I need some help with turning a very disappointing event into a learning opportunity. Last night my 9-year-old son was to spend the night with my neighbor's son, and the neighbor's girlfriend's kids. During the course of the evening my doorbell rings. It's my son, crying, and his friend's dad. He said he was sending him home due to being rude, disrespectful, and defiant to authority. But he didn't provide me specific examples of what my son actually did. I asked my son what happened and he said when the dad was trying to talk to them about something he couldn't stop laughing because of something another child said.

Needless to say, my son was really sad. I want to use this as a learning opportunity. I told him he has to listen and be respectful to adults. Today, my son went over to play and the dad wouldn't let him. The worst part is that they live direct across the street from me so I have got to find a solution or else this will be a long term problem.

Any advice would be greatly appreciated. Thanks.

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    Sounds like a bit of an overreaction if you ask me. You should talk to the dad and get specific details. Commented Aug 28, 2017 at 0:02
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    Congratulations: your kid knows not to respect jerks who think they're entitled to respect. Commented Aug 28, 2017 at 15:36
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    @R You don't think someone who is hosting you in their house is entitled to a baseline level of respect? Commented Aug 28, 2017 at 18:51
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    @ChrisSunami it looks like the host is demanding a ridiculous amount of respect from a 9 year old based on the OPs post. So, no I don't think he's entitled to that amount of respect
    – Mennyg
    Commented Aug 28, 2017 at 19:38
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    If a child is not sure what they did wrong, they are likely to assume it is the most recent thing they did. Thus, in your son's mind, laughing was the problem. But there may be other actions that preceded this that also (rightly or wrongly) contributed to the neighbour's reaction, and your son just doesn't realise. So, as others have said, it is essential that the next step is to get more details from your neighbour about their reasons. Commented Aug 29, 2017 at 9:41

22 Answers 22


It is a learning opportunity, but for more than one person, especially your child and you.

First, you need to get the whole story, and you can't get it all from your son; he may well not understand what the adult was expecting at the time. So speak to the adult.

I did say adult, but that is not the way an adult should handle the situation. Were it a sleepover at my house, and a child was misbehaving badly, I would not send a child home; I would sit down with them privately and go over what I expect of them (no hurting other kids, no name calling, etc.) Only if the child was truly hurtful again after a warning would I take a guest back to their house.

Laughing while I (as an adult) was explaining something might get the kid a lecture, but not the boot. Sending a kid home for disrespecting an adult sends up all kinds of red flags to me.

Talk to your neighbor. Be careful to remain very neutral; if he feels judged, he may make things out to be worse than they were. Get as much detail as you can.

Check in with your son. Compare the stories. Figure out to the best of your ability what likely happened, and who was more at fault for being "disrespectful", your son or your neighbor? Keep that in mind for the future.

Have your son make a formal apology to your neighbor. An apology is more than just "I'm sorry." Have your son also name what he did wrong and have him assure the adult he won't do it again.

If that's not enough to put your son back in the neighbor's good graces, that's another red flag.

Whatever you do, support your son where you can as well. He was humiliated in front of his friends (maybe he deserved it, but maybe not) and he came home crying. He has suffered.

Personally, I'm not in favor of of a blind "respect authority" approach. Please read about Adam Walsh for an extreme case, or any story of child abuse for an everyday example. Not all adults should be obeyed. Some adults should be steered clear of.

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    Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. Commented Nov 12, 2018 at 15:20

Either dad is overreacting or there is more to the story than he initially reported. I can't imagine that something the child has already been corrected for (taken home, not allowed to stay) would then require additional penalties. I wouldn't say that to the dad, as it's not likely to go over well telling an adult you think they are handling something badly. Instead, I'd ask him to clarify and ask what his intentions are here and when will this pass, or does he want my child do do something to get back in his good graces.

Perhaps it could be something as simple as the dad thinking that your son should have come over to apologize. He might see his coming over to play as him not dealing with it. I know your son might be sorry for sure, but that doesn't mean he has told that dad he is sorry. Usually a direct apology and ownership of the mistake is enough to get most adults to let it go. I would hope so in this case if all he did was laugh at the wrong time.

I would also ask your son again about the laughing. Maybe he did laugh at what another child said. I would check in though to see if it's more than just that. Laughing while under stress is actually a known character trait. I have a child that laughs when she is in trouble. It isn't meant to be rude and it's something I will have to help her learn to curb, but it's a nervous reaction.

