- advertisement -

Worried about neighbor boy and bags of "gifts"

Discussion in 'Parents Off Topic' started by momandwifeoftype1s, Jun 4, 2012.

  1. momandwifeoftype1s

    momandwifeoftype1s Approved members

    Joined:
    Mar 4, 2008
    Messages:
    3,185
    There are two boys in our neighborhood who have been hanging out at our home after school for many months. Their parents work late hours, and they spend a lot of time with our family. They are so close that we've jokingly referred to them as being our 3rd and 4th kids. Both boys are soft spoken, very polite, and well mannered.

    The older child is in middle school, and he has not been coming over after school every day like he used to. Instead, he's been going over to the home of an older teen in our neighborhood who has a very bad reputation of stealing, lying and having weapons (I caught that incident and reported it to the authorities).

    Today, the older sibling came to our home to get his brother and talk to him. I went to the door, and saw that he was carrying several plastic bags. I asked him to come inside and told him that we had missed him. We had several other neighborhood boys over to play too, so I was happy to include him.

    He sat down on the couch and emptied out his bag full of electronics that his new "friend" had purchased for him today (that boy is 14). He had a 3DS, an I-Pod Nano, a stack of 3DS games, and new Yu-Gi-Oh games. He also had a gift card to Best Buy and some other items. This was a big red flag to me that something is amiss. I told him that kids don't have that kind of money, and they especially wouldn't be buying all those items for a new friend. I suspect something is very wrong - drugs, gang activity, stolen items, or something else. I told him that he needs to be very careful because it sounds like he is being set up or used and that I care about him. He got teary eyed and went home after he promised not to accept any more gifts. I felt bad that I had been so harsh.

    I don't know the parents of the boys who hang out at our home. I let them come in to play because their parents are never home, and the boys have always been respectful and appreciative. I do have the mom's phone number. Do you think I should call the mother to discuss my concerns? Leave it alone? Not allow the kids to come over any more? Do you think my mommy instinct is off? I don't have experience with teenagers. My kids are 8 and 10.

    Thanks for advice. I really appreciate it.
     
  2. Joretta

    Joretta Approved members

    Joined:
    Nov 7, 2009
    Messages:
    528
    Definitely off. But calling the mom is a hard call.the mom could see you as the good two shoes who meddling. I would personally call and ask if they mind you having the boy come over and help you with a few chores. Then get him involved at your house either getting the other kids entertained or doing something with supervision. Keep him away from the other boy and show this young man his worth in life. In my opinion, this child is feeling left out in some way and maybe out growing the younger kids but may be looking in the wrong places. Then try to get to know the mom and maybe then some how ask her what she knows of the bad influence child. I know this is a lot to bear yourself but teens look for ways to be more mature and need the feeling of acceptance and unfortunately for some reason he fell on your doorstep. He seems to like you or he would not have reacted the way he did. I hope you can help him and his parents. But I would never call a mom I did not know until I did know her.
     
  3. Lisa P.

    Lisa P. Approved members

    Joined:
    May 19, 2008
    Messages:
    5,380
    I'm a huge advocate of telling parents.
    However. . . parents who do not want to know what their kids are doing can react in bad ways when information is brought to them. Sometimes they feel they must loudly "step up to the plate" and overreact. Sometimes they get defensive. Sometimes they will cut off your contact with the kids so they aren't embarrassed any more.
    So if these parents really have never bothered to come over and meet you when their kids spend their afternoons at your house all the time, I'd forgive you :rolleyes::p for not calling them up. If they came over and asked, of course they need to know. . .
    If you do talk to the parents, I would recommend going to the young man first and asking if you can go together with him to talk to his mom and dad. It seems to me he brought this to you because he wanted you to talk with him about it. When kids are so easily "caught" they usually want to be caught, I think. My opinion comes from teaching middle school years ago, they often were very transparent about infractions because they really wanted guidance and even discipline but didn't want to come out and ask. I remember one teen boy who cut class to smoke -- in an alley that you could directly see into from my classroom window!!
    Best to you in figuring it out, it's awfully hard to know the right thing to do sometimes. I'd never circumvent or put my judgment above a kid's parents, and obviously you feel the same way, but that doesn't always mean a cold call is a good idea. . .
    :cwds::cwds:
     
  4. swellman

    swellman Approved members

    Joined:
    Jul 30, 2008
    Messages:
    3,544
    Wha?

