I have received several questions for my new series “What Would tiffani Do?” and have decided I don’t want to wait to post my responses so I am going to answer the questions as they come in. Here is the first question I received.
Recently a family moved in next to us. They have a little boy that’s seven years old (Johnathan) and he occasionally talks through the fence to my son who is three (Justin). Johnathan has been asking for my son to come over and play. I am a little hesitant because he is so much older than Justin but I figured if I talked to his parents maybe I could set something small up or I could try to explain that the age difference made me a little unsure. Every time I ask to speak to Johnathan’s parents, he says they are in the shower/not there/ or some other excuse to as why they are too busy to talk to me.
Wednesday Johnathan’s mom started sticking her head out the back door to her house and telling him to get away from the fence. I took it as maybe she was uncomfortable about the age difference too. Then today things reached a whole new level. Justin was outside playing and I was on the porch. He was talking through the fence to his little friend and Johnathan wanted my son to come play. I told him they couldn’t play together until I talked to his mom and he left the fence. I waited to see if maybe he was actually going to go get his mom but it had been about ten minutes and he never came back. I stepped inside to get the broom and heard the gate open (my gate latch is way up and my son can’t reach it). I walked out to see my son stepping through. First, I was shocked and ran to the front yard. Then, anger rose up in me so fast. The little boy next door opened the gate and let my son out!!! Johnathan was standing there with a friend who looked about nine or ten and with my son.
I told Justin to get back into the house immediately and told Johnathan they couldn’t play together unless I talked to his mom and not to let my son out the gate again. He said he only wanted to play football. My three year old against a seven and nine year old? Yeah, I don’t think so. They had company over and I didn’t want to start anything then so I went inside with my son and explained what went wrong and why they couldn’t play together. Once the cars in her yard left, I went knock on the door but of course no one answered.
What can I do? I have tried to talk to them but my neighbors don’t seem to want to put forth the effort. I can’t trap my son in the house because I am afraid of him leaving the yard again. I am really at a loss here.
If it were me, I would try a new approach. Clearly Jonathan’s Mother could care less about meeting you or making sure her son is properly watched. I would stop focusing on the Mother and put my efforts into building a relationship with Jonathan. Invite Jonathan over to play at your house and never let him out of your sight. I get the feeling his parents don’t pay much attention to him and he could care less that your son is only 3, he may just be desperate for attention and is bored stiff.
Once he is in your home, spend some time talking to him while he is playing with your son. Figure out what his motivation is in wanting to play with Justin.
In my mind there are only few possibilities as to why Jonathan wants to play with your son who is so much younger than him.
1. He has no one else to play with and is bored?
2. He is a really bad kid and has intentions of hurting your child either physically or sexually?
3. He is delayed in his social development?
I get the feeling he is a good kid but has no discipline or guidance. Next time he pops his head over the fence, let him know he is welcome in your home, but that your son is not allowed to leave the house, the backyard or to play at his home until further notice. I would then invite him over and observe how he plays and figure out his intentions. Never let him leave your sight and explain what activities they are allowed to play and not play. If your mommy intuition tells you he is a nice kid, but just misguided allow him to play at your home. I have the feeling that if you do these things you may find out he just wants some attention.
Kids love guidance, rules and direction, and it sounds like you are a really great Mom who has a hard time realizing not everyone cares about their children the way you do.
Hope this helps because this is what I would do.
Remember I am not a trained professional, just an educated Mom who has an opinion about most things in life. If you would like to submit a question you may contact me here: or just email me at firstname.lastname@example.org