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Mean Mom’s Question Time: How Much Do You Meddle in Your Kids’ Friendships?

5 responses to “Mean Mom’s Question Time: How Much Do You Meddle in Your Kids’ Friendships?”

  1. Claudine Jalajas

    I’m a cross between your mom and the moms of today. Although, I lean harder in the direction of your mom (and how my mom was too). I rarely play with my kids. Sounds awful but that’s the truth. I grew tired of playing barbies many years ago. I interact with my children in many ways. But, play time is their business and their job.

    I do tell my kids to “go play.” They often find their own friends who are in the neighborhood. Because I’m pretty much the only mom around and we have a “fun” yard, the kids wind up here (a blessing and a curse). I’m able to see who my children are playing with and get to know them, chumps and all. Some of the kids my kids play with annoy the crap out of me. But, they’re not bad–they’re just annoying. So I keep out of it. Eventually as my kids grow older they drift apart from playing with any possible child available and only with kids they have common interests with–so far it works.

    I would say that I am not a normal mom in today’s sense. I’m not overprotective and I don’t pick out their friends. However, I watch all, I know all, I hear all. Nothing gets by me. If I see something that they’re doing/talking about/watching/texting that is inappropriate I have NO problem telling them so. Like my mom says, the worst thing about having been a sneaky kid is knowing all the tricks when you’re an adult. ;)

  2. Christina Baglivi Tinglof

    I nodded all the way through your post. I remember the days of walking up to kids in the neighborhood and saying, “Hi. Wanna be best friends?”

    I’ve always hated arranging playdates for my kids. It seemed too much like dating. Fortunately, they’re very close with the kids across the street–easy access–but they still come to me and say, “Sam’s playing in his yard. Can we call him up and ask him over?” I just look at them and say, “Just go outside and play with him!”

  3. Leah Ingram

    I *so* wanted to be like your mom and my mom, giving my kids the freedom just to be kids when they went outside to play. And that’s why when we bought our first house, we bought one on a cul de sac. Cul de sac equals kid magnet, right? Well, maybe when we were growing up but no so much anymore.

    Of the 10 hours in our cul de sac, only one had a kid close in age to my kids (who were 1 and 3 when we moved in). By the time we moved out (when the kids were 10 and 12), there was still only one kid on the block that was friend material, though he was a boy and I have girls, and they just never meshed. The rest of the houses held DINKs (double income, no kids), DINKs with dogs and retirees.

    If my kids wanted to go outside and play, they had to venture off of our cul de sac and into our 250-plus house subdivision, which was beyond our comfort level because our cul de sac bordered the main drag in the neighborhood, where people simply drove too fast. We ended up having to arrange to take them to friends’ houses–or have their friends come to our house–thus destroying our dream of the “just go out and play” neighborhood.

    We ended up moving across town three years ago, to a dead end street with no kids on it but that is within walking distance of the school my girls attend. I’m still driving them to and from friends’ houses but at least they are old enough to walk home from school now, with friends in tow if they’d like. They never could have done that in our old neighborhood.


  4. Sally

    My husband and I let my 8 year old go down the block with a walkie talkie. He has to check in so we know where he is. He goes to certain neighborhood houses where he knows the kids. We feel OK with it – most of that part of the neighborhood knows him and many play out in the front yard, so they are in the open and a parent usually around. We JUST started this recently and we have not done it much, but I think the independence is important for him.

    To answer your questions, all I do to facilitate my kids’ friendship is ask him who he would like a playdate with and try to set it up. I do not leave him unless I know the family and he is comfortable. Why do I do it? Because he wants to play with certain kids and he is too young to make it happen himself; if I don’t do it, it will not happen. I think it is a good idea IF the kid expresses an interest in spending time with the other child. A necessity? Maybe not, but if they enjoy the company, why not? Why confine them to the next door neighbor if they have a friend they really like who lives further away? How long do I plan to do it? Until he is old enough to do it himself – to initiate the communication (call, text? ugh), set up a meeting time and place, and get there himself by bike or whatever (incl asking me for a ride).

    Just one more thing about the mean kid on the bus. My son likes to sit at the back of the bus where the foul mouthed kids sit. He comes home with all kinds of “colorful” words, phrases and gestures – all of which he tests at home, mostly out of curiosity I think. These kids are not currently being mean to him, but they have been in the past and so I expect them to be again in the future (he has come home with stories of his head having been pushed into the bus seat – lovely). I can’t convince him to sit elsewhere, so yesterday I took this tactic: I told him that these kids are not his friends and made him promise to me that he will remember that. My hope is that if they one day ask him to to do something or go along with something that doesn’t feel right to him, he will refrain. He is not in the sandbox anymore. My coffee and I seem eons away.

  5. edj

    I fall more into the old-fashioned kind of mom, while not being QUITE that relaxed. We live overseas, so friendships are mostly formed through people we meet through work, or through school friends. In other words, a little more involved. BUt when we lived in the US for a year, on a cul-de-sac, I sent them out to play, and in most cases never got beyond a “hello how are things?” with the other kids’ mothers. ANd it worked out great.