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Or rather WIBU to not walk this child home?

(102 Posts)
unlucky83 Mon 27-Oct-14 23:14:59

DP says I am and was a bit shocked...
Child is 8 and generally seems to be given free rein by family.
Keeps turning up uninvited/unannounced at our door to play with DD. When I ask what time she has to be home she says various things - like in 30 mins but then when the time is up says it doesn't really matter etc. In summer she once said 9pm!
She often turns up at dinner time (5.30ish) and I have fed her a couple of times -but don't want it to turn into a regular thing. I have started trying to send her home at dinner time if she turns up earlier. She has said her dinner time is 9pm but then once when I said she should go home for her dinner she said she was ok, had already eaten and played in DD's room whilst we ate dinner (I felt really mean and uncomfortable). I should say she is not underfed - if anything she is more 'well padded' than skinny.
I think in reality she hasn't been given a time she has to be home for. She lives 5-10 min walk away - and the most direct route is along quite a lonely, unlit, secluded path -which I know she uses. So I have started sending her home as it starts to get dark. Today she came earlier about 3.45pm. At about 5pm - I noticed it was getting dark (clocks going back!) - so I told her that I thought she should be going. She asked me what time it was and (surprise surprise) she said she had to be home at 5.30pm (30 mins later...). I said her gran probably hadn't realised how dark it would be- but she insisted it was fine. When she left it was really dark...
DP told me I should have walked her home - how would I feel if that was DD? (ignoring the fact that no way would I let slightly younger DD wander around like this). And how guilty would I feel if anything happened to her.
I do feel sorry for her - I do get the feeling her family don't want her around. (I haven't reported but know someone has voiced concern to the authorities - she was trick or treating on her own last Halloween - 7.30 at night, dark, going into stranger's houses - although this is quite a tight knit, 'safe' community)
I see his point but I think if I start taking her home her family will expect it and if she isn't with us (she drops in on others as well) they will be less likely to worry about her still being out.
And selfishly I will have no excuse to send her home. (I could be the adult and just tell her to go - but don't want her to feel more unwanted than she probably already does)
(This is playing on my conscience now ...)

QuintessentiallyGhoulish Mon 27-Oct-14 23:17:50

erm. She is not the boss. She does not get to decide what time she leaves your home, you do that.

smellyfishead Mon 27-Oct-14 23:19:23

you say her gran probably hadn't realised how dark it would be, does she live with her nan? if so might be a generational thing.
Personally I would of walked her home and would also be voicing any concerns I had to childrens services.

smellyfishead Mon 27-Oct-14 23:20:42

quint it seems precocious but maybe she doesn't really want to go home for whatever reason...

KingJoffreysBloodshotEye Mon 27-Oct-14 23:20:50

You need to insist, not her.

Or stop letting her in for a while. Break the cycle.

CurlyWurlyCake Mon 27-Oct-14 23:21:51

I can understand where you are coming from although I wouldn't have let her walk home alone in the dark. I would like to think I would have taken her home and explained to the adult why I needed to make sure she is safe.

I would feel very bad if something happened to her whilst walking home from my house.

You are doing a lovely thing by letting her shelter at your house.

unlucky83 Mon 27-Oct-14 23:27:03

I know I could just tell her to go - but like I said I don't want her to feel more unwanted than maybe she already does ...and in general she is quite well behaved and they play nicely together, it keeps DD entertained - I don't want to feed her every night and Dd has activities and homework to do but I don't really mind her coming to play occasionally!
She doesn't live with her gran, her gran watches her when her mum is working - but this happens when her mum is around too.

unlucky83 Mon 27-Oct-14 23:30:46

I'm not sure if she doesn't want to be at home or if they tell her to go out if I'm honest...
(She once said she wasn't allowed to go home until a certain time (1.5 hrs later) cos she had asked her mum for some money to go to the shop)

lemonpuffbiscuit Mon 27-Oct-14 23:31:13

Can you say that she needs to walk home in the light at 5 or if she wants to stay any later then she needs to prearrange for gran to collect her at 6?

kleinzeit Mon 27-Oct-14 23:31:21

You can use walking her home to your own benefit. Don’t ask when she has to be home, obviously no-one in her family cares. Just say “I will walk you home at 4.30” or whatever time suits you, and stick to it. You could tell her when she arrives or tell her half an hour before you want her to leave. If you are worried that her family will assume she is with you when she isn’t, then when you drop her off tell them that you will always bring her back at 4.30 if she is with you. But really if they don’t care you can’t make them care. And if she turns up too often then send her away straight away, tell her she can come round tomorrow (or whenever) instead. That’s not being unkind - nobody is setting boundaries for her, so it’s best if you do it, at least when she's with you.

lemonpuffbiscuit Mon 27-Oct-14 23:36:44

I think i would give her an exact time (dusk?) to leave purely based on safety. You can always say that you and DD really enjoy having her visit and want her to get home safley in day light.

