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We recently moved into a new neighborhood, as did our neighbor, Jane. I have two young girls (4 and 5), and Jane has a boy and girl (7 I think?). My kids love to play with them, and her kids seem to enjoy it just as much (they knock on our door asking if our girls can come out to play and whatnot).

The issue is that Jane is a single mother, and my wife occasionally works on weekends; Jane sometimes will ask (or my girls will ask and Jane will be accommodating) if the kids can go into her house and play in the toy room together. I don't know her well enough to leave my kids alone in her house for an extended time, and I don't want to accompany them and put myself in a situation with no accountability.

This is uncomfortable for me. I've discussed it with my wife; she's just as uncomfortable with it as I am. I try not to be careless, and being in the home of a single-mother alone while my wife isn't around is basically red flags all around (not that I've noticed any sort of motives from Jane, just that I don't want to put myself in that situation). There's no cultural reason for this; it's a boundary I have for myself. I feel fine socializing with other women, it's socializing in private that I'm not fine with.

My question is how can I politely explain to Jane why I don't think it's a good idea for my girls to play in her house when my wife isn't home to accompany them? I don't want to sound accusatory, but at the same time, I want to make it clear that when my wife isn't home, hanging out in her house isn't an option.

The best I've come up with so far is redirecting the invitation --

Jane's Son: Can the girls come inside to play in the toy room?

Me (so Jane hears): Not right now, but maybe when their mommy gets home they can.

or

Jane: Is it ok if the girls come in and play?

Me: Maybe later, once their mom is home

My hope is that this will make it clear that I don't feel comfortable being in another woman's house without my wife home. This is both out of respect for my wife, as well as not wanting to be in a compromising situation even once.

A couple of things that aren't an option:

  • Letting my kids play in her house while I wait outside (doing yard work or something). While this is ok for a short time, it ends up requiring me to walk into Jane's house to extract my kids or they'd never leave.

  • Staying in the toy room with them while they're playing. This defeats the point of me not wanting to be in Jane's house alone.

This wouldn't be a big deal if we didn't get along or I noticed anything off, but she's nice and our kids get along great. While I want to be clear, I don't want to be offensive by sounding accusatory.

Controversial Post — You may use comments ONLY to suggest improvements. You may use answers ONLY to provide a solution to the specific question asked above. Moderators will remove debates, arguments or opinions without notice.

  • 28
    Whether you agree with the OPs decisions or not is irrelevant to this question. Answers to this question should focus on the question at hand (how to convey the message) and should not debate whether the OP's decision to not visit his neighbor's home without his wife is correct or not. That is not what this question is about. Please see the related meta post here. – Catija Jan 20 '18 at 5:24
  • I'm just asking so I understand the situation fully. So, Jane is home, so it's not that the kids are unattended or not supervised by an adult, but this has to do with the fact that Jane is a single mother? This is not a matter of "we only want kids to be supervised at someone else's house when there are two parents there," but it is about Jane's status, correct? Or is it you want one of the parents to be there, regardless, and because of Jane's status as not being in a committed relationship, you're worried about how it would look if you, a married man, accompanied the kids? – PoloHoleSet Jan 22 '18 at 19:43
  • @PoloHoleSet it's not that the kids are unattended or not supervised by an adult, but this has to do with the fact that Jane is a single mother? From my reading of the question, I think it's about Jane being someone relatively unknown to OP who does not yet count as adequate supervision for OP's kids. However, OP doesn't want OP and Jane to be the only adults in a house. – WBT Jan 23 '18 at 23:24

14 Answers 14

146

My biggest concern with you addressing Jane is that she could take offense to the implication of her wanting to seduce you (presently or at a future time), so to avoid that I'd suggest saying something more like:

"My wife and I have an agreement to not spend time with the opposite sex alone, so out of respect to her I'd like to wait for my kids to come over until she's home. Our kids love each other, so hopefully you understand and they can play later."

The reason I suggest this approach is because you don't mention that you (or your wife) have thought of your neighbor as a possible seducer. At no point is Jane ever even part of the reason why you are saying no, because you're implying that you would abide by the same actions with any other woman.

