Help! My Child’s Friend Won’t Leave Our House

October 8, 2013 ‐ By Tanvier Peart

Growing up I can remember my house being the hot spot for practically anything. You name it–sleepovers, a place to pick up snacks, watch television and just take a breather from whatever may or may not have been going on in my friends’ house. Maybe this is why I thought for a long time money grew on trees because my mother (a divorced a new single mother) always seemed to hold things down.

Now, let’s not kid ourselves here; my mother is a pretty nice woman but does have her limits. It was already hard enough trying to raise two children on her own, but to take on an entire neighborhood? Even she had her moments of enough being enough. In fact, I can remember her putting her foot down when some kids outstayed their welcome. “I don’t mean to be rude, Tan,” she always started, “but they have to go home now.” I guess I would be a little frazzled, too if I came home almost every day and had to wonder why I had extra mouths to feed at the dinner table. Are we a small household or community soup kitchen?

As a future new mother waiting for the arrival of my child, I can only think about how I will handle a situation like this should my son’s friend not want to leave our house. Honestly speaking there are many of us who would be so frustrated that our first instinct would be “get out” without a second thought. Hey, we all have those stressful days whether working outside the home or trying to deal with holding things down on the inside. Sometimes certain reactions whether nice or not just come out. It’s my hope that I can try to get it together to focus not on the annoyance (them not going home) but why they chose to constantly spend time in my house.

Unfortunately, we don’t know what goes on behind closed doors or how a parent decides to raise his child. I can remember hearing friends who lived down the block constantly getting screamed at by their parents with words I wouldn’t dare repeat back to my parents, and this is with their windows closed. This could be why those kids wanted to stay as long as they could at my house. Maybe there was no one there giving them positive reinforcement whether they were extra tough or just absent working multiple jobs? You just never know what makes folks tick.

I now realize that things aren’t always as black and white as we’d like to think, no matter how hard we try. Sure, it’s not our responsibility to raise someone else’s kid, but does that mean we instantly turn away children who have outstayed their time at our house? I am sure there will be times when I have to tell my child it’s time for his friends to go home, and others when I will want to spend a little more time with them to figure out why they are spending so much time with us. I’m not suggesting we turn into social workers but just that looking at the bigger picture could help to make things clearer. And should your limits really get pushed, set some ground rules like dinner being family only time or time limits on how frequent your child can have visitors.

Do all the neighborhood kids stay at your house?

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  • oh no she didnt

    I respect the authors issues but the real deal is if you can’t afford to feed the neighborhood say that but don’t stop the children from have a safe place to stay. If I as in that situation I would tell my sons friends they can come over but their parents got to send some snacks with them. walk all the kids back to their houses and tell their parents hey I love when your kids spend time in my home and they get hungry sometimes can you send them with some snacks please….. if they want to stay for dinner can you send your son with his dinner … or share what ever lil you have to share with their friends… sometimes when kids realize that they have to share what they eat they would send their friends home without you telling them or your kids may not mind ….either way providing a safe environment for children is a good thing

  • Myopiniononly,subjecttochange

    Lucky, lucky
    you. So may children are hanging out on their computers and their games, they
    don’t have time to socialize like we did when we were kids. You are definitely
    doing something right when children want to come to your house and hang out
    with your child(ren). I bet a big part of the attraction will be you.
    My Mom spent so much time in the hospital for this and that, I had ‘Mom’s’ like
    you in my life, I still call Mom. I would have been okay alone, but am much
    better off because of Moms like you as an example. As the oldest of 5, I was
    the ‘Mom’ to many of our neighbor kids who wanted to hang out at our house, and
    I was much too young for that role, but because of people like you, I knew what
    to do.

    When I married, I was lucky enough to have 2 children already in the house to
    love. Unfortunately, their Mother died of cancer before I came. (Lucky I had
    children to love, not lucky their Mother had passed, that is a hard thing for a
    child to deal with and I often had the most real dreams where she and I would
    talk and she would ask me to take care of her children). Our house was
    overflowing with neighborhood children and a nephew who would come to visit for
    a couple of weeks at a time. His Mom would ask me to babysit for an evening and
    end up coming back weeks later. This happened until my Brother was granted full
    custody. He still came to visit for weeks at a time, because he loved having ‘2
    brothers’ and his ‘2 brothers’ loved having him. Most of the time, the
    children played outside the house, but still on our property.

    A divorce and a jealous third wife had me unceremoniously tossed out of my
    children’s’ lives. It was the children who decided to call me Mom and I
    was more than happy to be Mom. (Many years later, my ex is on
    #Ilostcount. [The children and I have happily reunited and I am now
    Grandmother to 3 wonderful Grandchildren. It was the children once again who
    bestowed another loving name on me–Grandmom.]

    Fast forward to an unplanned pregnancy years after the divorce, but
    before the reunion with my Sons. I planned, just like you are
    planning now. You know what they say about the best laid plans. My child,
    another boy, has autism and those pictures of socialization I had in my
    head ended up going out the window, when the kids would rather hang out with a
    child who had more language and was more sociable. Luckily, the therapists who
    were young, liked hanging out at my house, and my child had ‘brothers and
    sisters’ or much older ‘friends’ around, but it was not the same as having
    children the same age as he.

    What I am trying to say, in a very long winded way, which happens to be my way
    of totally disclosing all the scenarios I have come across as a ‘Mom,’ or
    “Mom figure” to my own siblings, is you are lucky to have a choice.
    It sounds like you have a good head on your shoulders, and I would bet, when
    the time comes to meet your child, and you first find out what his wants and
    needs are for play dates or neighborhood children in the house, you will both
    come to a decision that is mutually satisfying. Don’t try to save the
    neighborhood before you take into consideration your child’s and your own wants
    and needs, and then your wants and needs as a family. Maybe you will choose
    to go to the movies, the playground, or somewhere else for
    a while each day or several days a week, just the two of you.

    Best of luck for a healthy child, first of all, and one who prefers the company
    of others instead of the company of an electronic friend. The rest will fall
    into place as you discover your own rhythm as a family. You will know
    what to do, of that I am certain, your sensitivity is already showing.

  • Jane

    Yes ,I fully understand this situation. Dealing with it is real hard. They kids continue knocking loudly, ringing door bells and even peeping into our windows. They refuse to accept NO for an answer. Most any one with neighbors and kids of their own will have this problem. Just no escape other than to leave our own homes. Far to many parents allow their children to roam freely. To invade on others privacy. Some even want this is my belief. That relieves them of providing for their own. Speaking to a parent about it can some times help briefly. Wish there was an acceptable way to handle this with out any hurting. None that I have found, yet.

  • I get frustrated with this sometimes but then I remember if they are hanging out at our house, I know where they are and exactly what they are doing.

  • Self-Hating Negro Slayer

    I’m going through that now, and have been for the past year. My sons get home from school, and barely have time to sit down before someone is knocking on the door. Although it’s not as bad as it use to be, but sometimes on my weekends off, I just cannot deal with a house full, and I’ve found myself getting rude. I am a single mom on a single budget and I too cannot afford to feed the whole neighborhood. I will soon be off my vacation and back on nights, and my sons are old enough to stay home alone, but also not too old to stay with their grandparents. I will let them decide on where they stay while I’m on nights…. when I say no one at my house while I’m not here, I mean that… so we will see.