My kids are loud. Really loud. This seems to attract the neighbourhood kids. Now, I don’t mind other kids coming to play at our house. I like it in fact. My kids are social things and love company but it got me thinking about neighbourhood etiquette and what level of trust parents place in other parents when it comes to their children.
On the day we moved into the current neighbourhood, a girl of perhaps 6, turned up on our door step. It appears she plays at many different homes in the neighbourhood. I’ve never met her parents and I don’t even know where she lives! And yet for the period of time she is in my home, I’m responsible for her well-being as she is on my property. Honestly, I don’t feel comfortable with the arrangement. What if she was to hurt herself? How could I contact her parents?
On the other hand, my neighbour’s children sometimes jump the fence and play with my children too. The difference is I have met their parents and we have established two-way ground rules and the ability to to say, “It’s time to go home.” For me, this is the correct neighbourhood etiquette. My children are not allowed to enter a person’s home without my permission (and the said parent’s permission). And the children must leave when asked. That’s it.
How do you determine whether you can trust someone with your kids?
A friend’s child was left alone in a park after a birthday party finished early.
I lived next door to young children children who constantly said F****.
Another friend had a neighbour’s child describe the porn games they play at home.
I know children who have been abused by people they thought were trustworthy.
I’m not looking for a paedophile under every rock but I don’t trust, like really trust, many people with my children. I won’t leave them in the care of people I don’t know well (outside of educational facilities).
This is not about being over-protective or hovering over every move my kids make because I do aim to give my children a lot of freedom within helpful boundaries. However, my children are my most precious earthly gifts and, while I don’t believe children should be wrapped in cotton wool, I feel strongly in my primary role as their guardian and the need for me to provide a nurturing environment in which for them to grow and mature.
I rely heavily on these two things:
I can’t protect my children from life but I can equip them. I wrote about Stranger Danger for SuperParents in terms of trying to find the balance between fostering a childhood that is both innocent and aware. I want to both protect my children from harm and equip them for the future; it can be a hard balance to find. You can read the post here: SuperParents — Stranger Danger.
2. Trusting My Gut
Intuition we call it — don’t we? But really, when it comes down to it, intuition is the ability we have as women to take on masses amounts of information: people, situations, body language, emotions, and put them together over time, to get a ‘feel’ for things. We are women; it’s what we do.
I’ve come to trust my gut. Because I know my kids and how they react in certain situations. Because I know that even when I’m a CrankyMum and I feel like I’m bad for my kids, they need me. Because I know I take in a lot without realising. Because they are my kids, my responsibility, my joy, my life.
So do how do I know who I can trust with my kids? I don’t. I don’t know for sure in many cases so I’ve, in essence, taken that part out of the equation. Instead, I trust my kids (not blindly, but wisely) and equip them for the future. And I trust God and the wisdom I have to parent, even if I make epic mistakes.
I love having kids come over to play and I sometimes allow my children to play in other people’s homes (but not yet in our neighbourhood). I trust my gut, equip my children and hope I’m doing the right thing.
Here are my questions to you:
Do you have issues with the neighbours kids or is neighbourhood etiquette practiced?
Is it safe to have a child in your home when you don’t know the parents’ contact details? (help me on this one)
How do you know who you can trust your kids with?