Instead, the focus is on agreements you've made in your own relationship (which Jane is not a part of, and should take no offense to). Worst case Jane will think your relationship is a little quirky to have such boundaries, but she's more likely to shrug this off than she is feeling like you've implied the two of you could ever become romantic partners.

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    This makes sense, thank you. The whole reason I asked on here was because I know there aren't many ways to explain this without coming across as accusatory. I couldn't even ask the question without coming across as accusatory to most :) – MrDuk Jan 18 '18 at 17:31
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    @MrDuk It's a fine question. Some people just take a while to get the bigger picture. – NVZ Jan 18 '18 at 19:03
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    How does bringing up an agreement about "not spending time with the opposite sex alone" not imply a motif of seduction? – Mark Jan 20 '18 at 18:00
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    @Marcel it absolutely does imply seduction/illicit romance as the topic, but the focus is on MrDuk and his wife and their own rules, and it is not stated in a way that singles out Jane as a possible seducer. The rule could be there for any multitude of reasons, but the point is that they're not saying Jane is the problem. – Tim S. Jan 20 '18 at 21:17
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    I'd cast it as "I'd like to avoid the appearance of impropriety." It's not she's dangerous, it's that from the outside it looks bad. A lot of issues are rendered moot by doing so, and it's common in business, politics and the military: When I was overseas in the Marines, we had a standing order not to go to other Marines houses without them present, because the appearance of impropriety is enough to cause huge issues, even if nothing improper actually happened. – TemporalWolf Jan 22 '18 at 21:42
176

Spend some time (with your wife) getting to know Jane. Invite her and her kids over for dinner, or a Saturday lunch grill-out, or have your two families meet for bowling or something. It seems strange to me that you'd let your kids play together, but only if you're around. When we moved to a new neighborhood, we got to know the family across the street that had similarly-aged boys, and then it was fine if our boys (6 and 4) were over there, or their boys (5 and 3) were over here. Not once have either of us sat in the other's house while the kids played; that just seems weird to me. If you don't yet trust your neighbor, make a plan to get to know them so you know whether or not you can trust them.

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    +1 for getting to know them better. As a parent and some one with friends who are parents I don't find it strange to be careful about who my kids play with. I don't want to teach my kids to distrust every one but I also don't want them to be taken advantage of. So when they play with friends I check up on them frequently. This way I can make sure they are safe with out making them paranoid. It also lets me make sure they are learning to share, not hit, etc. . . – Dan Anderson Jan 18 '18 at 19:50
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    OP said (possibly in comments) that the issue isn't that he has to be present the entire time, but that even if he wasn't present while they played he'd have to come inside to retrieve them (and this was also an issue). However, everyone getting to know each other could still help ease both OP and OP's wifes tensions about this. The issue isn't about the kids being alone in the house. The issue is about the OP (a married man) entering the single womans house alone (without wife). – Jess K. Jan 18 '18 at 20:19
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    Well, the OP specifically says that walking in to get the kids is not an option, for whatever reason. – Jess K. Jan 19 '18 at 0:54
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    @redOctober13 "with a woman" =/= "with a woman and 4 kids" – el.pescado Jan 19 '18 at 17:08
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    Assuming this leads to trusting the neighbor well enough to supervise the kids, it seems easy enough to also avoid having to go in to pick them up: just get her number and text her, or knock on the door and ask her to go get them. – Cascabel Jan 21 '18 at 5:57
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If I understand correctly, your issue is you being in Jane's house (with or without your children, for any length of time at all) if your wife is not in your house or otherwise nearby. I am not sure whether you think Jane will try to seduce you, or that you might be in the future vulnerable to a false claim from Jane that you assaulted her, or that neighbours might gossip "he goes in Jane's house when his wife isn't home", or what. But you correctly intuit that Jane would not enjoy hearing this reason.

Simply tell Jane, once

I love it when our kids play together. I want them to get together as often as possible, in either house. One thing though. On weekends, when [wife name] is out, I don't think it's a good idea for you and I to be in and out of each other's houses without her. You might find that overly sensitive of me, and I apologize, but I am not comfortable with it.

