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August 16, 2008

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Everything you're doing/thinking sounds right on, CJ. I'm awed by your thoughtful responses to this difficult situation. Feel free to disregard this, as I'm sure there are many details you haven't shared about this neighbor, but if it's at all reasonable I feel like I would invite her over for dinner. I haven't followed the comments, so maybe someone has already suggested this. I'm imagining that if she spends any amount of time with your family she will seriously re-think her actions. Also, putting yourself in the frame of mind to receive her as a guest in your home might go a long way towards helping you forgive her. However you handle this, I will be reading and admiring your family. Blessings to you all.

In my career in children's music we have done some work with Stranger Danger programs and it's amazing how difficult it is for kids to learn how to yell and make noise when they need to. It is so trained out of them that sometimes they literally are not capable of shouting and drawing attention when they need it. We have a song "Sometimes You've Gotta Make A Little Noise" that talks about this issue.

We were struggling at our house with how to instill respect for adults without unintentionally teaching our kids to do everything every adult tells them. We borrowed a DVD called "The Safe Side" that my kids (ages 5 & 3) really enjoy and that we've all learned from. Yelling when a "Don't Know" approaches is one of the video's tips. My three year old LOVES to practice screaming, "This is not my mom/dad," but my five year old, not so much. I wonder if they were actually in a situation like your son's would they yell and run away?

You write so well, have you considered just sending your neighbor a letter? You can express your forgiveness and let her know that by confronting and restraining your son, she became the danger she was trying to protect him from. You also avoid the potential drama of a face-to-face encounter and give her a chance to digest what you have to say.

For a host of reasons, whatever you do I think you should wait until the CPS thing is resolved.

On a lighter note, I love your story about school supply WMD's! My oldest boy (age 33) would have sided with all 5 of yours too!

I keep reading this post without commenting - because I'm not sure what or how to say. I guess what it comes down to me is that yes, she deserves courtesy and respect, but that respect does not include the right to touch my kids. I think you're on the right track - but it's not easy. But nothing about this situation is all that easy, is it?

I think you are doing the right thing as well. I have continued to struggle with how to teach my daughter to respect her elders and at the same time know when to tell someone to back off. She is only 11 months, so I have some time!

My main concern isn't strangers. It is people she knows. I'm not worried about someone specific, but most of the time, harm, in many forms, comes from someone the child knows. I struggle to know how to explain to her, that while you need to respect your elders, occasionally it is ok to tell an adult "No!"

Boy, I used a ton of commas in this!

It sounds to me like you've got a great handle on the situations. What else can you do? Move? You have to hope that she has, perhaps, seen the error of her ways. In the case that hasn't happened, you have properly equipped your children to deal with her if the need does arise. Good job! I'm glad you had that police officer speak to her. I don't think anything else is necessary.

I am not ready for you to express forgiveness for this person. Just Not. (I was going to write, "maybe you don't have to express forgiveness right now" but then figured, just tell the truth: I'm not feeling forgiving on your behalf.) In the interim, if I felt the need to do something positive and not-broody (when my brooding would trend toward the sweet-sweet-revenge-scenario), I would find out what the kids and I could do locally to help children in foster care in our community.

You know, the kids for whom CFS actually need to act.

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