Re the "Bad Influence" Question, What If It Was Your Kid?

Updated on May 11, 2012
T.S. asks from Orinda, CA
14 answers

I was pretty disappointed in the responses to a question asked earlier. A child tells his mom that so-and-so swears and is vulgar, so the mom decides this kid is a bad influence. Other mothers agree and tell her not to have this kid over.
Talk about a witch hunt. I would NEVER pass this kind of judgement on a child unless I had witnessed the behavior myself, or if I had been informed about it by a reliable adult. But just because my kid said so? No. The other kid could be telling his parents the same thing about my child!
This poor kid isn't even given a chance to get to know the family of his friend, he's just labeled. Maybe he IS a brat and someone you wouldn't want your kid to be around but how would you know that without at least spending some time with him? Don't you think it's unfair to make a decision about a kid's character without getting to know him first, especially if it's someone your child clearly likes spending time with?

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So What Happened?

Thanks everyone! I feel better knowing there are lots of us NOT rushing to judgement with only half the story!
And Riley J, I'm so sorry, that just breaks my heart!!! I hope that even if he goes through a rough patch your good influence will overcome in the end, I'm sending you HUGS.

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answers from Phoenix on

I actually replied on there that I think she should have the boy over. That maybe her son could be a GOOD influence on him. They maybe could help him learn what is right and wrong and he could make changes for the better. We actually have been in this situation with a boy that lives across the street. He lives with his grandparents with his brother and sister. They have had a HORRIBLE childhood. Anyway, I would consider him not a good influence on my son. And in fact, they both got suspended from school for a day when they were in first grade. I could have banned them from playing together. However, I decided to sit both of them down. Told them what was right and wrong and what I expected from BOTH of them. I told Austin if he wanted to play with my son, he better behave appropriately or he would not be allowed to. For several months when they were playing, I was with them. Everytime they said or did something they shouldn't, I corrected both of them. I would remind them, "we don't say that or we don't do that" and correct them. There was a HUGE improvement from Austin. He even started to do better at school and get better grades. Now they play together with very little problems and I still remind them that we don't touch each other and we talk nicely to each other. This has been for the last 3 years. So it is possible to step in and be a good example to others...we have done it. =)

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answers from Dover on

I had a friend who had a child we called, "mean megan". She was the kind that would break your toys, kick you when no one was looking. These people actually didn't get invited to group activities because they wouldn't control their kid and she was a nightmare.

I actually found that having her there with my kids when her parents weren't there was a night and day difference. She just needed boundaries and discipline. Once she was in our home, knew the rules and knew I would inforce them, I never had another problem with her. She was actually WAY BETTER.

I don't think it's a bad idea to invite the boy over, although I wasn't on to respond to that post. Just state the rules and make them stick. Give him a chance to be a likeable, well behaved child.

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answers from Seattle on

This will probably BE my son this coming year. His father now has half custody, and has not only taught him to use the vilest language period (c word only tips the iceberg), but his dad doesn't like 'kid shows', so has him watching Futurama, family guy, The Saw, The Walking Dead, etc. my sons behavior and language has grown wildly inappropriate both sexually and in language.

He's going to lose friends, period.

I KNOW this, and it hurts.

He's also going to end up gravitating toward kids whose parents don't give a rip, because they'll be doing the same stuff he is (and reinforcing such stellar conduct).

This is the same kid who holds doors, helps toddlers on the play structure, says please/Thankyou and means it, puts tons of thought into what he does for people, donates part of his allowance to summer lunch programs because he HATES the idea of hungry kids, saves money for telescopes and science lectures, always includes younger siblings of his friends, will go a mile to make someone laugh, is always the first kud to dive in and break up a fight, drops what hes doing to help whenever anyone needs a hand....

The same kid who the FILTHIEST things are coming out of his mouth, and whose sexual behaviors at the age of 9 would have him arrested in 5 years because dad thinks its 'funny'.

This coming year is going to be VERY hard.

It just makes me cry when I think of it. I couldn't even read the bad influence Q.

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answers from Spokane on

Mamazita ~ I completely agree with you.

Last year there was a mean kid that harassed, bullied and hit my son. This year, they are best friends.

His parents got him some help and things are so much better and we chose to embrace this child and he is an absolute joy to have in our home. He is a completely different child at school too and he has even apologized to my husband and I about his behavior last year. If we had just told our son no more contact, etc. our son would be missing out on a great friendship with this child. We have gotten to know the parents and have learned the struggles they were dealing with.

You just never know until you get involved and I firmly believe each child is precious and deserves a second chance!

