My son just broke my heart...


8 Years
Oct 16, 2011
Eatonville, WA
My 8 year old son is really the dearest boy ever. He came to us with AD/HD and fetal alcohol effects, but as we've had him in our home since he was 2 days old, we've been able to nurture him through many of the issues that have come up. School is hard for him, but after a lot of support (both behavioral and academic), he's doing a lot better this year. Only one trip to the office so far! (And as I'm a teacher down the hall, I know everything.) My husband and I, while often worn out and/or frustrated, have seen a lot of improvement and signs of maturity lately.

And then the neighbor lady came over the afternoon. A couple weeks ago we discovered that our son and the neighbor boy had taken 2 items from the yard of the new neighbors down the road. Husband and son tried to make amends, and all seemed relatively friendly. Neighbor boy and family were away on vacation at the time, and my son has been on pins and needles, knowing that new neighbor needed to talk to neighbor boy.

Well, turns out new neighbor was really steamed (rightfully so) and left a scathing, 4 page note on neighbor boy's door. Neighbor boy's mom came by today to give me the note, and to tell my son that he would NEVER be playing with her son again.

Okay, so I have only 2 neighbors, and they both hate my son. Now, my son is in BIG trouble, don't get me wrong. We're thinking a little family field trip to the police station, along with restitution to the neighbor is in order. I just wish folk would remember that even the best raised kids do stupid things, and that maybe working out a better supervision plan for the boys would be better than cutting them off. Especially since both boys were equally involved

I'm just brokenhearted about my son's behavior...about the loss of his only friend in the area...about having neighbors who hate us...about trying my hardest as a parent, only to feel like I've failed miserably...Sigh...

That's a lot of guilt on one little boy and a mom! Find him some other friends. Neighbors are not his only source and you may find better quality friends elsewhere. Honestly me being me, would probably have agreed with her and told her I felt exactly the same way. Since her son was just as involved and just as wrong you just could not be sure this would not happen again if you son was hanging out with the same crown. But I am mean and more like a rabid mommy grizzly so thats probably not a great idea.

I think restitution to the neighbor is sufficient really. He is not so hardened a criminal that he needs a trip to the station. Kids will do stupid stuff and they will have to learn a lesson but this doesn't make him a bad boy and if the neighbors think so.......well show them the door. Don't try to correct him until they approve, that never works. Look at youth groups, scouts, 4h, ect. You will find some great kids and some great parents in these and he will have lots of friends in no time. ( my son had a really difficult time making friends and 4h and scouts was lifesavers)
This really upsets me. I have raised 3 children and have always taught them the importance of honesty and integrity. They never went without and had all that it was in our power to provide for them. Despite this my eldest at 5 came home from school with her sleeves stuffed full of toy farm animals, and my 7 year old son took drinks out of other children's lunch packs. I was in despair both times imagining that this was the slippery slope and the start of a criminal career. My parents pointed out that raised in a home where everyone shared readily and freely of their possessions, my children would see no conflict in 'borrowing' from others.

It is a great pity that this neighbour hadn't the maturity to handle this situation differently. It is vital that children learn honesty, of course it is, but having worked with children all my adult life I know that their ideas of what is theirs and what is not is quite fluid at this age. At this age children are almost entirely motivated by doing things for fun. All their little mischieves are calculated to bring fun/excitement into their lives. Who hasn't scrumped apples from a grumpy old neighbour's trees, or knocked on their door and run away? (We call this knock down ginger).

Please don't think too badly of your little son, because essentially, that is the reason for this mischief, he is little and lacking in understanding. Explain to him that adults get very upset when their property is mishandled. Ask him how he would feel if another child took away his favourite toy. Take him to apologise in person, or failing that help him to write a note of apology. Help him to do a kindness for that neighbour so that he has 'paid' for the error of his ways. DO NOT TAKE HIM TO ANY POLICE STATION OR THREATEN/FRIGHTEN HIM WITH THE LAW. Teach him that the police are his friends, and the law is there to protect him.

You have clearly done and are doing a very good job with your son. Don't listen to the doom mongers amongst us. Use your own skill and judgement when handling awkward situations, you have plenty of both as your son is obviously thriving. Incidently, my own children grew up to be honest adults have had never had any dealings with the law, SO TAKE HEART MY DEAR!
Yeah, when I was a little calmer and more rational, I nixed the whole police station visit, too. My boy knows that police are the good guys, and I want to keep it that way. Interestingly, the neighbor boy's parents are both police officers, and my husband and I are both teachers, so we both hold our kids to pretty high standards. So the victim neighbor's claim that we obviously don't care to teach our kids old-fashioned values like respect for property is obviously hogwash. SHE taught HER son to behave, and she was expecting that others did the same. Humph! I betcha her son wasn't done learning and being raised when he was 8!

Anyway, the boys are separated, the neighbor's property is off-limits, and we'll see what happens. I sure hope my son doesn't become the villain, here, because he really is a sweet kid with a good heart who periodically does really bonehead things. We're trying to figure out what to do for restitution.

Thanks for the words of encouragement!

You kinda sound like you are defending his actions and comparing him to others. Kinda like its not really that big of a deal because hes a kid.
You need not worry about what the neighbors kids have done..
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I'm really sorry, you are going through this. He is only 8.

Kids are still figuring out right from wrong. You have made it clear that this is not acceptable. I'm sure, he will learn from this.
Surprised the new neighbors would leave a four page note on someones stoop.. Really.. Sounds odd to me.. I've only ever left my neighbors a note once, when I was dropping off garlic, to plant. It was a one page note about how to plant it, grow it ect.

I'm sure the nieghbors will come around, both of them.. A little space over the winter won't hurt.. I'm sure all will be forgotten in the spring.

Sounds like the neighbor whom they took from is elderly/ older?
Are you in a place where it snows, or storms with downed trees? Some young muscle and labor is in order. Shoveling off there stoop, of picking up downed branches. May win their hearts back.

They may not be able to do this labor tomorow. But if they woke up, with the driveway shoveled ect. (Under supervision)
I think they would be tickled pink.

All the best, to you!! Caring is more then a lot of parents do! (As I'm sure you know)
oh yes, I remember once when I stole something..
I don't remember what it was, I remember being walked back into the store, to give it back, being grounded and talked about by the adults.. Never stole again... It was candy or chips or something of the likes,, Funny how when you get older, you don't remember the item, just how much you let someone down.. He will remember this too
Let me start by saying I am a retired Special Educator.
Then, let me say growing up and developing into an adult isn't about being PERFECT.
It is about how you learn to handle and correct the mistakes you make in your life.
It sounds to me like that is what you are teaching this youngin', and God Bless Y'all Real Good for doing it.
So screw the neighbors. Who needs 'em anyway, you got chickens.
Stay the course.
I agree your son is only 8. This is a great age to learn about the consequences of his own actions. I also agree that your son may need to find a friend elsewhere. Some combinations of people or boy's are just plain bad. I think of this as a good way to protect your son from the other boy.

That said little boys are never perfect, and rarely think ahead about anything. Two little boys don't think at all, and a group can be very very dumb unless completely supervised.

i can still remember the things that my son got caught up in, because he and others weren't supervised. But he has manage to grow up and become a decent hard working man. You have your handful, with a child that has your son's disabilities, he may always have trouble resisting another persons influence. Over the years you will have a better and better idea of his strengthens and weaknesses. You will only be able to overcome some of the damage that was done to your son before he was born. You can only do the best you can, and it sounds like you are doing that.

I know a family that lives in the Enumclaw area, that has the experience of raising a son with similar disabilities. I can give their information, if you would like to know more about their experience.

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