I don't recall having it as a child (though perhaps I did) but I am also one to laugh sometimes at the wrong time as an adult. I hate when it happens. It absolutely will offend people if the timing is awful. I have laughed during a funeral, where I was very sad. Sometimes the more sad and stressed I am, the more likely I am to find everything hilarious. I have no idea why and wish I didn't most of the time.

I assume it's my system's way of getting through a difficult time. I am especially prone to long fits of giggling (like eye watering, need to sit down laughing) when going through grief. I didn't even know that until I was grown and started having losses that were people closer to me. I laugh a lot during grief. That generally doesn't bother me, as usually it happens at okay times, like when I am at home on my way to the funeral and spill coffee all over.

Normally such a thing will cause me maybe to swear, and be annoyed. When I am under stress or grief it may cause me a 10 mins laughing fit. I have then had it prolonged because the more other people seem confused about why I am laughing, I laugh at how stupid my reason is. It sometimes is referred to as "inappropriate affect". If it happens all the time, it's a real issue that you should seek help with.

If it's more specific, like when in trouble, or only under specific stresses and doesn't impair your life, it's just something you work on curbing. I just brought it up in case you do see this come out from him at other times. Getting in trouble for it won't assist you in learning how to manage it in a way that others won't find as offensive.

  • 1
    I've seen that happen with others when they've received shocking bad news and have even experienced it myself. The Wikipedia article on nervous laughter mentions "In A Brief Tour of Human Consciousness, neuroscientist V.S. Ramachandran suggests that laughter is used as a defense mechanism used to guard against overwhelming anxiety. Laughter often diminishes the suffering associated with a traumatic event."
    – moonpoint
    Commented Sep 1, 2017 at 20:25

I think there are two possibilities:

  1. The other dad is crazy. Sorry, maybe I am exaggerating, but if your son said the truth, I would be the one never to send my son over. I am especially worried about the fact the next day he would not allow him over, it seems a childish behavior and what I expect from someone who has a really big ego problem.

  2. Your son is not saying a fraction of what happened. He may have done something really bad he is afraid of letting you know, and so that even the other dad is not telling you for fear of generating real problems (so the other dad is actually being respectful and tactful). No idea of what that might be, but it must be something really serious.

Either way, you need to decide which one, and I think the only way is to have a very frank, open discussion with your neighbour, and then with your son again.

Having your son apologise until you know what happened makes no sense to me, apologise for what? You need to get to the bottom of it so, if something happened, you apologise for what really happened.

  • 46
    I'd like to add to this...My kids are now young adults, and looking back (and listening to what they remember), my failures I most regret are not when I failed to back up adults against them, but when I failed to take their side and should have. The world is brimming over with crazy adults, and they are in a powerless position against the crazy. They need you to have their backs. Not that your kids aren't crazy too of course...
    – T.E.D.
    Commented Aug 28, 2017 at 15:09
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    +1000 to @T.E.D. if I could. Commented Aug 28, 2017 at 15:41
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    @anongoodnurse I did not say do not apologise, I said get the facts first. You cannot apologise if you have no idea of what the facts are. Apologise for what? You don't know. Get the facts straight first, then make the decision.
    – user
    Commented Aug 28, 2017 at 16:15
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    Ah, you're right. I read that too quickly. My apologies. I'll try to be more careful. Commented Aug 28, 2017 at 16:21
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    +1 for considering the (perhaps unlikely) scenario that the other dad is actually respectful or perhaps ashamed of telling the truth. A classic scenario is the kids were "caught" in playing "doctor", a very normal activity that many parents dislike and dont know how to handle. A wild guess, I know :)
    – Vingtoft
    Commented Aug 30, 2017 at 11:05

Something does not add up. I would definitely talk to the other dad and say something along the lines of "I'm sorry my son misbehaved. Could you give me some details so that I can make sure he understands what he did was wrong?" No matter what he says, I would reply with "Thanks, I'll talk to my son about it."

This gives you a chance to get the whole story. It may be that your son was telling the truth, that there was a misunderstanding, or that your son was, in fact, misbehaving.

If the first, as others have said, this seems like an overreaction and I would take it as a warning sign.