Then on that occasion come up with some other solution that works for that day, such as "all the kids playing outside in our yard" or "my kids will come over as soon as my wife gets home" or even "my kids can come over but you need to kick them out at 4pm so I can get them ready for swimming (or dinner or whatever) and as I said I'm sorry, but I'm not ok coming in to get them."

Fair warning, Jane is likely to think you're strange. She's likely to feel a little offended. She's just trying to live her life and raise her kids, and here this neighbor she thought liked her actually has her filed under "possible seducer" or "possible accuser" or whatnot. So really work on telling her that this is your feeling not your logic, and even that you wish you could shake it, because this neighbourly setup is such a nice one, but you can't. Ask her to accept this oddity about you, and on each occasion, work to find a way to get the kids together that doesn't violate the rule you have set yourself not to go in her house.

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    Thanks for your answer - it's ok if she thinks I'm strange; I'm not trying to impress her with my super social skills anyhow; unintentionally offending her though, when she's done nothing wrong is exactly what I want to avoid. – MrDuk Jan 18 '18 at 17:28
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    He thinks one of them will do something inappropriate if they are alone together. So he either thinks she will do something wrong, or he believes he will. There really is no third alternate explanation; its the 21st century, no one going to believe they are having an affair over something so slight. – swbarnes2 Jan 18 '18 at 23:53
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    @swbarnes2: It is a reasonable and wise precaution. (1) If he ever goes into politics, someone is going to be desperate to find or_invent a scandal for him (2) if there ever arises a reason for animosity, she might make a false accusation. (3) she could be as nice and decent as she seems to be, and show another side when the door is closed. – WGroleau Jan 19 '18 at 1:57
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    No, it's to assure her that she shouldn't be embarrassed or "should have known" or anything like that. When you're going to impose a rule on a neighbor or someone, do you think it's polite to suggest that of course it's perfectly normal, everyone does this, you shouldn't even have to be told why I won't come in your house? In the interests of keeping the relationship pleasant, it's nice to say "I know other people don't have this rule, this is about me, not you" and that's what I'm suggesting. – Kate Gregory Jan 19 '18 at 2:15
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    Well, if you don’t like “unusual,” how about “perhaps we’re a little old-fashioned, but it’s our style.” – WGroleau Jan 19 '18 at 2:38
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You have misgivings, and there's a number of ways you can avoid the situation.

The simplest one is to say that your kids simply can't come out to play right now. No explanation is necessary - they're your kids, and they're quite young.

Another possibility is that you drop your daughters off to play, then simply pick them up later, never entering the house. You can simply ring the bell, ask that they come out, and wait until they do.

Either way, you don't end up making any silly accusations. Problem solved.

locked by Catija Feb 10 '18 at 5:59

This post has been locked while disputes about its content are being resolved. For more info visit meta.

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    I'm just as confused. Unless the OP is physically attracted to her and wants to avoid being around her out of respect for his wife. That's understandable. – Tycho's Nose Jan 18 '18 at 16:56
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    That's the gist of it @Tycho'sNose -- it's not that I'm attracted to her, but she's near enough in age to make my wife uncomfortable with the idea of me being alone in her house. That and I'd rather not be in a compromising situation even once, if it can be avoided (rather than picking up my kids and never getting in that situation again). – MrDuk Jan 18 '18 at 17:02
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    Apologies, I only mentioned she's a single mother to make it clear that there are no other men in the home - not meant to be derogatory or suggestive in any way. – MrDuk Jan 18 '18 at 17:10
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    Hey Andrei... I think your answer's questions have been addressed either in updates to the question or the comments here... perhaps you could clean up your answer a bit so that it's directly addressing the "how to tell her" part rather than being a request for clarification in conjunction with a stab at an answer? :D – Catija Jan 23 '18 at 0:08
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What you seek to do is to establish proper boundaries. One thing I've seen a lot by reading and talking with people who counsel folks who have had affairs is a common thread: "I never meant for this to happen. I wasn't looking for an affair; it just happened."

I'm not insinuating that this will or can happen. For the sake of my marriage, I maintain those boundaries between myself and others of the opposite sex. It's not a matter of trust; it's a matter of ensuring that my behavior is beyond question. I don't plan on having an affair; by ensuring that I'm not alone with someone of the opposite sex I remove that temptation.

