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Old 04-08-2009, 10:22 AM   #1
smkiya
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OT - Am I A Bad Mom?

I have a 4 year old daughter. Last summer we got some new neighbors. Across the way a 5 and 6 year old girl and directly across the street a 4 year old girl. We live on a fairly quiet cul de sac. My daughter has become friends with these girls.

She will go to their house to play or they will come to our house to play. Now that the weather is warmer they are playing outside more often. I usually sit by the window in the living room to watch dd play outside. The kids are out fairly late, and I've allowed her curfew to be 7pm (is that too late?).

Even though we live on a cul de sac, the other parents allow their children to play in the street. I don't feel comfortable with that, and have many times yelled at dd not to. The girl across the street disregards my request and plays in the street anyway, and my dd will sometimes follow her. In the winter the girl across the street (we'll call her Eve)was eating snow and my dd followed, I told her not to and I get, "but Eve does it". DD told me that she was eating grass, and I told her not to do that and she said, "but Eve does it". On Monday she was out after the rain and Eve and dd were drinking from puddles, I told dd not to do that and of course she says "but Eve is doing it".

If it were up to Eve's mom they would play from sun up to sun down. I think at some point children need to spend time at home, and should not be over someone's house or outside for hours at a time, especially at 4 years old. Am I wrong? Am I being an unnecessary drill sargeant? I want dd to stay within a certain area so I can see her, as in this day and age you can't trust people and children disappear all the time.

Am I wrong to tell my dd to not do things that 'kids do', that she can't play outside or at her friends house all the time (even when we're not doing anything at home), to stay out of the street at ALL times even though we live on a cul de sac, is 7pm too late for a 4 year old to play outside? I feel like a mean parent but I want dd to be safe and she is only 4 years old after all. Why does she need to be out all day and into the evening? What do you think?

Eve's mother seems to think that kids should be free to play all the time. Well my dd goes to preschool 3 full days a week, I work 12 hour shifts on Sat and Sun (7am to 7:30pm) so I don't get to see her much on weekends. On school days as soon we pull in the driveway from school her firends are running up to the car so she can come out, and the only 2 full days during the week we have together her friend expects her to be out playing with her. I'm 8 months pregnant and don't have much energy, so when we are home together even though we don't 'play', I still enjoy our time together. Am I being selfish?

Last edited by smkiya; 04-08-2009 at 10:37 AM.
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Old 04-08-2009, 10:38 AM   #2
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A few dirrerent issues here. First, the biggie to me is your question about if your DD should be able to use "but the other kids do it" as an excuse. In my opinion--no she should not. It is much better to do as much as you can to stop that now (they will always try it) than wait until the issues are much bigger ("but all the other kids can have boy girl sleep overs" or whatever). Just tell her that Eve's family had different rules than your family does. Try not to criticize Eve's rules in the process, just tell her yours are different and she has to follow your rules. End of discussion. Repeat as needed (lots)

As far as the "curfew:" You know your child and how much sleep she needs and when she needs to be up in the morning and how long it takes for her to wind down at night, etc. Call her in whenever it makes sense for you to do so. Again, Eve's family likely has different rules. Maybe they are night owls. Maybe Eve sleeps best when she has played outside all day. Who knows? Not your call, but your kid is your call and it is not unreasonable or mean to expect a preshcooler to be in by 7:00 (a lot of preschoolers are already into the bedtime routine by then).

As to if you are being "selfish:" Well, if your DD really wants to be out playing a lot and when inside you are not ever doing anything fun with her, maybe a little. But if she is getting plenty of outdoor time with her friends (say an hour each day) which your post amkes it saound like she is, then, no. Too much of any one activity is not good for anybody. Teach her to also enjoy quiet activites with you and to entertain herself sometimes etc. In the long run you will be doing her a favour. Then again, when the new baby comes along you may be grateful for the time she spends happily playing with her new friends out of doors (assuming she is following safety rules like staying out of the street, etc.)
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Old 04-08-2009, 10:43 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by smkiya View Post
I have a 4 year old daughter. Last summer we got some new neighbors. Across the way a 5 and 6 year old girl and directly across the street a 4 year old girl. We live on a fairly quiet cul de sac. My daughter has become friends with these girls.