If the second, I would give it a few days for things to cool off. Then go over with your son, apologize for the misunderstanding and maybe invite their kids over to your house to play.

If the third, talk to your son about what he did wrong and make him go over and apologize.

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    "I'm sorry my son misbehaved" is inappropriate and unfair to OP's son when there's been no indication that such a thing actually happened. More appropriate would be something along the lines of "I'm upset with what happened last night and need to know details about what happened." Commented Aug 28, 2017 at 15:41
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    @R.. The other dad brought the son home implying he had misbehaved. So, it is appropriate to say "I am sorry my son misbehaved" (according to him) and ask for details. It is just a way to open the conversation and understand what happened. If nothing happened, having said that is not really hurtful to anyone.
    – user
    Commented Aug 28, 2017 at 16:33
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    @user: Given that the other dad was initially not forthcoming about details, it seems unlikely that there was misbehavior, especially not at the level that would warrant an apology when the other side was much more at fault. Commented Aug 28, 2017 at 18:05
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    @R.. Um, call me crazy but the other parent making your child come home from a sleepover because he misbehaved is, you know, an indicator that it happened. OP doesn't state whether he asked for details or not during the initial conversation. Depending on what was going on, the other dad may not have had time to volunteer details if there was a houseful of kids that he needed to get back to watching.
    – Kevin
    Commented Aug 28, 2017 at 18:16
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    +1 I think this is a productive way to approach the other parent, even, or perhaps especially if you suspect they are overreacting. @R Since the parents are presumably not having this discussion in front of the son, it won't affect him directly. You want the other parent to at least think you are giving him the benefit of the doubt that he had good reasons for his decision --that doesn't equate to selling out your son. I can think of plenty of situations where both the child and the adult's renditions of what happened (as depicted by the OP) are reasonably accurate. Commented Aug 28, 2017 at 18:24

I always used to smile/grin when I was nervous as a child. It was something I couldn't help. A lot of people misconstrued it as being cheeky and defiant.

I can imagine that at 9 years old, I would have been grinning from ear to ear if a neighbour had told me off. In fact I'm sure it happened a few times.

It could be something your son always does, or just did in this situation.

Either way, I'd explain this possibility to the neighbour and see if he's open to taking a look at the situation from the perspective of a young child.

Whether the neighbour is receptive or not, I would explain to your son that I think it was a nervous smile, and that people will misunderstand it in future, so he should try not to do it, but not to worry too much because humans misunderstanding each other is a part of life.

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    It's certainly a possibility. Do you think the child would recognize it as a smile out of nervousness if it was suggested?
    – Octopus
    Commented Aug 28, 2017 at 22:57
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    @Octopus I don't think there's enough information to answer that with anything but a guess.
    – Dom
    Commented Aug 30, 2017 at 18:40

Even assuming that your son is telling the truth and the whole truth and not shading the truth, the father's reaction seems perfectly reasonable to me. It's not a motel or a football stadium, it's someone's home. It's a privilege for your son to be invited there. This man is not a teacher or babysitter being paid to handle your son's behavior.

What's conspicuously missing from the whole story is an apology by your son. Of course the dad didn't let him come over the next day -- he's waiting for an apology from the kid acknowledging that he was rude and promising to behave better in the future. Such an apology should have happened early on, like immediately. If the kid has never learned how to apologize for misbehavior, then it's time for him to learn. His behavior was rude on the face of it, even if there is nothing more to the story than what he said.

It's possible that he really didn't intend to be rude, but that doesn't matter. If I step on someone's toe in the supermarket, I don't laugh it off, and it doesn't matter that I didn't intend to step on their toe. I apologize immediately because that's polite behavior in that situation. Ditto if I ask a woman when the baby is due when in fact she's not pregnant. Ditto if I make a joke about plumbers' butt cracks at a barbecue, and it turns out the guy I was telling it to was a plumber. It doesn't matter if I thought the woman was pregnant, or I didn't know the guy was a plumber. Your son is 9, and that's plenty old enough to understand this concept of polite behavior.