How to respond to this person? "I'm sorry; I do not spend time in private with someone of the opposite sex." Some people will act patronizing toward you; some will call that names; some will insinuate that you lack willpower. Others will ask "doesn't your wife trust you?" I'd answer that with "that's how I earn and keep her trust - by not behaving in a way that would raise questions." If they say something silly, that's their problem, not yours. You and only you set standards for your behavior and you and only you can judge yourself by those standards. If Jane is offended by your choice, that's her problem as well. By separating your behavior from the kids playing together, you should be able to not damage that relationship. If she is halfway sensible, and it sounds like she is, she'll accept your decision as precisely that- yours.

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    +1. Making prudent choices to set conservative boundaries can protect the relationship that matters far more than that with your neighbor. – BlackThorn Jan 18 '18 at 23:38
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    +1 for adults recognise that accidents happen, and it's better to avoid walking too near the edge of the cliff. – Will Crawford Jan 20 '18 at 1:09
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    "Accidents happen." "It just happened" Never. In all cases two free adults actively decided to have an affair. It is possible to go through life occasionally being attracted to a non-spouse but not acting on that attraction. That's the way the rest of us manage. – RedSonja Jan 22 '18 at 9:00
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    @RedSonja Except that "the rest of us" includes a very high proportion of affairs. My wife trusts me, and I trust her, but "I trust that nothing happened" is not at all the same as "nothing happened." In our case, we know that the trust is not misplaced because we avoid situations that could even hint at bad behavior. For other couples, they trust each other but cannot actually know if the trust has been broken, which is unfortunate since it *very, very often is broken*. The picture you paint of "the rest of us" is the lie on the surface of society, and most people know it. – Aaron Jan 22 '18 at 20:02
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Honestly, I don't think there is a way to say something like that to your neighbor without damaging your relationship with her and therefore jeopardizing the kids' relationships.

Consider the messages you're sending:

  1. You and your wife don't trust your neighbor, solely because you're similar ages and she's single and female, despite her having done nothing to earn this distrust.

  2. You don't trust yourself and your wife does not trust you to act like a reasonable, responsible adult, despite you having no sexual interest in your neighbor.

Consider also the fact that your neighbor is simply trying to foster friendships between her kids and her neighbor's kids. That's not only likely to offend her, but it's also very likely to make her feel isolated and ashamed at the very least, and she's done nothing to deserve that.

Additionally, while your kids may not understand the reasons or nuances, they will take notice of your interactions with your neighbor and start emulating that, perpetuating this cycle, if you're not careful.

"Not right now" is an acceptable answer to such a question, without additional explanation, justification, or couching. Additionally, it is possible to be free enough to allow your kids to play outside, but too busy for them to be inside the neighbor's house without you and/or your wife also over there.

  • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. – Catija Jan 20 '18 at 5:20
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    @Shauna OP is specifically asking how to avoid sending that very message since that is not the truth; that is the whole point of the question. Since OP's stance is a very common one, it is not an appropriate IPS answer to demean OP in this way and act like they should change. You wrote: "they will take notice of your interactions with your neighbor and start emulating that, perpetuating this cycle, if you're not careful."... we can only hope that we instill this good quality in them. The only part of this answer that seems to honestly answer the given question is the last paragraph. – Aaron Jan 22 '18 at 20:13
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    @Aaron -- "I don't think there is a way" is an answer to "how do I explain this to not offend the person." The rest of my answer is to explain why the stance itself is problematic from the neighbor's point of view (because not everyone may understand that). – Shauna Jan 23 '18 at 16:28
  • @Shauna But the last paragraph provides a way. And the entire answer comes after multiple other answers that likewise provide a way. For what it's worth, I did not down-vote, and I think that your "Not right now" answer at the end is good. – Aaron Jan 23 '18 at 18:16
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I didn't think I was going to write an answer but after giving this some thought, I'm really concerned that Jane will get offended no matter how you say that you are not feeling comfortable being with her alone in her house without your wife around.

Unless you know Jane well enough and/or are willing to deal with the consequences of her getting offended and potentially not letting her kids play with yours, I wouldn't tell her anything like that, personally.

