Dreading a Playdate

Elizabeth - posted on 05/30/2013 ( 3 moms have responded )




Hi All-

I'm a nervous wreck. I have a neighbor whose son my son's age. They are friends and get along reasonably well. My problem is not necessarily with him but with her older son who has impulsivity issues (my son also has ADHD) and "feels bad" (or so she says) when he does not get an invite to come over and play with the two boys. The problem is, every time the older child comes over, SOMETHING of my son's gets destroyed. He also produced a drawing of him stabbing a cat at one point (and I have two cats.) The mother offered no consequences that I know of for the breakage of toys or the drawing (chalking it up to "boys will be boys") that I know of (she also has another smaller child in the home.) I dread it when the weekend rolls around and I get the communique for a "play date." Another thing that bothers me is that the child who is my son's age is a bit nervy and disrespectful and asks to come over ALL THE TIME. He addresses me by my first name--even after he's been asked by his parents to add "Miss" to the name. I've gone out of my way on some occasions to deliberately avoid them after school so I don't get the "I was thinking about having a play date..." (YES, SERIOUSLY!) and "when can I come over?" I really like mom, it's just some of the behaviors of her children that I cannot handle. I'm afraid to say anything because people have tried to do so before and she sees it as an attack on her children. Help!


Rebekah - posted on 06/01/2013




I love Evelyn's idea of meeting somewhere else on neutral territory. That should help diffuse some of the tension you are feeling.
Though you know, I'd also encourage you to try ways to assert yourself and draw some boundaries. If the nervy younger son addresses you by your first name, I'd explain to him myself (if you haven't already) that you are to be called "Miss Elizabeth" (or whatever you like) have him restate his question to me using the form you want to be addressed with--use a sense of humor with it rather than be intense about it and he'll probably respond pretty well. Just keep doing it repetitively every time he "forgets" what to call you and he should get the picture. If he's trying to invite himself over, just defer the response to the adults... "Your mom and I will have to talk about the next best time you can visit." If the older son is coming over, be proactive and put away the toys that are more fragile or hard to replace (electronics, etc). If they notice that those toys are not available, I think its fine to point out that you notice that when the 3 get together, play can get rough, so they are not out for use until you can see (over time) that they can play more carefully with the toys that are out. Consequences! If artwork pops up with violent images, I would matter-of-factly point out that we love our animals and we don't do drawings like that here...then redirect them to something else. You are still allowed to have house rules of your own when other kids come over. Enforce them.
Avoiding them may feel like a solution in the moment, but you know its short-term. It may be good to say "no" to her periodically and just be less available if you feel like the relationship is getting strained due to the behaviors of her children. I don't suggest you lie, but if she brings up yet another playdate and you aren't feeling good about it, just say you have something else going on (and then do plan something) or say you need some family time.
And of course, the ultimate in assertiveness would be to talk to her.... I fully get that its hard to have a conversation like that, and you heard that its gone poorly in the past. However, who knows how kindly (or not) people have presented it to her? She is a mom...of course she is going to defend her kids. Your son has ADHD (does the older boy have that diagnosis too?), so relate to her on that level...share with her the ways you can understand that dealing with your sons' behaviors can be a challenge sometimes and you realize they don't always have good impulse control. Talk about what has worked as you've parented your son and listen to her as she talks about her experience. See if there's a willingness to work together to help set limits for the boys in general... because even if "boys will be boys," boys still need limits. It is not a free for all. It really doesn't do this woman (or her boys) any favors to passively say nothing. But I think its all in how its presented...not blaming her or them...but letting her feel supported such that she knows that you are coming from a place of compassion. Maybe she's overwhelmed too with handling her son's behaviors (is that why she sends him over to your house?) and would welcome some understanding. ?
If she truly isn't open to that, make a decision about what you are willing to do and tolerate. If she isn't willing to guide her kids in a way that you feel aligns with what you are trying to do as a parent, set boundaries and reduce the time you spend together. Hope things improve. Tough situation.


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Ev - posted on 06/01/2013




As Little Miss said, have it at their house or even go to the park. Also try activities sponsered at the local library but meet her there. Do you have a Chuck E Cheese place? You would not have to buy pizza but take the kids to play in their ball pits and sky tubes and maybe a few games or rides? Have a soda with mom? Go mini-golfing? Hiking? Biking? There should be some other alternatives to just going to each others homes for a play date or play time together.

~♥Little Miss - posted on 05/30/2013




How about having the play date at her house instead so you can leave any time you like, and non of your stuff gets destroyed?

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