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    Of course anyone can decide how guests should behave, and set up rules, however that does not mean that the rules are reasonable. I may be invited to dinner, and may be asking for salt, and the host may get so offended to tell me to leave me immediately and never come back. It is his/her right, and of course I would do so. Does it mean that the host's reaction was reasonable? I do not think so. Of course different people may judge it differently, but I believe, to most people, such behaviour would not be reasonable, and it would be considered over-reacting.
    – user
    Commented Aug 30, 2017 at 1:05
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    @user unreasonable, yes, and I would probably never want to go over to their house again. I also would support my kids in that case. But I still would teach my children that they're a guest and their options are to either suck it up, or leave and not be party to the craziness. (And as it relates to the OPs circumstance, I'd also encourage my son to invite his friends over to our house, and either discourage or forbid him from such a damaging environment). Commented Aug 31, 2017 at 14:10
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    If a grown up cannot teach a kid a bit of patience and tolerance with guests/others, we are doomed
    – blurfus
    Commented Sep 3, 2017 at 16:41
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    Expecting a 9 year old to have a deep understanding of a confusing, complex and nuanced social construct that varies widely between cultures and communities is absolutely NOT reasonable. It's irrational to expect children to be rational
    – barbecue
    Commented Sep 4, 2017 at 0:44

As many people has pointed out: Something does not match up. Your neighbours reaction is, according to the vast majority, not proportional to the "crime".

Many years ago a similar thing happened for a friend: His son was caught playing doctor at a friends house. He was sent home, and neither the parents, being ashamed of their own child, or the my friends son (also ashamed) told the truth.

This explanation might be unlikely, but at least you should consider it and talk to your son about it.


This may largely be a matter of different parenting styles and expectations. I don't feel it needs to end up being a case where you feel you have to take sides between your son and your neighbor --they might both be "right" in different ways. As most other people have mentioned, the first step is to have a private, adult-to-adult conversation with your neighbor, and get the full story from his side, with details. This really should have happened as soon as possible, and definitely prior to your son trying to go play at the neighbor's house again.

What we do definitely know is that there is a disconnect between what this parent expects, and your son's behavior. After hearing the whole story, you might decide that the other parent's expectations are unreasonable, and that your son shouldn't try to meet them. In that case, your son shouldn't play over there any more. On the other hand, even the best raised 9-year-olds can misjudge the right time for a joke. If the other parent was trying to explain a safety matter, or respond to a child being hurt, for example, a bunch of inappropriate laughter might have been more than he wanted to put up with at that moment. In that case, you should have a talk with your son about the need to match his behavior to the other parent's expectations if he wants to be invited to play there again (emphasis on "invited").

Either way, it is a parent's right (barring abusiveness) to set expectations in their own house, and to expect child guests to honor those (maybe he just didn't want to be laughed at by a 9-year-old in front of his own kids). We all encounter situations where we either have to meet the local standard or go home (whether we agree with it may be besides the point). The fact that you live across the street doesn't obligate either you to change your standards, or them to change theirs.


He said he was sending him home due to being rude, disrespectful, and defiant to authority. But he didn't provide me specific examples of what my son actually did.

This is a huge red flag. Passive aggressive behavior like this (i.e., no specific example) shows a lack of respect in general. The fact that he held a grudge the next day demonstrates that he's petty and judgmental. A grudge against a 9-year-old! If you can't handle the energy of a few random kids with different upbringings, then don't host a sleep over. He's weak.

I would side with your son without investigating further. Trust your kid. If the other father had a valid point, your kid had already learned that lesson.

The real lesson here for your son is you don't solve problems by avoidance. You confront problems directly, unlike this guy. If someone under your authority misbehaves then you correct them, you don't ostracize them or hold a grudge. If you cannot handle a problem, you communicate it properly and not with the judgmental nonsense that this guy laid on you.

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    This doesn't sound like a huge red flag to me. It sounds like the child was told to do something and refused, rudely. I didn't read it that the neighbor refused to provide examples, but rather that the parent didn't ask for them at the time. Really there is not enough information in the question to make judgement's on peoples character.
    – Segfault
    Commented Aug 29, 2017 at 18:15

Nobody is perfect, so it stands to reason that the child could have done something better. It would be wise for the child to spend some time reflecting on this to find out what they truthfully could have done better in that situation, and if it makes sense, to find some way to recompense (maybe by apologizing) for that. This is because a major goal of life is to become perfect (while keeping in mind that perfection is not an expectation). So, this is an opportunity for the kid to learn.