Your own ideas sound a lot more diplomatic. Sorry this is a shorter answer but this is risky and delicate. I commend you for being so respectful and careful and I'm sorry if you felt you were being interrogated but sometimes truth hurts.

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    Frankly, I feel giving an evasive answer is likely to damage the relationship in the long run, too, because Jane will feel (rightly) that MrDuk is effectively giving her the cold sholder, without telling her why. – sleske Jan 19 '18 at 13:20
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    @sleske Frankly, it is a difficult decision for the OP to make. However, the evasive decision - his own examples - would work in the beginning. This, combined with gradually getting to know Jane - top answer - is the approach of the least potential damage in my opinion. – Tycho's Nose Jan 19 '18 at 13:32
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Accept you don't want to be in a home alone with this woman.

There are two problems here that would rightfully insult the woman:

  • She has any sexual or inappropriate intent. The only way she is not insulted is if she had inappropriate intent and if that is the case she will be disappointed.
  • You don't trust the children in her care without supervision.

A response of "Maybe later, once their mom is home" makes neither of those reasons clear. It took (protracted) clarification via comments to make the actual problems clear. You don't even acknowledge the second is an issue and it is as offensive as the first.

I get you want a response to not offend but a truthful response as to the actual reasons will (and should) offend.

If she said to you my children cannot come in your house unless I am present would that offend you?

I think the best response is to be vague "Maybe later, once their mom is home" and hope she does not read too much into that.

Don't invite her children over when your wife is not home or things could get uncomfortable fast.

  • @Beanluc Yes I and this answer accept that as the premise. – paparazzo Jan 22 '18 at 19:36
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I don't know her well enough to leave my kids alone in her house for an extended time.

That's the crux of it, right there. Everyone has their own natural pace at developing a trusting relationship, and there's nothing gained in trying to force it to go quicker than you're comfortable with.

Phase 1. If that's how you feel, but you still want your kids and hers to be able to play together, then it's time to brainstorm a list of public places you can meet for a play date.

Examples:

  • local youth bureau open play time

  • local science museum

  • school playground, neighborhood playground or park -- vary this up and gradually try a wide variety within a reasonable radius in addition to the ones that are closest to home

  • play group hosted at rotating houses, with RSVPs so you'll be able to confirm the numbers ahead of time

  • YMCA

  • public library story time (plan to arrive early and stay a little extra, to allow for some unstructured interaction)

  • craft store structured activity such as pottery painting/decorating

  • home improvement building workshop designed for children (I've seen these set up for Saturdays as a way to get parents into the store)

  • puppet show or child-friendly play or musical: arrange your seating so that you're on one end of the row of kids and your neighbor is clear at the other end so you'll have that distance you prefer (note, avoid movie theaters which are more intimate)

  • ice skating or roller skating

Be creative. I have had play dates at the Salvation Army! Parents shopped for an hour while kids played hide and seek under and behind the clothes racks, and did this and that with the toys set out for sale.

If your neighbor pushes to carpool, be pleasant but firm, just say that you prefer to drive separately and meet them there. If your kids push you to allow them to ride in your neighbor's car, tell them you enjoy the special family time you have together in the car. (In your own mind -- but without saying this to your kids -- you must have it clear in your mind that this rule is non-negotiable -- if they want to have play dates with Tori and Michelle, your rule is, you drive separately and meet them at the venue.)

Some activities might make you feel squirmy, such as bowling. In such cases, discreetly push those onto your wife's available calendar dates.

In this phase, you do not have play dates at each other's houses, period. Consistency is key -- otherwise people get very confused, especially children.

Phase 2. Only you and your wife can decide if and when to move to Phase 2. If you decide it's time for Phase 2, then allow short play dates at each others' houses, with planned start and end times, planned in advance. No spontaneous I-see-Lizzie-outside-can-I-go-play, which can morph all too easily into playing inside.

In Phase 2, don't hesitate to use the telephone for arranging play dates and signaling that it's time to wrap things up. When picking up, you may politely enter the foyer but stay in the foyer. When your neighbor is picking up, be pleasant but do not invite her in past the foyer. Ask your wife to follow the same guidelines consistently; otherwise, your neighbor will hang up her jacket and go looking for the kids.

