I feel a bit differently about this now than I did many years ago. See, about 10 years or so ago, I was in a similiar situation with both Hallgirls and their friends. Our place was the house where Hallgirl2’s boyfriend would hang out. He spent dinners, holidays, afternoons, evenings, etc. at our house. Carlos was a fixture on my front porch (when I wasn’t home–no guests in the house when I’m not home) and in my living room/kitchen (when I was home). Each evening, about 9:00, I’d call out that it was time to close down for the evening, and Carlos would head home. Sometimes if the weather were truly bad, I’d drive him the half a mile or so to his house. Too many times, I’d pull up to the house and there would be Carlos, perched on my porch swing. Internally, I’d groan, but I tried never to let on that I had the thought running through my mind, “Here he is again!”
Hallgirl1 was similiar with her friends. Our place was large and there was frequently one or two familiar, non-family face at the dinner table. I learned to cook for “extras”.
Ten years later, I look back at those kids who were fixtures at our house, and in many cases, I’ve gotten feedback from a lot of them. Our house was the “safe haven” for many. It was a place where they knew they could get something healthy and good to eat, some place where no one would yell at them (or worse), where someone asked how their day was and listened to their responses, where their opinions and thoughts counted. Some, like Carlos, actually had responsibilities while he was there (you eat, you help clean up), and I would always pester him about his homework. (Much homework was done at the kitchen table.)
I don’t ever remember closing the door to anyone, and although there were nights when we dragged out an extra mattress or sleeping bag, I felt guilty sometimes sending some home. I’m not saying that their home lives were filled with horror, but sometimes it helps to have another adult to act as a mentor or sounding board for a kid. (There were often times when I called a kid on his or her own behavior, but I could do that because I wasn’t a parent to them. Know what I mean?)
The long end of this, autz, is that if a kid is hanging out at your house, that’s a good thing. Your kids doing homework? Have him pull up a chair to do his. Your kids doing chores? Give the kid a broom. Would it be nice if he wasn’t there every freaking day? Probably, but until he feels comfortable enough to invite someone to his house, he’s at yours. At least you know where your kids are and what they’re doing and who they’re with.