Parenting K-6 Kids/bad friend of my kid
We recently moved into a new small town. Everyone here is close-knit but it happens that we started up a friendship with some other newbies who happen to really click with us. They're wonderful people and we started having them for dinner, etc. and their daughter is 6 years old and has started coming over to play with my 5 year old. The problem is that their kid is a little wild-child. They were all over for dinner yesterday and I heard my 3 year old screaming. I ran over and found the 6 year old literally having a tug of war with my 3 year old's security object. I asked what was happening and their kid literally said, "I asked her for her frog, I even said please and she said no so I grabbed it from her so I could have it. I said please!" She did the same thing with my 5 year old's security object she found in her room and actually ripped it! My kids don't behave like that (in fact they've NEVER behaved like that) and since this is my 5 year old's first friend I'm new to how to handle other people's kids. Of course I took the special objects away and put them out of reach but my question is what am I allowed to do as a hosting parent? Could I have told her that behaviour was unacceptable in our house? Should I have "tattled" on her to her mom so the mom could handle it? Am I allowed to tell her next time she comes over that there is to be no tug-of-wars with ANY objects or any rough behaviour with any objects? I already explained to both my girls that if this kids grabs something don't tug back because clearly she won't give it up. My kids were raised to use words and typically when one of my own kids grabs something the other doesn't want them to have they just say 'no' and the object is given back. This kid wouldn't give it back when they said not to take it and my kids didn't know how to handle it. I'm not sure what to do here - my husband and I have a great opportunity to connect with people we really seem to be getting along with but we really dislike the way their kid is and in any other circumstance we simply wouldn't allow her over any more. But they're destined to have more dinner parties, they're wonderful people (though clearly suck as parents)....how do I handle this kids poor behaviour? how do I handle the adult friendship side of it?
Years ago, all adults were generally accepted authorities for all kids. They were imbued with a moral obligation to discipline any child who broke common rules of decency. Indeed, on another adult's summary of a transgression, parents usually visited an additional "consequence" to the offending child. Nowadays, political correctness has stolen many of the tools parents and adults in general had available to manage situations like the one you describe.
In building your new friendship with the parents of the "wild child", it might be best to share with them your uncertainty about handling the situation. You are quite articulate in detailing the children's actions and reactions. Part of the friendship among the adults is the sharing of principles and beliefs. This is an opportunity to learn more about each other and perhaps to build a foundation of shared beliefs. It is possible, of course, your beliefs and theirs may differ so widely that friendship cannot grow.
To embark on this adventure, you might ask your new friends how they suggest you handle these behaviors - both in reaction to what has already occurred and for similar events in the future. Listen carefully, add your own take, then honestly detail your beliefs. Who knows, your approach may turn out to be a valued learning experience for your friends. A six year old can learn much from her parents' insistence she apologize to her playmates for her behavior.
Hope this is helpful.
Alan M. Davick, M.D.