Who knows? You might eventually be ready for a Phase 3 relationship which involves a closer friendship among the adults, but which doesn't threaten in any way the special couple relationship you have with your wife. Remember, you needn't move from one phase to another unless you and your wife both want to.

Bottom line: it is natural to want to support your children's development of social relationships. It is possible to do this, without the two sets of parents forcibly entering into a close friendship. If you are a reserved person, that's okay. You can still support your children's peer relationships while respecting your natural reservedness.

4

One thing I haven't seen mentioned: Discuss the issue, and your concerns, with your wife first!

She would probably appreciate your concerns regarding impropriety. It may not necessarily help resolve the problem at hand, but it might help your relationship with your wife for her to know how you view these kinds of situations, and your willingness to discuss them with her.

Its also possible that her response may make you more comfortable with a wider range of options.

If, after talking to your wife, you are still looking for a way to bring this up with Jane, it might be helpful to phrase it as you being "old fashioned". While our current society generally doesn't bat an eye at this sort of situation, it wasn't too long ago that the idea of an unmarried woman being in the unchaperoned company of a man was scandalous.

Generally, I find that honesty is the best approach. Sometimes the reality is that you wind up offending people, but you could just as easily offend her over some made-up excuse. If she's going to get offended by something that is meaningful and honest to you, then its best to get that out of the way immediately.

My wife and I spoke, and while we both love that our daughters get along so well with your children, and we want their friendship to continue and grow, we feel that they're still too young to be playing without one of the two of us supervising. This is probably going to sound really silly, but I'm... really old-fashioned about a few things. I know it's a bit ridiculous, but the idea of my being in your house without my wife present just feels wrong. I really hope you aren't offended.

3

When we moved to a new area. I allowed our kids to play in the front yard with the neighbourhood kids but not in anyone’s home. I’m not sure the weather where you live but could this be an option? Or In this situation you may want to suggest they play at your house? As she may be okay with allowing hers over alone or saying ‘ we’re a bit busy this morning, but maybe they can come round with my wife later?’

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    And if she wants to come in with the children? – paparazzo Jan 18 '18 at 22:53
  • This one works well - speaking from experience. Playing outside solves many of the issues, and it's healthy too. +1 However, the "but your kids can come into my house without you present" sounds like a recipe for accusations and a pedophile reputation - that bit I would avoid. – Aaron Jan 22 '18 at 20:56
2

From my perspective, there is no polite way to say such an impolite thing* without really exposing some brutal truths about you and your wife to her. You will have to lie somewhat if you want to maintain politeness here, or wade into extremely uncomfortable honesty.

Here are some only marginally dishonest suggestions for things to tell her that would be polite:

I know my kids are friendly, but I have severe social anxiety. My wife is my anchor (that's why I married her) and I'd rather only spend time with new people while she's around. I'm so sorry. I hope I didn't insult you.

(If you do this one, you'll have to hold yourself to these standards with all other neighbors, too, including your male neighbors, until you get to know them better. This would be the polite thing to do).

Or:

I'm really busy with [fill in the blank] for the next few months. I don't have a lot of spare time to socialize. All the free time I'll have to socialize in the coming months will be the time when my wife is also around. We really value socialization time together, so I actually make time for it when she's around. I also have extreme anxiety about my children being watched by people I don't know well. So hopefully we can get to know each other better (while my wife is around) and then my kids can come over sometime to play with yours. I really hope you understand. I don't mean to insult, I just have a really busy schedule. My kids really do enjoy hanging out with yours. Too bad their pop is a curmudgeon!

Again, you'll have to be super busy for the next few months, but also again, that's only fair.

Or you could go a self-deprecatingly honest route. It may lose you social credibility with her, but it shouldn't be impolite to her:

My wife doesn't trust me alone with other women. I don't trust me alone with other women. It's nothing against you, I don't know anything about you, really. You could be gay, you could be fed up with men entirely, you could find my company distasteful. I really have no idea. But long story short, I'm afraid I'm a dog and a scaredy cat, and I really can't do casual friendships with members of the opposite sex unless my wife is around to watch me like a hawk. Our kids really do like playing with each other, though, so I hope we're cool! Again, nothing against you. My wife and I just don't have a level of trust in our relationship that would enable me to spend time at your house while our kids play.

