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Ask Coach Jen K. Your Own Question

Coach Jen K.
Coach Jen K., LMSW, CPC
Category: Parenting
Satisfied Customers: 1759
Experience:  Licensed Master Social Worker. Certified Coach Mom of Twins.
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My 5-year old son often plays at my neighbors house - she

Customer Question

My 5-year old son often plays at my neighbor's house - she has 7 and 4 year old daughters. Last week, he went to play with her daughters, and when I went to pick him up 3 hours later, her husband told me that my son was taking a nap. He showed me to their room, where his wife was taking a nap in their bed with my son. I was so shocked that I didn't know what to say, and took him home with me. I'm struggling with how to deal with the neighbor. She and I share carpool, so I must interact with her regularly. My son has asked to go play with them, and when I say no, he throws a fit. Any advice on how to approach the situation is much appreciated.
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Parenting
Expert:  Coach Jen K. replied 2 years ago.

JenKMom :

Good morning.

Customer:

Hi, thanks for speaking with me.

JenKMom :

Your gut is right on this one. This is absolutely inappropriate and I truly feel a sit down with this neighbor is warranted and necessary. I would also suggest that if you do decide to let him play over there that you only do it under your supervision.

Customer:

Nothing else has set me off about her parenting, other than she is a bit of a know-it-all. Her girls can be a bit mean, but I've never had any serious alarm bells go off before. I am not sure how to approach the conversation with her.

JenKMom :

Not an easy situation. Maybe we start off by saying i was a bit uncomfortable the other day when i came to pick up my Son and he was napping and so were you in the same bed. This is not what i want to happen again. Can you please let me know of the details about how this happened?

JenKMom :

What do you think of that?

Customer:

I think my struggle is that I don't know what I want out of the conversation. I'm afraid that it will become emotional if I bring it up with her without a clear idea in my head of the purpose of the discussion. I guess I want her to know that I was uncomfortable with it, and it makes me reluctant to let Seamus play at her home.

JenKMom :

what you sound clear about is your goal of protecting your son

JenKMom :

and to set that booundary for you and your child is crucial.

Customer:

But I'm not sure what I want from her. I mean, I don't really care about an explanation.

JenKMom :

There way may be different but that is not your way and they need to respect that when your child is in their home

JenKMom :

It sounds like you want to hear that it will never happen again!?

Customer:

I don't think that will really help how I feel about it

JenKMom :

Ok so tell me more then I want to be able to drill it down with you.

Customer:

I guess I realize that I need to have contact with her (carpool, next door neighbor), but I don't want to.

JenKMom :

tell me all you feel about it...here you can be emotional you can even scream it to me if you want. Lets go through it together.

JenKMom :

need? not so sure...if you feel something untoward has happened with your Son then you would make other arrangements.

Customer:

This is perhaps a catalyst, but she's just odd. I don't like her. She isn't mean, she is actually quite nice.

JenKMom :

Maybe your gut is telling you something...if you don't like her and you list other nice things about her, that is telling for me.

Customer:

But she is also a bit catty, seems to think she can parent everyone else's children more effectively than their own parents, and she seems very needy - like she wants approval

JenKMom :

well its now time for you to parent her and let her know in no uncertain times that is is never to be in bed with your son again and if he is tired your doorbell or phone should ring and he comes home.

JenKMom :

sorry for the typos....

Customer:

I guess I'm trying to figure out where the boundary is for my relationship with her

Customer:

I can make other arrangements, I just worry about dealing with her hurt feelings and such

JenKMom :

I always like to say when i am protecting my kids I am less concerned with someone elses reaction.

Customer:

I mean, my son is the oldest of 4 kids, and my husband is in Afghanistan, so I need all the help and support I can get. I worry that even raising the issue would burn a bridge with her, and create even more stress/drama that I can manage at the moment.

JenKMom :

You are kind to have that compassion but lets only think of your child here and what is right for him and that is not to be in bed with another adult.

JenKMom :

I understand all of that I truly do. What would your husband say about it?

Customer:

He thought it was pretty strange, as well.

Customer:

Like me, he's not sure what to do with it, other than ask that it not happen again.

JenKMom :

exactly! i am not saying you need to burn a bridge but I am saying the boundary needs to be clear on what you will allow while he is in their home

JenKMom :

Ok how about something like this.....

JenKMom :

I am sure your intentions were in the right place when Seamus was tired and he wanted to sleep, but it is not comfortable for my husband and me to have our Son in bed with another adult. If he is tired when he is at your home please call me or ring the bell so he can come home, and if I am not home please place him for a nap but not in the bed with anyone else.

Customer:

That's fair. How could I keep her response to a minimum? I really don't want her to try and make excuses or explain, or whatever. I just don't care. I guess I also know it's a bit rude to just say what I want and not invite a response.

JenKMom :

Well you can say in a gentle way i dont want this to get between us so please just here me and then lets move on.

JenKMom :

Is there a way for you to be sure that there wasn't any inappropriate touching? I am sorry to go there but I have to bring it up when an adult is in a bed with another persons child.

Customer:

Let's hope she accepts and respects that.

JenKMom :

I can see that the boundary setting for you is a bit difficult, but rememebr it needs to be set. This is your child and you are his protector.

Customer:

I am as close to certain as I would be if it were my sister or sister-in-law. I know one never truly knows, but I really don't worry that any touching happened.

Customer:

It makes me feel like she was assuming my role - comforting and parenting my child.

JenKMom :

Ok and I respect that but I had to ask. I hope you understand that.

Customer:

I do, and I appreciate it

JenKMom :

yes you could be right which is why saying the above is so important.

Customer:

I think that was actually helpful - I do feel like she was taking something from me, that it was not just the act of napping with my child.

Customer:

My anger was a bit confusing to me, but it makes more sense in that perspective.

JenKMom :

I understand your anger.

Customer:

Upset and uncomfortable made sense, feeling like it was inappropriate made sense, but the anger wasn't sitting well

JenKMom :

I think all of the feelings you describe are within reasonable for sure

Customer:

Ok, so this is really about setting a firm boundary with her and expressing my displeasure with the situation. I need for her to (1) hear me say that it was inappropriate and (2) understand that I am his parent, and that she overstepped a boundary. Required action on her part... call me if he is tired, do not put him in bed with another adult.

JenKMom :

Sounds absolutely perfect!

JenKMom :

How are you feeling about it all and our time together?

Customer:

like i have a more structured plan of approach. Sadly a phd in math does not prepare one for this ;)

Customer:

Thanks very much for talking with me today.

JenKMom :

thanks for the smile. I hope out time was helpful and if so please hit accept.

Coach Jen K., LMSW, CPC
Category: Parenting
Satisfied Customers: 1759
Experience: Licensed Master Social Worker. Certified Coach Mom of Twins.
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