Post # 1
For all you parents out there with young children, I was wondering if you could shed some light on situation for me. This may turn out to be a pretty lengthy post, so please bear with me.
My husband and I recently moved to a new area of town. There is a couple with a 5 year old little boy who lives next door to us. The little boy is always clean and his clothes look neat. However, I’m concerned because he always seems to be out in the front yard without any kind of parental supervision. He’s always playing in the street outside (we live in a cul-de-sac) or riding his tricycle around. I have never once seen one of his parents outside watching him while he’s doing this.
He will frequently come over to our house and ring our doorbell asking to play with our dogs or to talk. A few weeks ago, he came over at about 5 in the evening and wanted to play with our dogs. I walked over to his house and spoke with his dad to see if it was okay with him. I didn’t want him coming into our house without his parents being aware of where he was. His dad said it was fine, and mentioned that his wife would probably be starting dinner soon. I left his dad with my cellphone number, told him to call me when they were ready to eat, and I would walk his son home. His son hung out at our place for 3 HOURS. During that time, his parents never called nor showed up to come get him. Finally, at 8pm, he said that he was hungry, so I went ahead and walked him home. His parents were on the couch watching TV. They didn’t seem concerned that he had been gone for so long, and it didn’t look like any dinner had even been prepared.
This last weekend the weather was particularly nice, so my husband and I spent all day Saturday in our front yard doing yard work and painting. Again, the little boy from next door came over and hung out in our front yard with us. He was with us in our front yard for over two hours before his mom came outside looking for him. It just strikes me as strange that this boy is so young, and yet his parents don’t seem at all concerned with his whereabouts.
I’m not a parent myself, so I know I have no place to criticize anyone’s parenting, but this just seems odd to me. I just feel like, if I had a kid that young, I’m sure I’d notice him missing before 2 hours were up. And I don’t know how comfortable I’d be with him playing in the front yard without any kind of supervision. Does this strike anyone else as odd? Should I say anything to his parents, and how should I bring it up? Or should I just keep quiet about it?
No negativity needed, please. I’m honestly not trying to criticize anyone’s parenting methods. I just feel like this boy may not be getting the attention he needs from his parents and it concerns me. Thoughts?
Post # 2
His parents let their child be at a stranger’s house WHO DOESN’T HAVE ANY KIDS OF THEIR OWN for three hours and never checked up on him. They sound pretty unfit. Your neighborhood may be generally safe and they may be inclined to allow him some freedom to roam but their lack of due diligence would be concerning to me.
ETA- I am very much a fan of the idea of a village raising kids and children being safe to go play at the homes of their community members, but it doesn’t sound like his parents know you at all and you do not know them so that would be problematic for me. My mother always had the phone numbers of the parents of my friends and called to make sure 1- that it was okay for us to come over and 2- to check them out and get to know them a bit before sending her kids into their homes.
Post # 3
I’m not a parent either but I have friends with kids and I definitely don’t think it’s normal. I have no idea what I’d do in this situation though so I’m interested to see what other bees have to say.
Post # 4
Depends where you live.
Growing up I was ALWAYS outside, no supervision. I always hung out with an older couple that lived next door because I loved their gardens and dogs. I latered learned they were a couple who couldn’t have kids so they LOVED having the neighbourhood kids over to teach them about gardening. I also always played in the forest in our backyard without supervision, my only rule was that I always needed to be able to see the house so I wouldn’t get lost. Our neighbourhood was a tight knit community where everyone watched out for everyones kids
Post # 5
One of my coworkers was just telling me yesterday that when he was young he was driving through a neighborhood and hit a toddler who was playing unsupervised outside when he ran in front of his car. Thankfully the boy was ok but neighbors said they had warned the mother often to not let him outside without watching him.
My parents’ neighbor used to have their son, his wife and grandson live with them. We saw their grandchild from the time he was born but around that same age he started coming over to do the same things that you mentioned. One time he came over when my stepdad was home alone and hung around a bit before asking to use the bathroom. When he was in there he yelled for my stepdad to come help him wipe himself. My stepdad refused and basically told him to figure it out. Once my mom came home she was horrified because something like that could obviously be taken out of context and was worried that he could be accused of being inappropriate with the child. She told my stepdad to never let him in if she wasn’t there and I think she eventually had a talk with his parents. Even though we knew each other for years things can always happen and its best to keep know where to draw the line.
Post # 6
I grew up in cul de sac and lived in one until quite recently with my two sons. What you’re describing sounds quite normal for both areas.
Post # 7
This is neglectful to me. There is no way I would let my 5 year old go hang out with the neighbors for hours, especially if I hadn’t checked with them first. That’s lazy parenting. They are expecting you to take care of their child. And it sounds like they don’t know you. You could be child abusers/molesters and they wouldn’t know it.
Post # 8
Definitely not normal. Letting a five year old hang out with strangers in their house for hours without checking on him? No way. I grew up running around in the countryside alone or with my sister for hours without supervision, but this is a totally different situation.
Post # 9
5 is way too young for this!
Post # 10
Maybe it was normal two generations ago but in this day and age, those parents are being irresponsible. As mentioned, there is a lot more going on here than just a lack of supervision outdoors, too. No dinner, trusting complete strangers etc. It’s neglectful.
Post # 11
Absolutley not ok. They are lucky you are a good person and not a deviant. But that’s just lucky on their part because they don’t know you and left their child with you unsupervised for 3 HOURS.
I know a lot of people used to play outside unsupervised and things were fine. But surely those parents knew the community, still at least CHECKED on you occasionally and fed you dinner.
Seriously, this is unacceptable. If you are ok with it I would be making sure he is safe and fed. If you are still uneasy I’d probably try to get to know the parents and if all of that fails I’d probably call someone, at least for some advice.
Post # 12
I’m a mom, grandma and this isn’t normal in my eyes. They sound negligent and the poor little guy sounds lonely, my heart goes out to him. You and your husband sound like kind, caring people but sadly you seem to care more about him being safe or fed than his own parents, how heartbreaking.
Post # 13
When I was a kid we roamed the neighbourhood for hours and spent lots of time at the neighbours houses, but there are a few things that are different about this that make it very odd to me:
1) He’s only 5. (Even 7 or 8 would make more sense)
2) it’s just one kid – when I was little there was minimum 2 of us playing, but usually 4-6. Then at least if something happens the other kids can come get help
3) Not checking on him periodically
4) They don’t know you at ALL and have made no attempt to get to know you even though their kid has taken an interest in you (my parents immediately started befriending the neighbours when all of their kids started hanging out together)
5) They left him with you for 3 hours in the evening without making sure he was fed. 8pm is bed time for most 5 year olds
Post # 14
weddingmaven : wolfeyes :
All of this. I too grew up in a different era where kids were generally allowed much more freedom than is the norm today- but even so, there are still several key differences. As wolfeyes says- a 5 year old wouldn’t be off on their own, they’d be with other kids and likely an older brother or sister (otherwise 7 or 8 would be more the norm for hanging around with friends). Not only were there a lot more kids around, but people knew their neighbours much, much better- other adults in the area were more akin to aunts and uncles, not strangers you barely knew. And the parents still cared where their kids were at suppertime. I am so, so sad for this little boy.
Post # 15
- Wedding: County courthouse
I think it depends what control you live in. Definitely not ok here in the US. My kids are 8 and 5. We also live in a cul de sac, and I never allows my kids to play our front without me watching. Now that fenced in back yard, yes I do, but I open the sliding door and leave the screen door closed. So I can at least hear them. I also chceck up on them regularly. This isn’t normal at all.