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answers from Houston on

I only responded the way I did to the first question because we HAVE witnessed that behavior by our sons classmate. It was like watching an episode of Leave it to Beaver, when Wally would come over and be so nice to the parents and then turn....
We had overheard several things being said that we brought up with our son after his guest had left, our son confirmed and that boy isn't welcome here any more. Our son isn't comfortable with the boy saying the things he was saying. There is no need to 'get to know him first..'
No witch hunt, just the facts.

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answers from Kalamazoo on

I agree!
Kids are kids and pretty much only do what they learn! That doesn't make them "bad". I would want to see his behavior first hand and go from their. Maybe they could have play dates, but very closely supervised. I tell my kids that the "bad" kids at school (they tell me stories of fighting or so and so is bad because they got in trouble) are acting out for a reason - either bad home life or some other sort of stress. It doens't make them a bad person, they are just a child doing what they know to do. When a person (child) knows better, they do better. And probably all the more reason why a "bad" child would need "good" friends to lift them up and show them a positive realtionship and behavior!!!!!

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answers from Columbus on

I'd want to have the "troublemaker" over for a playdate, so a) I could judge for myself, and b) I'd be able to supervise if needed.

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answers from St. Louis on

good point, & I think children like this are brought to God's way to find help for them. Or at least that's what my best friend says when I'm stressed over a child's repetitively destructive behavior.

Kudos to you for standing up for this child's rights....even if it is a piggyback posting! Good for you!

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answers from Redding on

I agree.
Neighborhood gossip should be taken lightly.
Experience is the best way to get to know someone.

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answers from Boca Raton on

Mamazita you make a good point.

One of my kids, when he was younger, didn't have quite the "filter" the other one had. I'm pretty sure a homeschooling mom we knew "branded" him a trouble-maker. That being said, this mom was so hard-core rigid that I wasn't that eager for my son to be around them anyway.

I know I come across hard-core here sometimes. But we're actually pretty laid-back and low key. And we moms here can only go by what another mom presents as facts.

But I agree that we need to consider other angles too.

Good point. Your post hearkened me back to when we were on the receiving end of some labeling LOL.

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answers from Chicago on

Yep - that's why my advise was for the mom and dad to have conversation with their son about why he liked Travis..... and what makes a good friend. And to let their son decide who he wants to be friends with.... rather than to ban him.... otherwise he will rebel.

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answers from San Francisco on

I totally agree and like some other ladies, I like the idea of trying to be a good influence. Hats off to the Moms and families that have taken in the "bad" kids and seen a change. Sometimes it just takes one friend or family to change a kids. I really think that is special and inspiring.

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answers from Canton on

We have a few kids in our neighborhood that are like that. And we're the only ones in the neighborhood that will let them over. We just tell them the rules of our house and if they break them, they have to leave. At the first instance of bad behavior, we remind them that we don't act / talk like that in our house. If it happens again, we tell them it's time to go home. Once we send them home the first time, we usually don't have to do it again. Kids learn pretty quick. If the kid in your situation (I didn't read the original post) really is a bad kid, maybe his parents aren't parenting him. Or maybe you're right and the other kids could just be lying about it because they don't want to play with him for whatever reason.

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answers from Honolulu on

This is why I answered that post the way I did:

I'm on campus at my kids' school regularly.
I also work there.
I know the parents and kids there quite well.
I answered that post, according to my knowing my own kids and trusting them... and knowing which kids they tell me about and per other kids' behaviors or trouble at school. I also, regularly talk with my kids' Teachers and know them and ask them, what they think of a certain kid who had caused trouble or in relation to my child.. Before I make my own perceptions of them.
Thus, when/if my kids tell me that so-and-so said such-and-such, I believe them... and also discuss with them about the scenario/what happened/what was said/what they think/what the teacher did per the other kid's behavior or incident etc. So that, they too can ascertain or assess, the scenario and behavior(s) of the other child.
My kids are not the types, to make up stories about other kids.
I know them.
I trust them.
And per my own knowledge of the school/parents/other kids, and my own observations.... I know that my kids are not making up stories. If anything, I will also ask the Teacher if so and so, did do a certain questionable behavior.
I don't bad-mouth other kids.... when speaking to my own kids about so called trouble-makers on campus. BUT, I teach them about how to discern what is appropriate or not. And they understand.

So in that light, that is how I responded to that posting.
I had assumed, that the parents in that post, knew about "Travis." And know their own child enough to trust him. Like I do with my own children.

Ditto Jim At Home Dad.

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