    That one line would be the end of my part in that story.

    Unless you are a social worker I say lock your doors and protect your children.
     
  5. selketine

    selketine Approved members

    Joined:
    Jan 4, 2006
    Messages:
    6,057
    Is there someone you can discuss it with? Our neighborhood has a "community police officer" program - someone like that might be able to give you some insight into what could be going on and how you can help. Ultimately the parents have to be told - but I'd try calling and talking to someone like that community police officer or someone similar.

    Whatever it is sounds like a very bad situation - no one gives those sorts of gifts - not $$$'s worth of gifts like that.
     
  6. momandwifeoftype1s

    momandwifeoftype1s Approved members

    Joined:
    Mar 4, 2008
    Messages:
    3,185
    We do have a community officer, which may be the direction I decide to take. I am concerned that this boy is getting sucked into something dark, and it's in the very beginning stages. He's so naive and has low self-esteem that I feel like he's an easy target. I'd like to continue to offer my home as a safe location for him and his brother as an alternative. I know he won't be bringing "gifts" like that here after the long talk I had with him. I want him to know that I am still here for him, but not if he continues to hang out with the older teen. I am constantly supervising the kids here, and they cannot have any door closed. They know the rules here, and they respect those rules. It makes me sad that such a sweet boy is getting involved in something that feels so wrong to me.
     
  7. momandwifeoftype1s

    momandwifeoftype1s Approved members

    Joined:
    Mar 4, 2008
    Messages:
    3,185
    I sent an e-mail to the courtesy officer this morning asking for advice on how to handle this situation. I hope that was the right thing to do. :(

    ETA: The courtesy officer is going to talk to the older boy's family about the gifting. She responded to my email right away and really appreciated my proactive parenting.
     
    Last edited: Jun 5, 2012
  8. selketine

    selketine Approved members

    Joined:
    Jan 4, 2006
    Messages:
    6,057
    I think this is the best course of action. So the officer is going to talk to the family if the older kid who gave the gifts right? That should start some ball rolling somewhere you'd think - that would offer the best possible outcome. Hopefully the parents of one of those kids will step up.

    There are just some things it is hard to handle (maybe impossible) for another kid - when it comes down to it the parents are responsible. I hope the other boy stays away from this teen. My older one is 14 and he has items of his own - but I can't see him "gifting" anyone something like that. I wouldn't even gift him that much stuff at once!

    I hate being in those situations - it is so hard to know which is the best path to take.:(
     
  9. Lisa P.

    Lisa P. Approved members

    Joined:
    May 19, 2008
    Messages:
    5,380
    Just be aware that once you involve "professionals" protocols fall into place and people begin to follow system rules instead of common sense.

    I have to say the move to "talk to" the older teen about the gifts sounds like the most foolish thing in the world. Now, essentially, the young man who comes to your house will be known as the guy that ratted out the thiefs. It may help -- they may leave him alone if they think he will "tell". But it may get him jumped. I get very frustrated with adults who use "counseling" in situations where strength is needed, a gang member or shoplifter is not going to need a heart to heart, if the officer doesn't have the power to make him conform, she needs to be very wary about her interactions. Once it becomes clear that she knows he is stealing but can't do a thing about it, the situation will escalate.

    I think the best you can do is continue to be a source of strength for this young man to show him you care about him and the choices he makes. Certainly, if you can get a corrupting older teen thrown in jail (or be able to credibly threaten it) through an authoritative system, it might be a stick to consider. But until then, I'd be very wary about social workers and community officers. Having worked in a school system with an active community anti-gang program with a lot of social work and talking and etc., where one young man stabbed another to death, I can tell you they often don't have the miracle powers of diplomacy that outsiders like to think they have. Most will tell you that's the case.