She will go to their house to play or they will come to our house to play. Now that the weather is warmer they are playing outside more often. I usually sit by the window in the living room to watch dd play outside. The kids are out fairly late, and I've allowed her curfew to be 7pm (is that too late?).

Even though we live on a cul de sac, the other parents allow their children to play in the street. I don't feel comfortable with that, and have many times yelled at dd not to. The girl across the street disregards my request and plays in the street anyway, and my dd will sometimes follow her. In the winter the girl across the street (we'll call her Eve)was eating snow and my dd followed, I told her not to and I get, "but Eve does it". DD told me that she was eating grass, and I told her not to do that and she said, "but Eve does it". On Monday she was out after the rain and Eve and dd were drinking from puddles, I told dd not to do that and of course she says "but Eve is doing it".

If it were up to Eve's mom they would play from sun up to sun down. I think at some point children need to spend time at home, and should not be over someone's house or outside for hours at a time, especially at 4 years old. Am I wrong? Am I being an unnecessary drill sargeant? I want dd to stay within a certain area so I can see her, as in this day and age you can't trust people and children disappear all the time.

Am I wrong to tell my dd to not do things that 'kids do', that she can't play outside or at her friends house all the time (even when we're not doing anything at home), to stay out of the street at ALL times even though we live on a cul de sac, is 7pm too late for a 4 year old to play outside? I feel like a mean parent but I want dd to be safe and she is only 4 years old after all. Why does she need to be out all day and into the evening? What do you think?

Eve's mother seems to think that kids should be free to play all the time. Well my dd goes to preschool 3 full days a week, I work 12 hour shifts on Sat and Sun (7am to 7:30pm) so I don't get to see her much on weekends. On school days as soon we pull in the driveway from school her firends are running up to the car so she can come out, and the only 2 full days during the week we have together her friend expects her to be out playing with her. I'm 8 months pregnant and don't have much energy, so when we are home together even though we don't 'play', I still enjoy our time together. Am I being selfish?

The first thing I would do is talk with Eve's mom about your observations re. playing in the street, eating and drinking inappropriate things when outside, etc. At this age, I would insist the girls play in the yard instead of the street (even on a cul de sac). If Eve's mom doesn't agree and present a united front to her daughter re. this, then no more playing with Eve. Period. As far as eating snow (I did that as a kid), grass and drinking from puddles (never did that), I wonder if Eve is doing it to gain attention, or if it's something more involved than that. There's a disorder called pica where people eat and drink non-food items. People don't usually take kindly to others giving them advice, but I would find a way to gently address this with Eve's mom. If she's not aware of Eve doing this, she'd probably be grateful to you for making her aware. Personally, I think 7pm is an appropriate curfew for a 4 year old.

If you and your daughter aren't doing anything in particular, I'd let her play. Some of my fondest memories are of playing with the other kids in my neighborhood when I was growing up; we were outside and at each other's houses constantly. She's developing social skills, and you can start to teach her that just because someone else is doing something, that she's her own person and doesn't have to do the same thing. If you're fatigued and they're playing outside, I'd pull a lounge chair into the front yard and park myself in it to keep an eye on them.

I'd love it if my kids were outside playing and had friends in the neighborhood. DS18 is a typical teenager; he goes to movies sometimes with friends, but loves to be in the house playing PS3 online or on his computer. DD8 has autism/asperger's syndrome, so has a lot of trouble socially with kids her age. She's shunned by neighbor kids because they think she's "weird". My sister has an autistic daughter who started middle school this year. The first day of school she sat with a group of girls for lunch; when she sat down, all of the other girls (except for one) got up and moved to a different table. It turns out the one who stayed has a brother who's autistic. My point is that encouraging your daughter to play and forge friendships now is an important stepping stone to social relationships later in her life.
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Old 04-08-2009, 11:41 AM   #4
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First off, I don't think you need to feel defensive about your decisions regarding your child. It really doesn't matter if others agree or not; you have to do what you feel is in her best interest even if that is unpopular at times. The time will come when there are issues much stickier than whether or not to play in the cul-de-sac and it's better to teach her early that You're The Mom, That's Why.

