Should All Children Always Be Expected to Play Together?
Disclaimer: When you buy from links on our site, we may receive a commission at no additional cost to you. Learn more
In the world today, teachers, parents, and even older siblings are teaching children to be kind. Everyone in the world is different and that is what makes it such a great place to live.
What if your child just doesn’t want to play or hang out with a child who is different? Recently a dad told his son he doesn’t need to be friends with special needs child but should be nice to him. But did he do the right thing?
The original poster (OP) started off by saying he has two sons, ages 12 and 6, and that every Saturday he and his 6-year-old go on what his son calls “dude walks” where they look for spiders, dig in the mud, and stop at the neighborhood park to play. OP says the park is a standing meetup for a bunch of parents in the area to bring their kids to play and hang out with each other.
A few weeks ago, a new family moved into the neighborhood and upon meeting them, OP said the mother mentioned that she had two boys, ages 13 and 7. OP then told her about the Saturday morning park group in case she wanted to meet some neighbors. The following Saturday, the mother showed up with her 7-year-old (7YO), OP said the mom was friendly, and she sat with all the parents while the kids played.
OP went on to say that it was clear her 7-year-old has special needs and is a very enthusiastic player, making loud noises, banging on things, and getting in the other kids’ faces, but his mother was great about correcting him and explained that he wasn’t trying to be aggressive, just excited.
OP said the other kids are wary of him, but every time the 7-year-old came to play they included him in every game and activity they did. One Saturday morning, he (7 Y.O.) was having an especially tough day, and when OP said he called his 6-year-old over for a snack, he told OP he did not want to play with the 7-year-old and asked if they could go home, so they left.
The following day the 7-year-old’s mom came to their door and told OP that he should have talked to his son about differently-abled people instead of just abandoning her son. OP and his wife agreed to talk to their son.
The following Saturday, OP’s son said “hi” to the 7-year-old and that they played together a bit, but when the 7-year-old got loud again, OP’s son retreated to the highest platform, where 7YO was too scared to go. When 7YO asked OP’s son to be his partner for a game, he said, “no, thank you.”
OP felt that was fine, but his wife felt bad, so she invited them over. OP said that while at their home, 7YO had one meltdown but other than that, everything was fine. However, after 7YO and mom left, OP’s son asked if 7 YO could please not come over again.
A week after the play date at OP’s home, while at the park, 7 YO destroyed OP’s son’s favorite toy by snapping the arms and legs off the figure. OP’s son yelled, “YOU ARE A VERY MEAN LITTLE BOY!” at 7YO. OP did not make his son apologize. They just left. Now because of OP’s son’s interactions with 7YO, they go to the park on Saturday afternoon when 7YO is not there, and several other parents have begun following suit. OP said that no one has outright said it’s to avoid 7YO, but he suspects that’s why.
7YO’s mother got wind of the schedule change and wrote OP and family a long letter explaining that she felt OP had not done enough to discourage OP’s son from ostracizing 7YO and that OP’s “pull” in the neighborhood was influencing others to avoid her son now too.
OP feels that his son has tried his best with 7YO and has verbalized his need for boundaries from 7YO to OP and his wife several times and feels that as long as both of his kids treat them with respect, he’s satisfied.
OP finishes by saying that he can’t control what the other parents choose to do, and his family will continue to be friendly and be good neighbors but will not force their sons to play with 13 and 7YO.
Reddit Weighs In
Redditors gave their thoughts on whether the OP did the right thing or not when it came to allowing his son to stop playing with the other child.
One Redditor said, “NTA. Your job is to make sure your kid treats Aiden with respect, not to force him to be Aiden’s friend. You did just fine.”
A second Redditor said, “You’re only responsible for your own actions, not everyone else’s. NTA,
I understand the mother’s frustration but she can’t demand everyone make their children play with hers if they aren’t comfortable doing so.”
A third Redditor said, “No, the other mother is for sure an asshole. 100% an asshole. I say this as the mother of an autistic child, it is NEVER okay to use your child’s disability as an excuse for them overriding everyone else’s boundaries and being destructive and mean. Is being a special needs parent tough?
Damn right it is. But it does NOT give you the right to put your child on a pedestal and make everyone else suffer just because you refuse to teach your child boundaries. This mother is failing their child immensely by acting as if he can do no wrong and others should just accept him because he’s different. My son gets loud at times, and there are times other kids want to avoid him. I 100% respect the other kids and gently explain to my son why others need space in a way he can understand.”
Another user wrote, “I’m a SPED (Special Education- learning disabilities) teacher and this parent is not doing their kid any favors. Wanting to be included during group activities (like whole class parties) is one thing, but you can’t expect other kids to be ok with broken toys and ignored boundaries. Kids grow up, People are understanding of these behaviors in kids, but the bigger they get, the less ok with it they will be. He needs to be learning social skills, not expecting everyone else to change.”
Another Redditor wrote, “NTAH It’s a very difficult situation but you’re doing the right thing in prioritising your child and their enjoyment of that time you share together. You gave their friendship multiple chances to develop but you can’t expect a 6 year old to have that much tolerance, and your 12 year old is old enough to choose who he’s friends with. You sound like a decent father and it seems like you approached this in the right way.”
Finally, a Redditor said, “If her son destroyed OP’s son’s toy, does she REALLY expect a 6 year old to want to play with the child again? Her role as a mother is to teach – She needs to replace the toy, have her son give it to Sam and apologize. Kids are remarkably forgiving BUT they also have VERY keen senses of justice and no kid wants to feel like they are being walked all over.”
Redditors let the OP know what he did was understandable, and his child has a right to decide who they play with. What is your opinion? Would you have made your child continue playing?
This article is inspired by the internet and does not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of Motherhood Life Balance.
10 Things Boomers Passionately Dislike About Modern Society
10 Things Boomers Passionately Dislike About Modern Society – The list could probably go on forever. You might agree with some.
Mind the Gender Gap: 24 Expenses That Men Bear Alone in a World of Unequal Spending
Mind the Gender Gap: 24 Expenses That Men Bear Alone in a World of Unequal Spending – Men are often expected to pay for a lot of things when it comes to relationships.
Silly Things Boomers Say Daily
10 Annoying Things The Boomer Generation Says Daily Millennials and Gen Z often want them just to SHUT UP! So, What is something annoying the boomer generation always says to the younger generation?
10 Surprising Phrases Your Partner Is Using to Gaslight You
The word “gaslighting” is thrown around a lot these days. The purpose of gaslighting is to make someone believe they are crazy when in reality, they are not. – 10 Surprising Phrases Your Partner Is Using to Gaslight You
New Shows Streaming On Netflix in May
Coming Soon: New Netflix Series Premiering in May – Cuddle up, get cozy and get ready to watch these great new shows releasing on Netflix this month.