What would your mother say….about unruly neighborhood kids?

March 9, 2011 tooboots
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It’s Wednesday, aka Moms Council Day! Here is the question of the week and my answer below. If you want to read the setup, as well as what the rest of the Peanut Gallery had to say, here’s the link. Hit or miss, I’d love to hear what you think….



Scene: You’re playing outside with your children and little Johnny comes along to join the fun…again. He’s a nice kid, but can get overly excited, and even aggressive, at times. He also stays on your side of the block for hours on end, without any parental checking-up-on.

Question: How do you address the situation with the neighbor? Are you responsible for the safety and well-being of this child (in addition to your own) since you’re the only adult present?

My Answer: In my neck of the woods, moms act as cook, nurse, craft leader, playground supervisor and disciplinarian to all children, regardless of whether those kids are her own. I wouldn’t say it’s my adult responsibility to assure the safety and well-being of a child not my own, but certainly my neighborly responsibility. But it’s also my neighborly responsibility to be upfront with the parents, especially if the situation is ongoing. The scenario presented assumes the mother is being negligent with her child. The question that begs to be answered is “why?” Is there a situation that keeps the parent from supervising their child’s outdoor play? Young siblings, work, or illnesses are some possible guesses, as is plain old parental fatigue. If it’s a real situation and I can lend a hand, then sure I’ll be happy to do just that. However, if the mother sees me as a free babysitter in order to chat on the phone or shop online, then it’s an entirely different story. I would insist she be present when her child plays outside, or sadly, discourage my own kids from playing with hers. Who wouldn’t want to be considered Best Mom of the neighborhood, but if the adjective “schmuck” comes with the title, I politely decline.”


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4 Comments Add your own

  • 1. T  |  March 9, 2011 at 6:18 pm

    Holy Cow!!!!!! I sure hope your not talking about Greg………If you are……..I better be getting a phone call soon:)

  • 2. tooboots  |  March 9, 2011 at 7:24 pm

    Goodness, of course it’s not your kid! You don’t really like to chat on the phone and do much of your shopping in person at Costco…

  • 3. literarychicks78  |  March 9, 2011 at 11:10 pm

    I know of a child that was still in diapers when he started wandering the neighborhood alone. He wasn’t an unruly child. He just wanted love an attention and wasn’t getting it at home. Neighbors would have him for hours before the mother would start calling around to find out where her little boy was. Child welfare was called. They let her keep him. So the women of the neighborhood kept an eye on him, fed him, potty trained him, taught him to tie his shoes, helped him with his homework, and watched him until all hours of the night while his mother drank. He’s grown now. He went through some rough spots, but he settled down. He’s a sweet, polite, young man and a daddy with a child of his own. He was worth the effort. Sometimes we have to bear the title “schmuck” for the sake of the child.

  • 4. tooboots  |  March 10, 2011 at 8:47 am

    That little boy is lucky to have a neighborhood of moms to love and care for him…..In this case, the title “Angel” is more appropriate!

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