The same argument applies to his friends father. It is tempting to throw him under the bus, so to speak. He surely could have done something better, logically speaking and also as has been pointed by others in this forum. This is also an opportunity for him to reflect on the situation and figure out how to be better. That is most likely accomplished by you just being friendly.

It's important to keep in mind that he is in authority in his home whether you agree with him or not. In an orderly society, it behooves you to respect that authority regardless of your respect towards him personally. It's his house, and if he doesn't want your child over, then it isn't right for your kid to be there (barring extreme situations, of course).

Therefore, showing goodwill towards him by talking about the situation in a calm way and by offering a token of friendship (say by just being friendly, inviting him over, giving him a gift, apologizing, or even making a joke) would go a long way to help the situation. If he is simply unreasonable, you'll find out, but that isn't an excuse for not offering your friendship. If you think he is an unstable person, then of course, it would be wise to handle that as required. However, it would be unfair to assume that without real evidence.

One more thing, depending on the seriousness of the situation, which you can find out talking to the man, then it might not be helpful to dig for every detail of what happened. The act of digging may escalate the situation beyond what is really required. That would remove the opportunity for your child to learn by handling it personally, it might make your neighbor think that you are the crazy one (in spite of the speculation here that he is), and most importantly, it would take a great deal of emotional energy that could be put to better use elsewhere.

Good luck and God speed.


It's possible that laughing at the wrong time was just the final straw that resulted in your son being escorted home, but there were earlier contributing factors. To your son the "cause" would be the thing that happened immediately prior to being brought back while to your neighbor there may have been a whole string of escalating incidents. Your son said "the dad was trying to talk to them about something" - if that was already a "you need to not do X" conversation then I could understand your neighbor being upset he wasn't listening.

You could try talking to your son about what happened earlier at the sleepover. Were they playing a game? Were they running around? Did they do anything that doesn't happen at your house? Let him recite it all to you first, so you don't stop his flow, then if you see any red flags in that you can ask deeper questions on maybe "did something get broken" or "did that upset the father" etc.


Before further action, I would personally consider the following:

  1. A 9 year-old is already able to detail and explain complex situations;
  2. All the details that your son provide may be useful in future exchanges with your neighbors;
  3. If you think he omitted details or lied, refrain from accusing him, since the situation may have been more delicate than apparently you may believe it was;
  4. Figure out how to approach your neighbor in a kind manner, e.g.:

    I am sorry about the situation on the other day that disturbed everyone, I already spoke with my son and he was not able to provide me further details. However, I would like him to learn how to respect others no matter the situation. Would you please describe to me what happened so that I am able to explain him how to be respectful in these situations?

Accepting an inevitable separation from all contact with your neighbors may hurt neighborhood relationships and, especially, your son and your neighbor's kids feelings. It also may be completely unnecessary without understanding the real reason behind the problem. Further analysis of both explanations may lead you to a more substantial conclusion and allow you to act accordingly.


You are assuming your son is telling you the whole story, that he behaved correctly and didn't do anything wrong. That's a bad assumption.

If your son did something wrong most probably he will try to hide or disguise it if he expects you could react. No matter the level of confidence you have on him. It's human nature.

When a bunch of kids gather in unusual place/circumstances/etc they may act like a bunch of psychos. I have seen this happened a lot of times working with kids. One has a "great idea" and the rest will follow.... And it isn't always the "leader" who pays the consequences, maybe the shy well-mannered candid kid is who ends getting all the fault.

"Problem was someone thought it was a great idea to play with a basket ball inside the house, consequence was a broken flat TV, culprit was that bloody giggling kid"

Anyway, you should talk with an adult face-to-face about what happened and stop guessing. And yes, the basket ball, broken TV and giggling kid was a true story.

  • The friends father won't give any details though to back up his side of the story. To send the child home, and chastise him in front of his mom, is quite an insult, and warrant's an explanation. Commented Sep 17, 2017 at 21:34

The fact that this father was ready to completely humiliate you and your son over what sounds like a triviality, doesn't say anything good about him. If your son had actually done anything warranting this sort of treatment, the father would have told you about it. The fact that he wouldn't give any details most likely means that he knows it will sound petty.

The most important thing is to support your son. In the absence of any other evidence I think you need to assume the other child's father is really the one at fault, and not your son.