TerryDolittle Mon 27-Oct-14 23:50:22

She's 8? sad

Philoslothy Mon 27-Oct-14 23:54:29

I would walk her home.

unlucky83 Tue 28-Oct-14 00:15:56

Yep she is only 8 - not even 8.5 yet...
I am going to start making her go when it is starting to get dark...(even if it is a generational thing - I was brought up in the 70s and we had to be home before it got dark!) I would hope she got a telling off tonight - but sadly I doubt it...
It is going to be getting dark earlier and earlier...and really really reluctant to start walking her home...if they think it is ok for her to be out and about and I do that it shows them I don't think what they are doing is right/safe (I think they are shit parents!) and I really don't want to get involved with that ...
She is precocious - but I really feel for her...sad

saintlyjimjams Tue 28-Oct-14 00:16:27

Gosh what a horrible situation - poor girl sad

I have no idea whether YABU or not. I think I would have had to walk part of the way (but wouldn't be easy for me as have disabled child that needs watching & leaving him would put him at risk).

I think be very strict about sending her off in daylight in future - it's about the best you can do for her really. sad

HowDidThatWorkOut Tue 28-Oct-14 00:42:38

Why don't you tell her to phone before she comes over.?

Are you sure your DD wants her to come over so much?

I would tell her to leave a while before dusk.

Viviennemary Tue 28-Oct-14 00:51:00

I'd get her home phone number and if it isn't convenient for you to walk her home then phone up and say could somebody please collect x as it is getting dark and you can't manage to walk her home yourself.

FayeFruitLoop Tue 28-Oct-14 01:17:13

I think I would be tempted to invite mum/granny over for a cuppa and make a big deal of how lovely their daughter is (rather patronisingly) but then say that as much as you love having her around, due to the nature of your job (Hinting that was a social worker/police officer/schoolteacher basically something involving safeguarding) would feel far more comfortable if they collected her before dark going forward. I'd probably behave aghast and overly shocked (just to freak them into giving an arse) if they admitted openly that she walks home alone currently in the dark

ravenAK Tue 28-Oct-14 01:39:35

I would be quite brisk, & agree with using the necessity for her to be walked home as a useful thing to keep visits to a timescale that suits you.

Just be absolutely confident & a bit breezy about it: 'Right 'Sarah', it's getting dark, we need to get you back home now, get your stuff'.

If she turns up uninvited at mealtimes: 'Sorry, it's our teatime - maybe tomorrow?' - then walk her home, or, better, get number & ring for someone to collect her. ('Hi, got your Sarah here, she needs picking up, it's too dark for her to walk home on her own & I'm busy getting tea...')

It'll take a while, but it'll take a damn sight longer if you don't set clear boundaries...& you will honestly be doing her a favour.

It's possible her parents will think you are rude/fussy, but nuts to that. They'll either start collecting her when you ask them to, or they'll discourage her from coming round to yours in the first place, if being rung to get her inconveniences them.

Nothing more you can do, really.

GraceFox Tue 28-Oct-14 07:02:00

Much as I feel sorry for the child, this isn't on!

Next time, take her home, and be very brisk with granny, insisting on getting her phone number so you are in charge of invitations to play, and you are in charge of pick up times. Tell her the child can't just turn up at the door.

If granny won't play ball and fail to collect on time, then you could consider stopping this 'arrangement'. To put it kindly, it's very slack of the family to turf out such a young child, expecting her to find a playmate, and to put it unkindly it's a real cheek expecting others like you yo do the childcare. Not to mention the intrusion into your own family life.

You sound very kind but I'd be putting boundaries and parameters on this.

Nanadookdookdook Tue 28-Oct-14 07:05:46

Get DH to walk her home grin

Candycharm Tue 28-Oct-14 07:10:55

It's a very tricky situation, but ultimately I think you shouldn't have let her walk home alone in the dark, imagine if something bad happened. I know you didn't invite her round but I just couldn't let a child that young do that.

I think you need to ensure she is not there after dark but if she is take her home and perhaps speak to the nan or mum and express your worries. It's riddiculous this child is just wondering around with no supervision and no boundaries on what time to be home, no wonder she likes coming to your house. It's quite sad.

Blu Tue 28-Oct-14 07:14:18

I think adults have a duty of care for 8 year old children who are in their house and that extends to the next adult handover. So either you say 'child, unless your gran comes to collect you, or unless your gran calls me to tell me what time she would like you home, you need to walk home at 5pm' or whatever.

I would actually walk her home on one occasion, at my convenience, and have a chat about it. Ask what time she generally has her tea, say it's great to have her to play once a week but you want the gran to know that you can only have her on whatever day so that she knows her DGD isn't with you if she is out in other days, etc... Let the gran know. And get a phone number.

I have never had young kids in my house when I didn't know how to contact the parents, I don't think .

Eva50 Tue 28-Oct-14 07:18:14

We have a little boy, also 8, who appears to have free reign to wander about and who often calls to play with ds3. We have our evening meal at 6pm and I throw him out ask him to go then. He sometimes comes back later but I rarely let him back in. I would not dream of walking him home. I am cooking the meal and then we are ready to eat. If I am out later with one of the boys I often see him wandering about playing elsewhere.

If you are really concerned then you should speak to social services or you could suggest your dh walks her home.

StarlingMurmuration Tue 28-Oct-14 07:23:56

Maybe I'm being overly cautious here, but I would NOT let DH walk her home as suggested above. If she later does go missing, the police would want to take a good hard look at him if he regularly walks her home.

It's a difficult situation... It's not just about how to get her out of your house, it's the fact that she's clearly not well-cared about at home. I would be probably walk her home next time and have a word with her mum or gran, and depending on their reaction, start thinking of raising your concerns with social services.

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