Is This Friendship Worth Saving?

A reader writes:

For the last couple of years, I have watched one of my neighbors children occasionally for various reasons. We had  long conversations and got along great even if we didn’t really “hang out.” I thought everything was going fine.

Toward the end of the year last year one day when I was home and she and her husband were home and our kids were playing outside, we stopped the kids from throwing rocks at passing cars. My husband instructed all the other kids to go home and we discussed how best to handle this. We had no idea which child started it and they all seemed contrite, so later I sent an email stating, her kids were still welcome in our home and as friends but this was the situation and we did not allow that kind of behavior and thought she and her husband should know that all the children were participating so they could have the appropriate conversation with their kids as we did with ours. 

After the holidays, we have noticed them not around as much lately. I didn’t think much of it until one of their older children got off the school bus the other day and asked me if my kids were sick saying his Dad had told him they could not come over to play because they were sick. My kids haven’t been sick at all so I wasn’t sure why their father would lie to them. I simply told him, no they were not sick and had not been sick. Since then, the mother has seemed to be avoiding me and announced on facebook they hoped to be moving out of the neighborhood this year and that she had no other alternative but to put her younger children in full time daycare.

I considered them friends, but I’m not sure how I can broach the subject to see if my email has made them pull back. I was in no way attacking their parenting, and explained our children were part of the shenanigans too. I feel bad but I can get over losing a friendship with the parents, but I would hate if it meant my kids lost friends as a result. Is this friendship worth trying to patch up?

Well, it’s hard to say, unless these are your children’s only friends and there are no other children their ages in the area or neighborhood, then an olive branch might be a nice gesture, but of course, it’s up to them to respond.

From what you describe, I don’t think sending the parents an email explaining why their children were sent home and that you would not allow that type of destructive behavior is grounds for terminating a friendship. I know I’ve done the same thing. But, there are some overly-sensitive parents out there who are very insecure about their parenting abilities who will take anything as an attack. And even those of us who are more confident have our weak days when an email like that might just hit wrong, no matter how nicely worded.

I do think your neighbor’s lying to their children about your children’s health is problematic, but it might blow over. I would give it a week or two and see how things turn out.

I certainly would not take their family’s decision to move out of the neighborhood personally or the choice to put the younger children into daycare instead of relying on you. More than likely there are other bigger issues going on leading them to those choices.

So, Moms of the interwebs…do you have any suggestions for this reader’s question?