cgiustin@att.net's picture
cgiustin@att.net

Friend's Husband Insulted My Family

Hello:

Perhaps someone can help sort this out. My family includes myself, my husband and our two boys, ages 7 & 6. We've known another family for about a year and they have one boy, also age 7. Over the last year we've known this family there have been a number of occassions where situations have been exagerated, especially when their son is accidentally hurt.

On one occassion my older son was having fun after his baseball game and chased a couple of the boys with a baseball bat. This happened on one occassion and nobody got hurt. He was just messing around. Afterward, however, my husband and I spoke to him about this behavior being unacceptable. According to this family, however, my son has done this on a number of occassions. They have mentioned it at least five times to either me or my husband. I feel that there is too much attention focused on what they feel is my son's "negative behavior". Their son is no angel either, and if he has inappropriate things in his hands I will remove them to keep the boys safe when they are playing. Is this not normal boy behavior and isn't it the parent's responsibility to teach children right from wrong?

Recently my older son picked up a gardening tool that was left outside our home in the backyard and started approaching this boy with the gardening tool. He told me later that he was not going to hit this boy, but was just trying to get him to stop calling him an idiot. Anyway, an adult saw my son pick up the tool and removed the gardening tool from his hands. Nobody was hurt. However, this seven-year old boy reported to his parents that my son was swinging the tool at him. After they left our home for dinner I received a call from the mother that she was canceling the sleep-over play date because her husband was concerned about his son's safety at our home. Their son has never been seriously hurt by my boys and so I'm insulted and hurt by their decision. I've decided to leave well-enough alone and sever the relationship, especially because this family is hyper-sensitive when it comes to their only child. Has anyone else had this happen with another family judging your parenting? Did we make the right decision by discontinuing our friendship?

Additionally, I should add that this family takes their son to the emergency room, pretty frequently, from my point of view. Recently it was because their son swallowed a penny. They seem like nervous parents, especially the father. He seems like he has a lot of fear in him. I recently found out from a mutual friend that the father was adopted. I don't know what age. I assume this is where all of his fear comes from.



SnglDad's picture
SnglDad

So, your son believes that it is fun to chase someone with a baseball bat? Your other son feels that picking up a gardening tool and threatening someone with it is a fine way to handle a problem. One swing from a baseball bat or even most gardening tools is enough to kill someone. You make excuses for your children threatening this child with bodily harm, and blame the other child for being too sensitive. The excuses you make for your children will only enable this behavior. If I were the father of the other child I would feel the same way.

acitez's picture
acitez

You need to take a protective stance for all the children involved. That means VERY close supervision anytime the boys are playing together. You may have a higher tolerance for rough housing than the other parents.

I agree with SnglDad that anytime there is threatening behavior, with toys, tools, or fists, that you need to intervene and teach your boys that it is not acceptable. I had a neighbor boy who ended up in Juvenile Detention for a month because somebody was calling him names and he "stood up for himself." He still frames it that way, his parents never got through to him that you don't respond to words with fists.

tamz's picture
tamz

I bet some well adjusted and brave people, who have been adopted, might take offense to your assumption that this father is a fearful parent because he was adopted; That's just silly.

This father is fearful because his child was intimidated with a bat and a garden tool.

The parents have every right to cancel the sleep-over and I would do the same. You have excused your boys behavior as innocent so they probably ask themselves what else would you excuse?

bbdad's picture
bbdad

Without being at the incidents it is hard to comment. However, as a baseball coach I have stopped the younger kids (6-7) from "sword fighting" with the bats after a game and spoke with them about appropriate handling of bats. There was no actual threat. But then you have to be "on scene" to make a call like that.
Shovels and other yard tools are dangerous and I would be concerned if they were in the hands of rambunctious boys.
If it were me, and the family of the boy with the shovel were fairly good friends I would have spoken with the parents, expressing my concerns/fears about the aggressive play and yard tools being with easy reach of kids before I terminated a relationship. Again, not knowing the couple's history it is hard to say.

SnglDad's picture
SnglDad

To play with bats as if they are swords is mutual, you cannot sword fight alone. To chase someone with a bat can be intimidating. The mother has told of two incidents where her children have used foreign objects to intimidate, but has admitted that her friends have said it has happened more.
It is not necessary to be present at the event to be able to give advice about it. The mother asked for advice on the information given. I do not need to know how a watch is built in order to look at it and see what time it is. If the people judging an incident had to be present at that incident before they could judge it, our judicial system would be nonexistent. It is possible to take a set of facts and come to a conclusion without being present.

