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New Neighborhood Pariahs

New Neighborhood Pariahs

By Amalah

Amy,

My family moved to a great neighborhood 6 months ago. All the neighbors and kids were eager to meet and hang out. My kids 7 and 10 yrs old play every day outside with all the kids. However, there is one girl, our neighbor who is 10, that constantly clashes with my 7 yr old. Both my family and her family have tried to “let the kids figure it out” but apparently my husband has been bottling up the angst from each offense.

Yesterday, he exploded. The girl next door, 2 times, hurt my younger daughter. Once by purposefully excluding her. The neighbor girl invited everyone inside her home and told my youngest daughter she wasn’t allowed in. Then again the neighbor girl hit my youngest during a game of tag. As I said, my husband exploded. He came to me for help before addressing the neighbor girl. I stepped in before damage could be done and tried to get the story from all sides. My husband lost his temper and shouted “bull shit” at the neighbor girl after she gave her side. I asked him to leave. I didn’t condone his behavior, it was completely inappropriate. After he walked away I told the neighbor girl that his behavior was not appropriate and he should not have spoken that way to her.

Fast forward about 4 hours. My kids went to their sports and we had just returned. I found the neighbor girl’s mom pacing my driving. After telling my oldest daughter to go inside, the neighbor mom proceeded to curse me out and yell at me for my husband’s action. (My husband was still gone at sports with my youngest daughter.) Then told me that all the neighborhood parents knew what he said. She then insinuated that no one from our neighborhood would ever play with my children again.

I tried to talk to my neighbor, civilly, but she was beyond ticked off and resolution wasn’t what she was after. She just wanted to yell and scream at someone in my family for the curse word that had wrongfully been flung at her daughter.

How do I go on? I have a stubborn, prideful husband that refuses to admit wrong doing. I have a neighbor that I used to have a friendship with, that won’t speak to me. And now there are 10 kids in my neighborhood that potentially aren’t allowed to play with my kids. As an example, today there isn’t any public school. Normally kids would have rung my doorbell by 10am to get my kids out to play. It’s after 1pm as I write. The neighborhood kids are outside playing but my kids are inside. I’m afraid that if I tell my kids to go outside and play, that all the other kids will tell my girls that they aren’t welcomed. 

I will add that my children are homeschooled so neighborhood friends are critical to their social networking.

Any insight would be invaluable.

Your stubborn and prideful husband needs to A-P-O-L-O-G-I-Z-E. Like immediately. In person, to both the girl AND her parents. He need to ask for forgiveness and promise that it will never happen again, because he is taking steps to make sure it will never happen again, preferably with the support of an anger management class.

I mean, seriously. I curse like a mothersailin’ sailor and have ABSOLUTELY stepped in and scolded other people’s children for unacceptable behavior (pushing, name-calling, general jerkiness, etc.). My mama bear instincts run as deep as anyone else’s. And yet. And yet! I cannot imagine losing my temper and brain-to-mouth filter so much that I would scream an obscenity at a TEN YEAR OLD CHILD.

I recognize that you are not making any excuses for his behavior and you fully see it as unacceptable. But JUST as unacceptable is his refusal to make it right. On behalf of your children and you, whom he has ALSO wronged every bit as badly as the girl next door. He has embarrassed his family, put you in a situation where YOU were yelled and cursed at, and is now endangering his children’s social lives because…he won’t admit that he did anything wrong. After losing his temper and screaming a curse world at a child. Who was not his child. Um, that was wrong. Full stop.

Look, I get that this girl has been challenging. She doesn’t sound very nice. But your kids are going to meet more non-nice kids who hit and push and other little Queen Bees who enjoy excluding others. It’s unfortunately part of growing up, and I certainly doubt you’re teaching your kids that the proper way to deal with challenging people is to get super mad and yell bad words at them.

Which is why I went as far as to suggest that your husband has an anger problem that needs to be addressed. This won’t be the first or the last time your children face some social injustice. And the whole big picture of him bottling up each offense and taking it so personally that a too-forceful YOU’RE IT! during a game of tag sent him off the deep end of seething anger at a little girl is super disturbing.

My kids have been hit and pushed and excluded and come home from neighbor’s houses in tears or anger over OMGSOSERIOUS I’MNOTHISFRIENDANYMORE who knows what. It’s HARD, man. But we’re the grown-ups and we have to act like the grown-ups. We let them cool down for a bit, we talk about it, we decide whether it requires the grown-ups getting together to talk, or if the offense will be completely forgotten on the next day off from school. Sounds like the two of you confronting this girl together was a bad idea, since she probably felt cornered and was thus more likely to try to spin/lie her way out of it, because that’s what kids DO.

I’m veering into pointless “woulda coulda shoulda” territory here because what happened can’t be undone. But make no mistake the blame is 100% on your husband here, even if we accept the mother’s reaction as over-the-top and unhelpful. (It totally was! But if we even if we go that route we’re gonna end back up at “BUT HE STARTED IT!) I’m sure the other parents heard about it, so I believe you that the lack of knocks on the door isn’t a coincidence.

I mean, I have to admit that if some man I didn’t know all that well came into my yard to scream a curse word at MY 10-year-old…yeah. I would probably not react very well to that. I would be very very upset about that. I’m not the screaming/confronting type but I would definitely feel more comfortable if my children kept a safe distance from him. I wouldn’t directly punish the children but would likely pull the “they can come here but you can’t go there” move. Because WTF dude. Not cool. 

Unless, perhaps. He apologized. Not you, HIM. Humbly and honestly, to my child. Turn the whole mess into a teachable moment about how grown-ups get angry too and make bad choices and say things we don’t mean, when really we all just want to be friends and treat each other kindly. (You know, like how you want this girl to treat your daughter.) I wasn’t being kind to you and I am so, so sorry. It will never happen again and I hope you can forgive me, and that we can all be friends.

They might not even accept the apology. But he has to try. He. Has. To. Try.

If he can’t sack up and do that, however, I really don’t know what else to say. Maybe it’ll just blow over eventually and the kids will forget about it, but his refusal to make things right at the time would remain VERY concerning to me.  That says something very unsettling about his character, that his pride and refusal to admit he’s wrong takes precedence over your family’s place and comfort in your own neighborhood. Not to mention that YEAH, what he did was wrong, and as parents we expect our kids to apologize when they do something wrong. Please accept nothing less from your husband.

Photo source: Photodune.net

Published February 8, 2016. Last updated July 16, 2017.
Amalah
About the Author

Amy Corbett Storch

Amalah

Amalah is a pseudonym of Amy Corbett Storch. She is the author of the Advice Smackdown and Bounce Back. You can follow Amy’s daily mothering adventures at Ama...

Amalah is a pseudonym of Amy Corbett Storch. She is the author of the Advice Smackdown and Bounce Back. You can follow Amy’s daily mothering adventures at Amalah. Also, it’s pronounced AIM-ah-lah.

If there is a question you would like answered on the Advice Smackdown, please submit it to [email protected].

Amy also documented her second pregnancy (with Ezra) in our wildly popular Weekly Pregnancy Calendar, Zero to Forty.

Amy is mother to rising first-grader Noah, preschooler Ezra, and toddler Ike.

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