The father sounds like a very petty, insecure man, who requires absolute obedience in order to validate himself.

Perhaps you can approach the father again and ask him to tell you what your son did, so that you can speak to him about it. If he still refuses to give any details, then your son probably just needs to hang out with his friend elsewhere. There may not be any better resolution. If it were my son, I would have concerns about him being around such a person anyway.


This mainly is in response to some other answers but I don't have enough to comment. While it's true you can "kick-out" a guest from your home for any reason, it's a bit different with children involved. The neighbor agreed to take care of them for the night. What if he kicked the kid out and no one was home to let him back in? I would at least expect the neighbor to call to make sure someone was home.

My advice is to get more information from the neighbor. Try to sound casual and nonjudgmental. Start out the conversation with something short like "so what happened at the sleep over?".

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    If you read the OP's text, the parent did walk the child home. Commented Aug 31, 2017 at 14:11
  • @WayneWerner this is true however it would have been very awkward if no one was home or the parents were planning on going out. This was more meant in response to an answer where they were claiming the host can kick a person out at any time, and my point is with children it's different. I don't see the answer here anymore anyway. Commented Sep 1, 2017 at 11:43
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    If you really feel that you can't handle a kid, it's much better to walk them home then to call. Calling leads to bargaining. Walking home is "Here take your kid, I'm out".
    – coteyr
    Commented Sep 4, 2017 at 13:46
  • @coteyr and what if no one was home? Commented Sep 5, 2017 at 5:19

Lots of great answers here. Just my 2 cents.

I am noticing an inconsistency here. Your neighbors are having sleepovers. Other people trust their kids to go there safely. Might be worth finding out from other parents if they ever had an experience like that with that particular family. If it's the dad, then you're likely to hear something from other parents.

There's also another option. Your son might have done something that is not easily discussed with other adults - say, maybe touch someone inappropriately (in play, and not stop when told), say or do something indicative of taboo problems with adults close to him. Kids around his age act out sexual abuse on their peers without really understanding what they are doing. I sincerely hope it's not the case but if we assume the dad in question is sane since there isn't a reason to assume otherwise, something your son did might indicate a problem another adult is not comfortable, or knows how to, bring up with parents.

Again, I sincerely hope I am wrong but unfortunately child abuse is common enough to make sure everyone is aware of red flags as early as possible.


I told him he has to listen and be respectful to adults.

I think you should teach exactly the opposite lesson: while he must not be nasty to disadvantaged people (smaller chidren, persons with disabilities), he has the right to form his own relationships with and attitudes to his equals and authorities.

While most adults preteens interact with (parents, teachers, doctors) have or are required to have their interests at heart and can be relied upon to provide honest and valuable feedback, it will eventually change. It's a good agreement to establish anytime, including now: tell your son you will not punish him if a third party doesn't like him. Any fundamental behavioral lessons that could've been imparted already have been: he pissed off a guy and now has to live with the consequences of having pissed off a guy.

Step 2, if he isn't happy with the outcome (sounds like he isn't), you can offer to help him to sort out the situation (provided he tells you the truth, not because you demand to know but because your advice won't be any good otherwise). Maybe your son really did something bad and needs help recognizing why it's bad, and then he might want to extend a genuine apology. Maybe the guy overreacted and your son might want to offer a fake apology (tell him there's nothing demeaning about it -- on the contrary, it's clever to successfully trick an unreasonable douche).


being rude, disrespectful, and defiant to authority.

Well this is really all you have to go on. You could ask your son, but if he doesn't understand what wen't wrong then he won't be able to tell you.

For example, I could totally see sending a kid (or all kids home) for laughing at an adult that had a disability for hours on end. Even when told to stop, and when it was explained.

I could also see doing it if (sending kids home) if the "defiant to authority" was something like "I told you before, don't hit Suzie with the flash light" and they keep doing it and laughing about it.

I could also be ok with (though I personally wouldn't) them sending my kids home because they didn't know how to get them to behave. People have very different ideas of what's ok for discipline and what is not. I would much rather you send my kids home then spank them, for example.