cgiustin@att.net's picture
cgiustin@att.net

I guess I wasn't clear in my earlier post. My older son has done each of the incidents mentioned earlier on one occassion. These parents, however, had exaggerated the situation to suggest my son was doing it on a regular basis, which couldn't be further from the truth. I am not condoning the behavior as acceptable and my son was told that this type of behavior is not acceptable because somebody could be seriously hurt. I believe that these experiences are learning experiences for my son as well as my family. Children need to be told what is acceptable behavior and what is not. I don't believe that a seven-year old boy necessarily understands that a bat can hurt someone. He does, however, need to be educated that his behavior can make others feel uncomfortable and that a bat could seriously hurt someone. Even though boys will fight with swords, they need to understand that someone can be seriously hurt by using items other than toys. I believe that I acted appropriately on each of the two occassions by removing the object from my son and talking to him about his behavior. He is only 7 and can't be expected to automaticaly understand unless a child is either hurt or an adult points out that his behavior could cause someone to get hurt! My point in mentioning the exagerated statements from this other family is that no child is perfect and there seemed to be a focus on any negative behavior from my son, rather than seeing that he is a normal 7 year-old boy that needs guidance. He should not be labeled as "unsafe" or a "monster" for picking up these items. I've seen this family's son with a long stick that could have easily poked somebody's eye out, but this family fails to recognize their boy's behavior as "normal boy behavior". Parents need to educate their children, especially boys that tend to have a lot more energy. I agree with the earlier post that perhaps a better course of action would have been for the family to let me know that they were uncomfortable rather than cancelling the play date all-together, which seems to have severed our relationship. I have to admit I'm suprised by some of the posts to my comment. It seems that everyone's child, other than mine, acts perfectly 100% of the time.

SnglDad's picture
SnglDad

You asked for opinions, and got them. Just because you do not like the opinions does not mean that you did not get sound advice. No one on here that I am aware of has ever stated that their child is perfect. My children are 10 and 8, both love playing baseball, and both love going shooting at the gun range with me. Prior to allowing my kids to handle a bat, or a gun, there was a long lesson in how to properly handle each. You do not wait for a situation to arise before you teach your kids what is inappropriate, and how you expect them to behave.

"He is only 7 and can't be expected to automaticaly understand unless a child is either hurt or an adult points out that his behavior could cause someone to get hurt!"

This statement that you made is exactly the kind of attitude that will get kids hurt. No one expects a child to automatically know what is right and what is wrong. We do however expect that child’s parents to know and to be responsible enough to teach their kids prior to someone getting hurt. If you believe that a child needs to get hurt in order to have an example to teach your kids by, it’s no wonder that the father does not want his son to come over. Your statement only solidifies my belief that your attitude is enabling your child’s behavior.

cgiustin@att.net's picture
cgiustin@att.net

Single Dad: You're kidding me right? You sound like a very angry man. The majority of boys play baseball and I don't believe for a second that parents explain to their children the dangers of using a bat improperly prior to seeing the child use it improperly. Why would a parent know or expect a child to swing a bat improperly, especially if it is their oldest child and the parent has never been exposed to such a situation. I'm suprised you're comparing playing baseball with taking kids to shoot guns. Like I said, I guess your kids are perfect and you're a perfect dad, that's why you spend all of your time on this website answering everyone else's dilemnas. The fact that I chose to believe that kids should be allowed to play and intervene when necessary does not make me a bad parent. I believe kids should have some breathing room and should not be told how to behave every second. Obviously that is what goes on in your household.

SnglDad's picture
SnglDad

I won’t apologize if being a responsible parent, or if expecting others to be responsible makes me sound “angry”. Whether you believe it or not is of no concern to me but before I allowed my kids to use a bat; I explained to them the dangers of misusing a bat. I have no desire to see another child injured because I was too lazy, or did not exhibit enough common sense to explain to my child that a baseball bat can very easily injure, or even kill someone. Even though I have never been hit by a car, I still taught my children to look both ways before crossing the road. Did you teach your kids the same lesson, or are you waiting for the situation to present itself and then hopefully correct it in time to prevent a tragedy?
I did not compare playing baseball to shooting guns; I did place the handling of a bat in the same category because both can be dangerous if mishandled. I have never stated, nor do I believe that my kids or I are perfect. My kids have all the breathing room they need. My definition of breathing room does not include allowing them to do whatever they want at the risk of others. Most every weekend my kids are spending the night at their friend’s homes, or their friends stay the night here. Parents trust me enough to allow their children to come to my home and stay the night; that’s a responsibility I take seriously. I have never had a parent cancel a stay over because they were worried that my kids could hurt their children. Can you say the same?
Please tell me how you came to the conclusion that I spend all my time on this website answering everyone else’s dilemmas?

cgiustin@att.net's picture
cgiustin@att.net

Single Dad:

I'm not interested in continuing this with you. You obviously have a problem with women. Your kids obviously don't roughhouse or do anything that is not considered "adult" behavior. When children get hurt roughhousing I guess you would also consider the parent irresponsible for permitting that behavior because it's expected a child will get hurt. Your examples are ridiculous. You sound like the neurotic father that I mentioned in my post. Everything is a big deal with you and you will argue every small point to the extreme. I have children over my house all the time and with the exception of this family have never had a play date cancelled. I cited two examples that were not the normal at my home and you have gone on and on about this picking apart my posts. I guess because your children are not allowed to act like "normal kids" my issue won't ever be a problem in your home. Good for you Single Dad.