I know I’m not the only one.
You know who I’m talking about. You totally hit it off with the parents and so you decide to bring the families together. Things are going great at the beginning and then it happens. Their kid just hit your kid or said something cruel or totally just walked all over their own parents. You politely smile, nervously laugh, and contemplate your next move.
Total fluke, right? Nope.
You try again and this time things are even worse….or at a minimum, no better. Strike two.
The easy thing to do would be to find polite ways to be “busy” every time the opportunity comes to hang out. But really, Cam, what am I supposed to do? Not an expert here, but here’s how I have and would handle it.
Don’t Avoid Them
I’ll admit this is my first instinct. To create a safe bubble for my kids to play that includes only children with pleasant demeanors and good manners. This will definitely get them ready for adulthood (sarcasm).
I’ve found that empathy works best in this situation and presents an opportunity to teach my kids. For instance, there may be some underlying reasons for bullying, aggressive behavior, or other unpleasantness. I don’t shy away to help explain some of these reasons to my kids. It also teaches them how to be kind when others aren’t being kind to us. And in turn, their modeling of that may begin to influence the other children.
The bottom line is we’re doing neither set of children any favors by only associating with like-behaved children.
Recognize Your Kids Aren’t Perfect
Hopefully, you’ve seen firsthand how your children can behave and realize they are capable of unpleasant behavior. Have you seen hangry kids near dinnertime? It’s witching hour in our house!
Inherently we’re all selfish people and so we act out of that as children (and even adults, surprise!). The whole point of this section to recognize it’s not just the “others” but all of our kids are capable of behavior that would make us cringe.
By acknowledging our kid’s capacity to misbehave will make it easier to extend compassion to other parents.
Create Necessary Boundaries
There are instances where the safety of your kids is more important than hurt feelings, so in which case, create necessary boundaries. It may mean that an adult is always present in the room, or they play within view of the adults, or there is never an opportunity for children to be one-on-one. Meeting in a public place to get together may be helpful too because it’s easier to leave a public place than say…your own home 😉
This may be a rule you have with your family (and oblivious to the other family), but whatever the case, you know what would be best for you and your kids.
Talk to the Parents
You knew this was coming. You know how I feel about confrontation.
If the problems persist and you inevitably will be in each other’s lives then it’s time to bring all the adults together for a conversation.
I personally know of friends who have had to have these awkward conversations. These have gone from great conversations (where the parents were receptive and open to suggestions) to horrible (where the parents denied any wrongdoing by their kids and blocked you on Facebook). Sounds appealing, doesn’t it?
I have no idea what the context of your situation may be and it may be wise to avoid a confrontation (ie if you see the family infrequently). I do know that you can never go wrong by making an honest effort to address issues for the purpose of resolution. Oh, and check your ego at the door.
Modeling all these concepts is so important and it begins with us parents. We have to show them how we respond to difficult situations in constructive ways so they may, in turn, do the same as adults. The only caveat to these points is to talk to the adults themselves, and not their parents.