    Systems fail. Love doesn't. You care about this kid, in the end you'll help, even if you can't save him from all the trouble he might be facing. I think it's right for you to do what you can, but I'd advise (and feel free to ignore me) that you keep in mind that you can only do what you can do, you can't fix everything, just having a safe haven for a few hours a day may give these kids the strength they need to face the less safe world they walk into when they leave your house. Good examples and clear compassion go a long way.
     
    Last edited: Jun 5, 2012
  10. hawkeyegirl

    hawkeyegirl Approved members

    Joined:
    Nov 15, 2007
    Messages:
    13,157
    I think you did exactly the right thing. Let us know how it turns out.
     
  11. Christopher

    Christopher Approved members

    Joined:
    Nov 20, 2007
    Messages:
    6,771
    For me I think you jumped the gun a bit. I would have first let the parents know of your concerns. It would then be up to them to deal with it, as it should be, since they are the parents of the boy you interacted with. You have no idea what this situation is and it is really not your place to get involved in it, apart from notifying the parents.

    Just my 2 cents.
     
  12. caspi

    caspi Approved members

    Joined:
    Oct 11, 2006
    Messages:
    5,134
    Oh Amy, this boy is lucky to have you to speak to! It sounds like the parents are non-existent in their lives. I mean, who lets their children go over to a strangers house to hang out all the time without meeting the adults?

    My biggest concern going forward would be the fact that these boys don't have any parental supervision and what else are they doing? Having them around your children could in fact be harmful if they are getting involved in dangerous activities. It's a tough spot to be in - you don't want to turn them away but you also have to think about the safety of your children. I honestly don't know what I would do in your situation.....
     
  13. Christopher

    Christopher Approved members

    Joined:
    Nov 20, 2007
    Messages:
    6,771
    I think what happens in threads like this is people jump to all sorts of conclusions that may or may not be true. Even the OP said she doesn't know the boy's parents at all, but then she says that the parents are "never" home. If she doesn't know them how would she know that?

    In situations like this, I try and think if I were the parent in question, how would I want it to be handled, if it was my child. I personally would rather have someone come to me first with their concerns, as opposed to bringing in outside agencies before they understood the entire picture. But that is just me.

    But I agree with you, it is tough to know how to handle situations like this, and where your boundries are as a concerned parent.
     
    Last edited: Jun 5, 2012
  14. caspi

    caspi Approved members

    Joined:
    Oct 11, 2006
    Messages:
    5,134
    Non-existent probably wasn't the right word for me to use. My concern is these parents don't seem to mind their children hanging out in a house with adults they have never met. Thank God the OP and her husband are decent people. There just appears to be a huge lack of supervision which can lead to trouble.
     
  15. Annapolis Mom

    Annapolis Mom Approved members

    Joined:
    Dec 15, 2008
    Messages:
    199
    Amy, I'm really impressed with the way you're handling this situation. I don't think there's any one "right" way to do it. But you're handling it the way that is right for you--with love, concern for the boys, an open heart, and an understanding that you might need outside help.

    I hope I would have the heart to be so caring to a child who is not mine if I were in your situation.
     
  16. momandwifeoftype1s

    momandwifeoftype1s Approved members

    Joined:
    Mar 4, 2008
    Messages:
    3,185
    Thank you for all your responses. I really appreciate it! I was at Field Day today with Connor. I talked in confidence about the situation with Connor's teacher today too, and I feel pretty good about the way I've handled things so far. I care too much about this boy to not do something to try to help him before it's too late. I hope I made the right decision to get involved.
     
  17. caspi

    caspi Approved members

    Joined:
    Oct 11, 2006
    Messages:
    5,134
    You know what to look for and if anything looks out of sorts, you'll be on top of it, I am sure! I commend you for being there for this boy. :cwds:
     

Share This Page

- advertisement -

  1. This site uses cookies to help personalise content, tailor your experience and to keep you logged in if you register.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our use of cookies.
    Dismiss Notice