Or a playfully honest route:

You know the Vice President? I'm his body double. No really! I know I don't look anything like him, and nor does my wife look like his wife, but we do that same thing they do! No being alone with women who aren't my wife.

You get the idea.

*It may be polite to you and your wife, but it is incredibly impolite to your neighbor, no matter how you slice it. She may be gay, she may be overwhelmed by being a solo mom. She may not want to have you in her house, she may badly want company. At the end of the day, you're not looking out for your neighbor, you're looking out for yourself and your wife.

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    He should be looking out for his wife, sometimes that's how people stay married! – Will Crawford Jan 20 '18 at 1:14
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    This isn't a matter of whether he should or shouldn't look out for his wife. I'm not clear on why you brought that up. – lead Jan 20 '18 at 6:08
  • It's a response to the final sentence, right above the comment. – Will Crawford Jan 20 '18 at 9:45
  • Footnote, rather – Will Crawford Jan 20 '18 at 9:46
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    Yeah, but that's still irrelevant. The question is about being polite to his neighbor. There are aspects of married relationships which prioritize your spouse above others, but there's nothing that says that's "polite" to the other person. – lead Jan 21 '18 at 16:09
1

Put the blame on your wife (run it by her first of course!). Tell your neighbor that you simply prefer your wife go to Jane's house to watch the kids while they play. You could say that she's better at dealing with emergency situations in case anything happened or that she's better with other kids. No need to get extremely detailed, just get the point across that you cannot comply with her request.

These options sidestep any accusations and will still give you and your wife an opportunity to build a relationship with your neighbor.

-1

“I feel that children that young, even as well-behaved as ours are, need to have their parents present. But, I may some day (some reason for public attention) and don’t want to make the cover of National Enquirer. Besides, it’s kind of a nice gesture for my wife.”

Or,

“Thanks for asking, but we are about to go to _______.” And if the place is sufficiently public for your comfort, add, “Would you like to join us?” Obviously, you’d have to be prepared to actually do it when the situation arises. It might still seem strange if you were quite the homebody before, and now you’re suddenly constantly going places.

  • 4
    I suspect that saying that entering your neighbor's home could cause you to make the cover of National Enquirer will: A. deeply confuse your neighbor because they don't understand how a play date would become a national scandal or B. offend your neighbor by insinuating that allowing your kids to play at her home is so scandalous so as to be fodder for tabloids. – Zach Lipton Jan 19 '18 at 6:19
  • 1
    Sounds like you haven’t seen much of the National Enquirer. And nowadays, formerly respected media are increasingly adopting the Enquirer’s sleazy approach. – WGroleau Jan 19 '18 at 13:13
  • @ZachLipton It might not be obvious by the answer's wording, but notice the "(some reason for public attention)". So that should be read as, for example, "But, I may some day run for governer and don't want to make the cover of National Enquirer." It's essentially a joke to make light of the situation. As silly as it is, that might go over better than some of the other answers. – Aaron Jan 22 '18 at 21:10
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    @Aaron I don't see how anyone would find a "joke" amusing that insinuated that one's home is of such ill-repute that simply being seen entering it to pick up your children would derail your career (especially in an era where alleged affairs with porn stars have no effect, but I digress). If the OP wants to have this policy for himself, he should own it as his own personal preference and not insult the neighbor by suggesting his worldwide reputation will be shattered if their kids play together. – Zach Lipton Jan 22 '18 at 21:25
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    @ZachLipton It sounds like perhaps you don't understand the reputation of the Enquirer and those like it. It is specifically understood by many people that they are half full of lies or at least gross misrepresentations. Therefore there is nothing being implied about the state of the neighbor's home, ill-repute or otherwise. It could be a great place and completely upstanding, but that is irrelevant if an Enquirer article takes a picture of you entering that house and titles the article "Bob's Secret New Girlfriend: What His Wife Doesn't Know". Though a dumb lie, it's bad rep. – Aaron Jan 22 '18 at 22:00

protected by Community Jan 19 '18 at 12:12

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