Etiquette re: avoiding someone

When my son was in grade school, he made friends with a difficult child. The friend mostly came to our place for play dates, and I got the distinct impression that his mother and sister were looking for somewhere to dump him so they could have “girl time.” These visit usually ended in tears on my son’s part. The friend tormented him or enticed him into breaking rules that got them both in trouble.

When they went to middle school, my son and the friend didn’t maintain contact.

Fast forward to now. My son is 14 and a freshman in high school. Lo and behold, over the Christmas break, the friend (actually, the friend’s mother and sister) have made contact in an effort to reconnect the friend with my son. When we came back from a few days out of town, there were three voice-mail messages. The first was from the friend’s sister, who literally said, “You may not remember us, but…” She went on to say her brother wanted to get back in contact with my son. There was a message from the friend himself, and another message from the sister.

Yesterday, we got home from church to find another message from the sister. Late in the afternoon, the phone rang and my husband took a call from the mother, who wanted to arrange a get-together that day. My husband said it was really too late, but a future date might be possible, depending upon our son’s schedule.

Bottom line: Our son has stated that he does not want to rekindle a “friendship” with this kid. (The kid is at the same high school as our son, but our son says he never sees him.)

The sister has called twice tonight. We didn’t answer either time.

I think the family’s persistence in the face of minimal response from us indicates their cluelessness. I’m afraid that if we answer the phone and give non-specific excuses about other plans, the family will just keep calling in hopes of finding a time where there are no “other plans.”

Letting the calls go to voice-mail and not returning the calls feels really rude, but I think it might be the only way they’ll get the message. I don’t think any good can come from laying it all out for them.

How would you handle this?

It seems strange for the family to be getting so involved in the son’s social life when he is fourteen years old. Maybe you should call the mother and tell her you want to have an honest talk (as grown ups without involving the kids) because this is kind of unusual. Tell her you don’t like to direct you son’s social life, so you can not commit to arranging a play date. Make sure you put some responsibility on her to explain what she is up to. I mean, they go to the same school; if they wanted to hang out, they would.

Seriously, it sounds like the kid is on drugs and they want to get him some nice friends. It is not ok the way they are pressuring you.

You might want to talk to your son. How does he fill. Why does he not want to restart any friendship. What does your son think. After you have some answers it will help you to know what to do next.

Is your son now strong enough to keep the other boy from getting him into trouble? (This is a big question!) If he is see if your son would like to invite the other boy to church, youth group.

You can then call the other boy’s family and explain that you do not arrange play dates for your 14 year old boy.

Also let your son know your conserns and that you will back what ever he chooses.

There’s your answer right there. Next time they call, say “I’m sorry, but (son) is not interested”. Repeat gently as needed.

The only reasonable solution that comes to mind.

Perhaps you could call to say something like, you know that they have called numerous times over the past few days. Your son has been busy with his friends, and if he wants to reconnect with their son at some point, your son will pick up the phone and call their son. But if they keep calling, that’s just going to make things really awkward, you know?

If they persist, you could note that it has been 5 years (or whatever) since the sons last spent time with each other, and your son doesn’t seem to have the same interests anymore. (Interests as in, he has no interest in your screwed-up son.)

Answer the phone, and say “I’m sorry, but my son doesn’t hang out with 14 year olds that need adults to arrange “play dates” for them. Goodbye.” Then block the number.

Your other option is probably to have your son join the other kid in a killing spree or something, and that would be inconvenient.

What kind of mother arranges “play dates” for a 14 year old?

Just say, “I stay out of my son’s social life.”

To me, this raises a lot of red flags. I don’t even like it when casual acquaintances pursue me beyond the realm of calling, leaving a voicemail, and then waiting until i return their call. I don’t like to feel pressured in social situations, and that’s exactly what’s happening here.

What do you think the motivation is behind this? It’s been X years and suddenly their (stagnant) friendship is so important that multiple members of the family need to attempt to see it through? I’d back away…carefully. It sounds like something deeper might be happening here.

Tell them that your son is a gangbanger now. If their son wants to hang out with him he will have to kill someone.

I’m not sure the ‘I don’t get involved with my son’s social life’ suggestions will work - if anything, it may direct the calls and persisting towards the son, who at 14 is probably not equipped to deal with this.

I’d give them a call back and say ‘Sorry, but we’re not interested in having your child over, I hope he can find someone else to spend time with.’

I’d say that if the other kid goes to the same school but he SAYS never sees him there, there is more to the story here than meets the eye. Because if the other kid really did want to rekindle the friendship, he’d be making the effort to get together at school.

That’s where I’d be looking. Does your kid avoid this other kid like the plague? Do they simply travel in other circles? Does the other kid hang out with the wrong crowd? What is the story there that might explain why his parents are calling you to try to hook them up again.

I also get the impression something is very off with this (the family, the boy, who knows?). My oldest is 8 and already he and his friends are at the stage where they will call each other and I get the “mom can we go to X’s house?” at the end of the agreement between the boys. Sometimes a mom will occasionally call me or email me and say something like “we have to get the boys together” but those occasions are almost always because we are 180 miles from one another and have to plan the logistics in advance.

If a friend of my son’s mom called me and suggested we get them together (keep in mind, for the 8 year old) I would think her child was possibly being left out of a lot and needed some including and she was gently encouraging. If I started getting a barrage of calls from various family members I would probably think they were off their rocker.

Now, onto your situation. Disregarding the unusual manner in which they are attempting to contact/borderline harass you, your refusal to answer the phone when they call isn’t going to work. They obviously can’t take a hint. You need to answer the phone and deal with them. Just say “Thanks for calling. I’ve passed the message to my boy and he and your kid can set something up at school if that’s what they decide to do.” Leave it up to the kids. Then talk to your boy and ask what’s up with the other kid - maybe he’s an outcast and this is a chance for your kid to be the bigger man. Maybe he’s a drug addled hoodlum and it’s a chance for your kid to learn how to deflect unwanted attention and invitations. Or maybe he’s a kid that is thoroughly humiliated by his guardians’ behavior and will be happy to leave arrangements between himself and your boy and the matter can drop.

I really don’t see why it has to be any more complicated than this.

I have a 15 year old son. The last time another parent arranged a “play date” was when he was 5 or 6.

I wouldn’t leave this up to your son. This is clearly beginning with the Mother, and adults should deal with adults. The other boy is probably cringing with humiliation and rejection - my heart bleeds for him. (But that’s not your responsibility.)

Talk to the Mom, and ask her point blank what is going on. Then:

If the Mom’s answer warrants, it may be worthwhile to make a call to the school guidance office (anonymous I’d say) and let them know that the boy may be suffering neglect . . . I suspect the mom is looking for someone to watch him while she parties or goes out of town.

Does anybody else think it’s weird that the sister is getting involved in this?


I’m also wondering how old she is.

I think it’s all weird. My method of handling it probably wouldn’t work well; someone pestering me like that by phone is likely to get the telemarketer treatment (I don’t think there would be any “gently” involved).

My vote is also for, “I don’t arrange my son’s social life. Good-bye.” If there are any further calls, I guess then you can get into, “Stop calling here.” and “The police will be notified if you continue to harass us.”

Maybe the sister is attracted to the OP’s kid but is too shy to do anything about it directly, so she is trying to approach it in a roundabout fashion. At least this theory holds out the hope that the difficult, former friend’s mother isn’t arranging play dates for him at fourteen years of age.