isn't a 'friendship''s a user situation that can bleed you dry if you are not careful.
Patricia, GA

Anonymous said...

I agree with a lot of what the others are saying. Personally for me, I have 4 children, my husband has 4, and we have 6 grandchildren. My husband is 10 years older than me, so his kids are older than mine. I don't generally have other kids over to visit my younger kids without knowing the parents of the other child VERY well, because I want them to be aware that there are older kids here and not all parents want their elementary school kids exposed to 6 teenagers at once. No, we don't let them do strange or illegal things and tend to be quite conservative, but that doesn't mean that they don't influence younger kids. Being up front about it the other kids' parents are generally thankful, or they give me the thumbs up that they don't care or trust me or whatever. It takes the worry away...