The only comment I would have is to try to look objectively at some of the rules once in a while and ask whether you need to allow any leeway. I have three girls (7, 6 & 4) and occassionally I find myself reassessing a little bit and deciding the reason I say No to something is just because "I've always said no". Sometimes I reevaluate and decide, well, okay, maybe she is ready for such-n-such now. This is esp. true with my oldest as it's easier to gear everything to the littlest one's needs, but I try to remember she needs more independence.

IOW, I get used to things being a certain way and forget they are growing and changing and may be able to try something new. Does that make sense? Obviously this doesn't include drinking out of puddles () but, say, the issue of the cul-de-sac. Maybe instead of a blanket No, you could say "you can play there for 1/2 hour while I watch you from the porch" or something like that. Or pre-arrange for one weekend night to let her stay out an extra 1/2 hour as a special treat. When she goes to Eve's house, be sure you set a time limit beforehand ("Have a great time playing but you need to be home for lunch at 12:30") so no one has the expectation that it's an all-day affair. Vice-versa for when she's at your house. And if someone comes to play and you want your DD to yourself, just say "I'm sorry, she can't come outside right now. She will come over when she can." End of story, no further explanation is required.

Good luck & congrats on your new little one on the way!
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Old 04-08-2009, 12:28 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NU2WDW View Post
The only comment I would have is to try to look objectively at some of the rules once in a while and ask whether you need to allow any leeway. I have three girls (7, 6 & 4) and occassionally I find myself reassessing a little bit and deciding the reason I say No to something is just because "I've always said no". Sometimes I reevaluate and decide, well, okay, maybe she is ready for such-n-such now. This is esp. true with my oldest as it's easier to gear everything to the littlest one's needs, but I try to remember she needs more independence.

IOW, I get used to things being a certain way and forget they are growing and changing and may be able to try something new.

Or pre-arrange for one weekend night to let her stay out an extra 1/2 hour as a special treat. When she goes to Eve's house, be sure you set a time limit beforehand ("Have a great time playing but you need to be home for lunch at 12:30") so no one has the expectation that it's an all-day affair. Vice-versa for when she's at your house. And if someone comes to play and you want your DD to yourself, just say "I'm sorry, she can't come outside right now. She will come over when she can." End of story, no further explanation is required.
Great advice. I've been trying to let go a little bit at a time, it just seems that she is growing up so fast.

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The first thing I would do is talk with Eve's mom about your observations re. playing in the street, eating and drinking inappropriate things when outside, etc. At this age, I would insist the girls play in the yard instead of the street (even on a cul de sac). If Eve's mom doesn't agree and present a united front to her daughter re. this, then no more playing with Eve. Period....

People don't usually take kindly to others giving them advice, but I would find a way to gently address this with Eve's mom. If she's not aware of Eve doing this, she'd probably be grateful to you for making her aware....

If you and your daughter aren't doing anything in particular, I'd let her play. Some of my fondest memories are of playing with the other kids in my neighborhood when I was growing up; we were outside and at each other's houses constantly. She's developing social skills, and you can start to teach her that just because someone else is doing something, that she's her own person and doesn't have to do the same thing....
I'm a little apprehensive about bringing this up to Eve's mom, because we obviously have different opinions about child rearing. Instead, each day I find myself incorporating a little 'real world advice' into the conversations I have with dd, and try to reinforce them as much as I can without being overbearing. I want her to know that she can come to me and talk about things (like the grass eating) without being afraid.

I too have lots of great memories of playing outside with friends, and you are right to point out the important point of social skill building.

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Just tell her that Eve's family had different rules than your family does. Try not to criticize Eve's rules in the process, just tell her yours are different and she has to follow your rules. End of discussion. Repeat as needed (lots)....

