DEAR HARRIETTE: My kids and my neighbors' kids have just started playing with one another, and I am happy that they are friends. However, my neighbors have a different set of rule for their kids that I don't really agree with for my own. We live by the woods, and while they allow their kids to run out and play near them, I am not comfortable with that. I'd rather my kids play in the front yard.
Since my neighbors' children are a bit older, they usually take the lead in these play sessions and often try to convince mine to come with them near the wooded area. I don't want to break up this friendship, but my kids’ safety comes first. How can I resolve this situation? -- Out of the Woods
DEAR OUT OF THE WOODS: The fact that you live near the woods means that it is only a matter of time before your children venture out to explore there. If you want to control that experience, I recommend that you go on small hikes with them so that you personally get to see what is in your woods. You can let them know what to look out for and what to avoid. If you don’t really know, scout out someone in your community who can teach all of you.
You can still make the rule that your children have to play in the front yard and that they cannot go into the woods without your permission, but it’s unlikely that your rule will last for long. So prepare them. If there is a scouting group in your area, consider signing them up for that, too, so that they can learn how to safely explore the woods.