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Is My Son Too Popular?
Q: My son is very popular; he plays all sports and gets along well with his peers and teachers. On weekends, kids knock on my door all day, asking to play with him. On one hand, I want the kids over here so I can keep track of what's happening (they all love to be at our house). On the other hand, this constant intrusion is frustrating. What can I do?
A: You should be very pleased that your son is faring so well socially, in school, and in his extracurricular activities.
Apparently, your weekend problem is that you do not like to be bothered by all the kids who come by your house looking to play with your son. By the tone of your letter, I assume that they come by your home unannounced. Don't blame your son or make him feel guilty about his peers' weekend visits. You might suggest to him that he could let his regular group of buddies know what his weekend plans are (if he knows them) before the weekend begins, perhaps on Friday night -- phone calls, emails or group Instant Messages would do the trick. You might also ask him to tell his friends to call before they come over to see if he can play with them. But that might produce an equal number of "rings" as "knocks"; you can decide which you prefer. You could also leave a big note on your door indicating where your son is and when he might be returning. If you leave a pencil, the kids can leave notes for your son rather than disturb you.
This situation is only a problem if you treat it as one. I would good-naturedly seek your son's assistance in reducing your need to run wind sprints back and forth to the door on weekends. I'm betting that you can both come up with some creative solutions. I'd also suggest that you try reframing and renaming this "problem" as a positive experience, a natural consequence of your son's social successes. And accept my pat on the back for having a home where kids feel welcomed. Thanks for writing and for being open to seeing things with "different eyes."
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Carleton Kendrick has been in private practice as a family therapist and has worked as a consultant for more than 20 years. He has conducted parenting seminars on topics ranging from how to discipline toddlers to how to stay connected with teenagers. Kendrick has appeared as an expert on national broadcast media such as CBS, Fox Television Network, Cable News Network, CNBC, PBS, and National Public Radio. In addition, he's been quoted in the New York Times, Washington Post, Chicago Tribune, Boston Globe, USA Today, Reader's Digest, BusinessWeek, Good Housekeeping, Woman's Day, and many other publications.