As to if you are being "selfish:" Well, if your DD really wants to be out playing a lot and when inside you are not ever doing anything fun with her, maybe a little. But if she is getting plenty of outdoor time with her friends (say an hour each day) which your post amkes it saound like she is, then, no. Too much of any one activity is not good for anybody. Teach her to also enjoy quiet activites with you and to entertain herself sometimes etc. In the long run you will be doing her a favour. Then again, when the new baby comes along you may be grateful for the time she spends happily playing with her new friends out of doors (assuming she is following safety rules like staying out of the street, etc.)
I just used your advice (different rules, etc.), almost word for word (THANKS!!!)... I intend to use it again, and again...

Her outdoor time can extend from 1pm until 7pm some days, and I feel bad when I'm the only parent who says it's time to come in. Especially when dd has her nose pressed against the window watching the others play outside. I expect it to get a little worse in the summer, when school is out. I'll have to have a gameplan, especially because I can't be outside all day with a newborn.

Anyway, I knew this would be a great place to pose these questions and thank all of you for the fantastic advice. I've found the Disboards to be a second home, and now truly know the real magic of Disney.
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Old 04-08-2009, 12:50 PM   #6
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The only comment I have is about the eating: I would not be as concerned about the snow as the puddles and not as concerned about the puddles as the grass .

Lots and lots of kids eat snow and I've met a few who drink from puddles esp if they go hiking/backpacking/do a lot of outdoorsy stuff. But the grass scares me. I'd mention this to Eve's mom. Let her know that Eve and your dd ate grass and did she know Eve was eating grass. Don't be accusing, just say "Did you know the girls were eating grass the other day? I told dd that it wasn't healthy habit because you never know what's on the grass, some people put chemicals on their lawns such as fertilizer, etc. and some people let their animals go to the bathroom on the grass which may be bad for you. But thought you might want to mention this to Eve as well."
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Old 04-08-2009, 02:22 PM   #7
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We have had a similar issue with our kids wanting to always be outside with the kids in the neighborhood. In their toddler / preschool years it was fine because us mommies would always be out with them and used that as our social time too. I noticed a difference once they all started school. Three families out of four attend different schools, and that changed the picture quite a bit.

Also the start of extracurricular activities came into play and impacted the time outside. What I have found in the past year or so is that two of the families seem to have a closer bond, which my children have a hard time understanding. They don't get it when they see their friends going across the stree and into the other house why they can't go to. In some ways it's easier but in other ways more difficult.

The summer seems to be hardest, since my kids (DS7 especially) require 10 hours of sleep and will not sleep in, no matter what time they go to bed. In the summer we shift their bedtimes to about 9pm but very often all the other kids are out still as I'm trying to herd mine in the door. Makes for some tantrumy times.

Whatever solutions you find work for you, even if you are not loving all the interaction with the neighbors, all of the time, just realize that in they next couple of years it will change and change again as they grow and develop other interests.
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Old 04-08-2009, 03:26 PM   #8
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One more little suggeston for the upcomming summer months: now (before you have a baby to tote to the store) stock up on a number of fun indoor activities. Especially look for quiet things you can do togther (while the baby naps--but that may also be a good time to take the baby monitor out to the yard while you watch her play) and things she can do alone. I found it worked really well to put about 75% of the kids toys away at any one time and put out different ones each week when they were so young. Toys they hadn't seen for a few weeks were much mre appealing, and the choices were less overwhelming (and so was the mess after play time!). They actually played with everything more that way. Maybe if "new" toys are comming to the shelves often and their are some fun crafts (finger painting, sculpting with pipe cleaner, play dough, sculpting with spaghetti and mini marshmellows, etc.) indoors will seem more appealing when you do want your DD to come in
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Old 04-08-2009, 03:41 PM   #9
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hmmm
I would be tempted to say things like

Animals poo and pee on grass. Do you want to eat poo or pee? No than don't eat grass.

Drinking from standing water is dangerous. If its on the road oils and gases are in the water. If its on grass it could contain fertilizers or lead from the soil. I would just tell her those things are dangerous and could make her sick and unable to play with her friends.

