I have always striven to make our home welcoming to our boys' friends. I want our kids' friends to want to hang out here, mostly so I can keep an eye on them, but also because watching my boys with their friends lends insight into their lives and character. And it reminds me that appearances can be deceiving.
We have one friend who has ADD. He's seen by many, including his teachers, as a wild child, and he definitely can be a handful, but when he spent time with us recently, he was polite to me and compassionate toward the younger kids, and really quite helpful. Sure he has some trouble with impulse control, but what young boy doesn't? As a matter of fact, I have trouble with impulse control--it's just that my impulses are less damaging to property. This boy is such a great kid, especially when he's getting positive attention from adults. And is positive attention from adults really too much to ask for? I don't think so.
We have another friend who is very smart. He participates in his school's gifted/talented program, and is perceived as being a good kid, but when he's visited with us, I have noticed that he is destructive and has a mean streak. And I have noticed that his friend, my son, gets mean when this friend is around, too.
Just as an aside, the last time this friend was visiting, I told my husband he was a bad influence, and Hubby asked why we continue to have him over. I guess it's because I know that he and our son will continue to hang out together at school, and while I have no control over what happens there, I hope that we can be a good influence on him while he's here. But I do think we need to have some more intensive talks with our son about why he likes this friend and what we've noticed about him and why that concerns us. And I thought parenting an infant was hard...I laugh at my much younger self, struggling with lack of napping or any of the dozens of other issues I've cried over through the years. Ha.
It all makes me think about how our children behave when they're visiting other people's houses. I hope that the parents of my kids' friends see them behaving in ways that are polite, compassionate, and helpful. I hope that the values we have attempted to embed shine through in our kids' character when they are away from us.