Two of our contributors are asked to take opposing stances on an issue and present a case for their viewpoint. Comment and tell us who you agree with or what you believe or think! The topics are suppose to elicit a response and start a conversation in comments. Enjoy!
TOPIC: Parenting the neighborhood Kids.
Two years ago when I was dismissed from my job, I noticed a phenomena when I became a SAHP. As you can guess from the title of the topic, I was suddenly everyone's parent while their parents worked or basically neglected them.
No, I wasn't the cool person...I was just emotionally available to anyone and everyone. I was okay with that and I was consistent with everyone on what is and is not acceptable in terms of behavior. Wipe your feet before you come in. Say "please" and "thank you". Ask your parents first before asking me if you can sleep over.
At first, some of the kids didn't like the expectations I placed on them...but they eventually understood that if they showed respect or behaved properly, I would be more receptive to them. However, there was this one thing that drove me nuts every day.
They kept coming over at lunchtime, which meant they expected me to feed them. I tried to get their parents to feed them. Uh-uh. I tried sending my girls over to be fed by them. Uh-uh. I tried getting the kids to brown-bag their lunch. Uh-uh. That's when I had enough and I told everyone since none of them were willing to feed my girls, I would not feed them anymore.
Oh, there was a bit of a fallout all over the neighborhood, but I refused to cave in. I stood my ground and every time a kid came over "hungry", I would gently remind the kid that there is food at her/his home and point the way. One house stopped talking to me (I didn't care since their sons were nothing but trouble and wouldn't stop cussing) and another stopped sending the kids over.
The kids still stop by, but they don't expect to be fed - they play with my girls. My sanity was restored. As for my relationship with the girls, things got much better. I no longer felt anxious about the possibility of them bringing their friends over.
Do you think my decision did some damage to their relationship with their friends?
Neighbors are why I live forty miles from the nearest city in a gated community with a ten foot fence around my property. I'm not exactly known for my ability to play well with others. One of my biggest anxieties about having children was that I'd have to deal with other parents. Seriously. I may seem like a bundle of sweetness and beauty, and I certainly am, but I like people to keep their distance. I don't let people in. Sometimes, maybe even a lot of the time, I have difficulty with even superficial relationships.
So I get this.
I found that I even have it in me not only to dislike other people, but to dislike their children. Who dislikes a child? I do, apparently. I've had these kinds of kids at my house. They're rude, they're messy, they're always hungry, they're disrespectful, and they are teaching my children things I don't want them to learn. They don't respond well to rules. And I just wanted them to go away.
I laid down the law. The kids who didn't follow my rules were no longer allowed to play in my home. I was gentle, but firm. I tolerated them, though they made me grind my teeth and their parents made me stabby. I fed them, I entertained them, and showed them the love and attention a lot of them were looking for and not finding at home. I might have even learned to like them a little better.
And because I didn't follow my instincts, which were to erect an electric fence around my house and laugh as people were delivered a nonlethal jolt when they tried to get in, I learned that I can be someone for these kids that their parents can't or won't be. I can feed them and entertain them and let them raid my fridge and admonish them for getting dirt on my floor even if their parents aren't willing to do the same for me.
I have the choice to let it piss me off, which it certainly did at first, but instead I decided that the kids are not responsible for their parents idiocy. They can't help it that their parents dumped them off on me, expected me to take care of them out of the goodness of my heart. They're just kids and they clearly need a positive adult role model in their lives since their parents can't be bothered to be decent human beings.
So I suck it up, I take them in knowing my kindness is not going to be reciprocated, and I hope that what I teach the little heathens about behaving themselves will stick at least as long as they're playing with my children, maybe even a little longer if I'm lucky. And of course, when their parents are extra horrible, I fall back on one of my favorite pastimes. Writing letters and issuing penalties as the fictitious president of the homeowner's association.
2 years ago