Now when I would get frustrated enough to send kids home, I most certainly would not want to talk to the parents right away. I know I need to provide a reason, but "Billy did x, y and z" just isn't in me at that point. If you responded with a "but did you try.." then were in an argument as adults, and that's a really bad thing. I mean I'm already upset enough to bring kids home, Last thing I want to hear is how your son is a perfect angle, and can do no wrong. The next day, however seems like a great time to have a talk about what went wrong and what the fall out is going to be.

There are a few things to remember though:

  • Unless these people are mental, your son did do something wrong in their eyes. Different people have different rules, expectations, and needs. So you might not think it was wrong, but they might find it totally unacceptable.
  • Your son has already, "paid the price". Even if the neighbors come back with something that you feel is extremely bad behavior, don't issue ner punishments.
  • There are many reasons to send kids home. Some are as a punishment, and some are because you don't know how to handle them. Not all of them are because the child is so bad. Maybe the parent has an issue, or is trying to correct behaviors in their own child and your got caught up in the "If you don't stop fighting, Everyone is going home."

To get this turned around into a learning situation and not just a "I have been punished" situation, your can look at and examine how different religions and cultures handle different behaviors. You can show, for example that Muslim women "cover their faces" while Christian people do not. Or that some cultures spank, and you don't. Look at history and today and point out how the same actions are though of as acceptable, and totally not acceptable to different people.

It's important to show both the actions and the punishments changing with the people in question.

Then you can explain how Mr. Neighbor though an action was bad, even though you don't. And how his "punishment" was different then you would have done. You can explain, or try to, that when your at Mr. Neighbors house, you need to follow his rules. Even if they seem weird.

Finally you should be prepared that your son is now considered a bad influence on his friend. I certainly would not let my kids hang out with other kids that I thought were a bad influence. But keep in mind that one persons idea of bad influence doesn't need to line up with another's (or line up with popular culture's ideas).


It is possible that both are telling the truth and that there was no deliberate wrong doing on anyone's part. At sleep overs, normal rules are relaxed which can create stress. People with some otherwise innocuous medical conditions (PTSD, scarring on the brain from an old concussion) can react in unpredictable manners to normal situations when under stress.


That sounds very antiquated from that father. If your son is 9yo, then he will TOTALLY understand if you explain him that this guy has an inferiority complex and he doesn't hesitate to make others feel less. Also tell him to be respectful whenever he can. Be it because he wants more friends or because he wants to avoid stupid people like your neighbor. And about that, from now on totally ignore your neighbor. It wont be uncomfortable, just avoid him because he is stupid.


I have serious concerns about any parent who would describe a 9 year old as "defiant" or "disrespectful" as though that was worthy of punitive action. Children are not soldiers who should blindly obey orders nor does punishing them accomplish anything of value. This makes me question the father's conduct, not your son;s. Maybe the only lesson for your son to learn is that his friend's dad is very controlling and treats children badly.

  • I know there are studies showing that punishment is wrong. But I have to disagree with almost every point in your answer. 9 is old enough to expect respect and trying to follow the rules. Punishment can work so long as it makes sense. Don't run with scissors -> OK, you can use scissors for a while. As for picking on the friend's dad, you don't know what happened, try not to pass judgement. Walking a kid home because your 3 seconds away from loosing your dad cool is not a bad thing to do.
    – coteyr
    Commented Sep 4, 2017 at 13:49

Let's look at this from the neighbor's perspective. The neighbor kid is spending the night at your house. What series of unfortunate events would have to occur for you to humiliate the neighbor kid by taking him home early like that? I'm a parent and I would bend over backwards to avoid it. In other words, if that threshold was reached then it's serious enough to provide sufficient detail to the other parent.

I'm talking bad stuff like breaking another window after being told not to throw things in the house. Something like outright insubordination. If your son is able to navigate school daily without getting into trouble then this is the neighbor's issue. Seems like all your kid did was misread a situation in somebody else's house.

You don't want your kid in that house anyway. The boys can play outside. Any future invitations would require a face-to-face otherwise I wouldn't investigate much further. I'd be cordial but distant to the neighbor in hopes the boys would still be friends. Children are wonderfully resilient little creatures.

I feel for the kid across the street. Maybe you could include him in some of your family activities occasionally if the situation allows. I also feel for your son.

  • Not a downvoter, but a mod. Speculation - especially unhelpful speculation - is going to get you downvotes. Don't know how this pertains to the problem at all. Commented Aug 31, 2017 at 18:45

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