What do YOU think she should do?


I received an email from a good friend who needed some advice and I was kinda stuck so I asked her if I could share the story with you all here. She gladly said yes!

First…a little back story. I’ve known my friend since I’ve lived in Atlanta. She has two children. An 11 year old daughter Kelsey in fifth grade and an eight year old son Carter in third grade. Her kids are some of the most well-behaved kids I’ve ever seen and pretty darn respectful too. She’s a good Momma and they are good kids. Our family enjoys spending time with them.

She got an email the other day from another mom about her son Carter. It read:

I need your help.  Steven has wanted to play football at recess each day this week, but his friends (it’s 3 on 3) say he cannot play.  Monday afternoon Steven and I discussed strategies…maybe he needs to find another person to keep the teams even…but the boys keep saying the league is formed for the year, and no one else can play.  Each day he’s tried a new angle, but no success. Today, one of the boys said, “by the way, you can’t play with us at recess,” when he was walking by in the cafeteria.  This has been tough…these are Steven’s friends.  Let me know if you have any thoughts or insights…Thanks! Janice

I asked her if there was anything more to the story and she said that her son Carter told her that Steven had originally formed a team of his own at the beginning of the year and wouldn’t let him and his friends play on it so they started their own team. So now it seems Steven wants to be on their team.

She feels strongly about letting the boys figure it out for themselves and that her job is preparing the road ahead for her kids, not paving the way. She feels for Steven’s mom Janice and the situation but she also feels that it is better for the boys to work it out on their own and that she shouldn’t intervene. It reminds me of a great message that our Church, North Point Community Church is doing right now called, “Helping the Next Generation Win.” Talking about what can we do to help the next generation to see the world in a way that sets them up for success.

Soooooo what say you? Should she respond to Janice and if so, how? Does she get involved or let the boys figure it out themselves? What would YOU do?

Thanks for your help!

XO Surviving Mommy


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  • Stacy M says:

    It’s so hard when our kiddos feel left out. I feel like it’s such a great parenting moment. Maybe if your friend felt comfortable telling the other mom that her son did the same thing at the beginning of the year, she could use that information to chat with her son about how hurtful it is to leave someone out. I feel for those sweet boys!

  • Robin says:

    I would acknowledge the Mom’s message, empathize with her child being hurt, but would tell her the kids need to work this out themselves. Children can be hurtful. When I was that age I was ostracized for being a brunette – I couldn’t play with the blondes…couldn’t be in their “club.” Yes, I still hold that memory, but we dealt with it without our Mom’s stepping in. They’re just kids.

  • Michelle Sermons says:

    I recently had a similar situation with my 13 year old. This year the 8th grade goes on an trip and the kids have to pick roommates. My son came home from school two weeks ago so happy that he and three of his good fiends agreed to room together on the trip. There were texts with excitement amongst the boys and even us moms discussed it. Two days later my son came home from school very upset that one of the boys in the group had told their friend Chris, that he was no longer rooming with them, some other boy would be taking his place in the room. Completely excluded Chris for no reason. My son was upset (he’s a classic HSC), that his friend was so hurt. I asked my son what he thought the right thing would be to do. He answered “we all stay together that was our agreement”. I said “yes, I would agree, however now there is another boy in the room in place of your Chris now. If the boys don’t agree with you to keep the original 4 in the room, what do you feel would be the next best option”?. He looked at me and said, “mom, if they say no, I will be rooming with Matt and we will find two other roommates, I am not going to be a part of Matt or any of my friends being hurt”. My feeling is as parents we have to get involved and help guide them. They don’t really know how to handle exclusion (a form of bullying), and it hurts. I agree that by explaining how Carter felt when left out, however also explaining that two wrongs don’t make a right. In my case my son decided to remove himself as to not exclude his friend Chris, he talked to both of the other boys and unfortunately he learned a lesson about the child who did the excluding, and that he is not really a friend. The other boy in the room and my son didn’t know about the exclusion until it was done, so this kid made it sound like it was a group decision when it was not.

    • Sigh. Gosh what a tough situation for your son. That stinks. 🙁 I think guiding him to make decisions is a great idea Michelle, thank you for sharing not only your thoughts but also your son’s story!

  • Angie says:

    It’s hard as parents to sit back and watch our kids(and grandkids in my case) feel left out. All you want to do is fix things for them. But sometimes that not what’s best. Let the kids resolve it themselves. Hopefully they will figure out something that works well for all involved.

  • Alex says:

    I agree with Stacy M. What a great parenting moment. Maybe both teams could learn from this. Steven could learn how much it hurts to be left out and Carter and the other boys could learn about grace and second/third/fourth chances?
    I agree with your friend that it is good to let kids work things out but sometimes a little nudge, a little planting of ideas and a little talk/ coordinating between parents behind the scenes can help children come up with solutions that leave us awed!!

  • Karyn lisk says:

    I agree with Stacy, It’s all a teachable moment! She could even ask the other Mom if Steven had a football league first and were these boys playing? Maybe Steven would confess, otherwise, I would not get involved though.

    This too shall pass. It doesn’t seem to bother the boy’s friendships outside of the football aspect, so let them work it out.

    It seems hard in the moment, but seriously these moments are gone before you know it!

    And as in the words of Dr. Phil, no matter how flat a pancake is, there is always 2 sides to a story. Mom’s should not have to figure out intentions of 3rd grade boys!

    Just keep encouraging all the kids Integrity…Doing the right thing even when no one is looking.

  • Olivine Eyes says:

    I got left out of groups when I was younger too and I turned out okay. Those boys should figure it out for themselves.

  • Marie Castine says:

    Seems that most of us have been through this as kids. I actually wish that my parents DID intervene a bit when I ran into this multiple times in elementary and high school.

    I would invite the kids and parents over for a get together. Then have the parents explain to their kids about situations where they were left out and how they felt. Then ask the boys who were left how before, how they felt. And ask the boy how he feels about being left out now. Just get them talking. Not telling them what to do at all but I think that if they all talk about how hurt they were then they can start to come together and be friends.

  • Judy Thomas says:

    I think it’s awful when children treat each other this way.It is sad and the children involved need to be spoken to as it will just get worse if you don’t do anything about it.

  • Kris says:

    I am so glad I don’t have kids (and I’m sure others will concur after this statement…whatever), because I’d have no patience for moms like Steven’s. As someone who has been a lifelong third-wheel, and as an adult have grown to embrace it, the moms need to stay out of it. Steven’s mom should listen to his concerns, empathize, build up his self-confidence, and BACK OFF. Unless she wants him living in her basement when he’s 32. 😕

  • Alisa says:

    So many have weighed in on this subject and I did not read each comment, so if I’m repeating someone else’s advice, I apologize ahead of time

    I think Carter is doing what Steven originally did to him. Left him out. No, it’s not right and the parents should not intervene, but a simple statement of “how did you feel when Steven left you out” just might make Carter think about his actions as well.

  • Terry Poage says:

    I think you have to let the boys figure it out themselves. I understand that they have hurt his feelings, but this isn’t something major that the parents need to be involved in. Who knows next week it might be a different story.

  • Linda Manns Linneman says:

    I would sit down and have a talk to him and encourage him. Let him know there are lessons to be learned in life and that people do let us down. I would encourage them to pray about this as a family. Maybe they can talk about it after praying. It is so tough raising our children up to be good adults. I will be praying for them

  • Donna K Peterson says:

    Having his Mom intervene will only make the situation worse for Steven. It would be unfair to expect Carter’s mom to tell her son who he should play with at school.

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