Backstory: My 8 yr old son is a bright, gentle, etc, kid who attends public school. My wife and I have no TV, we disallow violent games (simulated killing is not allowed), we don't have video games, we teaching proper custodianship of the earth, respecting other people, religions and cultures, and encourage physical activity and exercise. In other words, we're a pretty typical middle class family for our neighborhood.
My son has recently befriended another boy from school who also lives 5 houses down the street. He has a different family culture: his parents allow him to watch R-rated movies, he has at least 20 plastic guns, has a a Wii and an XBOX, knows an array of profanity that my kid doesn't know, eats food I would consider "junk", etc.
So far, this is really just a different set of values and if the list ended there we'd be fine. But when this kid comes over for a play-date (which has happened about 5 times in 2 months) he has said things:
- "Let's pretend this stick is a gun. I wish it were a real gun so I could kill myself!" (My son responded with "Noo.. don't kill yourself, you're my best friend!")
- "My dad took me to a shooting range once so I could shoot I real gun. I wish I could take one of those real guns to school and kill all the stupid teachers!"
- "Death to AMERICA!!" (Yelled while riding his bike home from our house. The neighbors were visibly shocked.)
All this little boy does is talking about guns and killing. He's obsessed. He has been repeatedly in trouble at school and suspended a few times for violent behavior.
Sooo... my wife's reaction is: "he's 8 and he's clearly not serious about what he's saying. If we reject him then he's just further isolated. He needs love and understanding, not further rejection. Our family can help him. It's just a phase."
I sort of see her point, but I am having a visceral instinct that tells me "GET THIS CHILD AWAY FROM MY SON." Worse, my 5 yr old recently said "I'm gonna kill you!" to a friend, and said he learned that from this other child.
My wife and I are now fighting about this.
Question: What should I do?
- I have talked to the kid and warned that if he cannot stop this kind of talk, he won't be welcome in our house. That didn't work... the talk continues.
- I have told my son that his friend is no longer welcome here, which of course caused a lot of drama.
- I have not approached the friend's parents; I have met them a few times and I sense that such a discussion would have a very bad outcome.
Edit: This is a total cop-out, but we're moving away for a year (I'm a college prof going on sabbatical in California for a year). I have to admit, a huge benefit of this move is getting my kid away from this friend for a while. Hopefully things will improve by the time we get back.
Second Edit: Based on comments, I have misled people into believing that my kids don't get video time at all. That is not true. We limit it to one hour per day max (as recommended by the American Academy of Pediatricians), and we limited it to zero before age one (as recommended, again). This was not easy: the temptation to "turn on the magic lights" and go take a nap has been strong at times...