I think 7pm it plenty late. Also I would want her to e able to entertain herself so she doesn't become dependent on having others amuse herself.

good luck
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Old 04-08-2009, 03:55 PM   #10
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We all feel like bad moms, sometimes. Don't sweat it.

Personally, its been my experience that kids that young need supervision in the yard, in the street, whereever. Why not drag out a lawn chair and let her play in the circle while you watch? Not only will you teacher her safety, you'll also help all the kids negotiate cooperative play.
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Old 04-08-2009, 05:34 PM   #11
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It's nice you have kids around

I'm a SAHM (with a part-time job late at night), and it seems like we're the only ones in our neighborhood all day long. Today, my DD 4 and DS 3 were out playing for 2 hours alone. It's the first time I let them run in and out of the house without being right there with them and they did really well. My DS 3 is very mature for his age and his older sister is always watching out for him.

But, it seems like both sets of parents work full-time in my neighborhood. It's a ghosttown during the day, which is a little sad/strange. It gets a little better during the summer though.

Good luck with Eve -- I wouldn't like my kid eating that stuff.
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Old 04-08-2009, 06:51 PM   #12
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I do think 7pm is too late for a 4yo to be playing outside. I don't think 4yo children should be outside playing unsupervised at all. An adult should be out there with them, IMO.

Upon reading your post my first thought of was poor Samantha Runion. I think she was about 5yo when she was taken from her front yard. If her grandmother had been outside with her, instead of inside the house, that poor girl would still be alive today.

And eating the grass? Grass is for animals to eat, not humans.
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Old 04-08-2009, 07:09 PM   #13
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Quote:
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I'm a SAHM (with a part-time job late at night), and it seems like we're the only ones in our neighborhood all day long. Today, my DD 4 and DS 3 were out playing for 2 hours alone. It's the first time I let them run in and out of the house without being right there with them and they did really well. My DS 3 is very mature for his age and his older sister is always watching out for him.

But, it seems like both sets of parents work full-time in my neighborhood. It's a ghosttown during the day, which is a little sad/strange. It gets a little better during the summer though.

Good luck with Eve -- I wouldn't like my kid eating that stuff.
Maybe I'm reading this wrong-you let a 4 year old and a 3 year old outside alone for 2 hours? Have you seen the news lately? That little girl's body in California was just found in a suitcase! Is your 3 year old "mature" enough to scream, yell, tell a stranger "NO", and run?
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Old 04-08-2009, 07:25 PM   #14
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Maybe I'm reading this wrong-you let a 4 year old and a 3 year old outside alone for 2 hours? Have you seen the news lately? That little girl's body in California was just found in a suitcase! Is your 3 year old "mature" enough to scream, yell, tell a stranger "NO", and run?
Noooo... First, I was playing with them and weeding the yard outside. Later, I went in for a bit (it was cold) and they were coming out and in every few minutes and I was right there watching them. I was just saying I wasn't out the whole time like I usually am. They were in my backyard playing a baby animal game they made up (it's a small backyard) and I was just at the patio door in case they needed me.

I'm always really involved with them, but I just want them to be a little more independent and do more imaginative play together.

Plus, like I said, no one is ever around our neighborhood during the day. I guess my whole point was that the original poster is lucky to have kid's friends around. That's all.
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Old 04-08-2009, 08:14 PM   #15
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i think the fact that you are worried about being a bad mom is a good sign that you are a caring and loving mom. no worries there!

it seems you are facing the age old problem of parenting your child while in association with others with a very different parenting style. my dd is only 21 months so we still have quite a bit of control over what she does without too much worry about the mental side of the argument - i therefore can't give you tried and true advice. i'm so sorry not be be truly helpful.

the one thing i can say is that you have to believe in your own parenting style and enforce it. don't sacrifice what you believe to be right just because someone else is letting their kid do things that you don't approve of. i wouldn't hesitate to use the old standby line of "well, eve isn't my child now is she?" lol! didn't we all hear that growing up? there must be a reason for it's popularity among our parents! (my bff and i are have very different parenting beliefs so i'm sure we will use that argument many times in the future as our little ones get older...)

good luck and stand strong!
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