I made a huge mistake! - FamilyEducation
I made a huge mistake!
09/02/2007 at 07:41 AM

The other night I confronted the neighborhood bully.  He is 13 years old in 8th grade.  He is also our nextdoor neighbor.  We moved in our house 5 years ago.  My two boys are 5 and 9.  The 13 years old neighbor has never been nice to my 9 year old.  I used to sit outside and watch my kids play for safety purposes so I saw everything that was going on.  The bullying was subtle and quiet.  This child acts overly sweet to adult but than is the ringleader of mean with the other neighborhood kids.  He is the oldest of the group so commands the authority.  My 9 year old is the youngest(but I think he is mentally at the same level).  I bite my tounge when I see the bad behovior from this other kid.  Once about two years ago I confronted him and told him what I thought of him(no bad language).  I knew after I did it that it was the wrong thing to do.  All of the other kids hated my kids for a while. My kids did not go outside and play for the entire next year.  I joined them in a lot of activities to keep them away from the kids on the block.  Well for the past few months I allowed them to go out and play and the other kids seemed to be accepting them.  My 9 old is now in football has lost about 10 lbs(he was a little over weight) and has a new found confidence.  I try not to go outside when they're playing so I don't get involved.   This seems to have been working pretty well.  WELL OOPs I did it again!  I happened to go outside just to check and make sure everything was going ok(it was dusk and my son had his best friend from school over)  when I got outside the  13 year old neighbor was up to his old tricks.  He was chasing my son down the block with is bully friends.  I stood there and just glared and I thought he got the picture because he stopped walked the other way.  Than later I went outside again and he was across the street with my son and the other kids and he was following my son in circles telling him not to cuss around the neighborhood.  I wasn't sure what was going on but I knew this kids was in my sons face again.  So I yelled across the street to the kid stop acting like his mother that I was his mother and he didn't need another.  And the kid preceeded to get into it with me.  I walked over to him and told him enough is enough and to leave my son alone.  I forbid my son from playing with him which now means all the other kids again because this kid is their leader. 

I have now created a terrible situation.  My kids have no one to play with(but at the same time I think these kids are miserable and I don't want them to play with them).  I feel trapped in this house with my kids.  They need to get out and play but not with these kids.  Luckily my kids are invovled in sports so they do get physical activity.  I feel like I just want to move off of this block.  The kids have never been nice to my son.  I like the neighborhood and the schools but I hate this block and the people on it(no matter how hard I try)  Is putting my house up for sale and finding another one in the neighborhood too drastic a measure?  I feel no warmth toward my neighbors.  Believe me I have reached out.  They are very self contained people. 

Sorry if this is the wrong place for this discussion.  Anyone else out there having problems with their neighbor?  Or have any suggestion on how to handle unneighborly neighbors?  I would greatly appreciate the advise. Thank you


A mom

Hello amom,

I think you were correct to confess your error. What you should have done and still can do is invite your neighbor for a cup of coffee and express your concerns about the interactions you have been seeing between your kid and theirs. Many times small acts of kindness can really soften a difficult situation.

  1. make a list of your frustrations
  2. make a list of possible solutions
  3. try to see things from your neighbors perspective

Your neighbor may not be aware of their child's conduct. So you do not want to be defensive if the conversation isn't going the way you think that it should. Be patient and listen to your neighbor.

After you have rehearsed what you are going to say,

     4.   contact your neighbor and tell them that you would like to talk to them about something that has been troubling you. When you do this bring some cookies or a treat of your choice for their family to enjoy.

      5.   Next, ask for a time when the two of you (if your neighbor is married, invite both spouses). Let them know how the amount of time you expect.

You can suggest that the meeting be at your house, their house, or at a neutral site; e.g. coffee house.

      6.    When you show up for the meeting, bring a treat, if at a coffee house, offer to pay.

At the meeting both parties should be able to discuss the problem calmly. As adults desiring an outcome that benefits all (children included) should be the result.

No, I don't think that you should sell your home. Running from a problem doesn't solve it. Besides, you nor your family do not appear to be in any danger. You like the neighborhood and schools - just take some time to get to know the people. It just hurts when you have to be the initiator.






Marion,  Thank  you so much for your quick and thoughtful response.  It is greatly appreciated.  I will try to put your suggestions into action.  You are right, being the initator can be very hard.  I will try my best to set things right.

Thank you again