Buyer's Remorse: A MilFriendship Gone Bad

Just after we moved into housing, we met another family who has two children that are close in age to our children.  We hit it off fairly quickly.  They had only been here a few months, but knew enough about the area to take us to do some fun things.

In that desperate-for-friends-at-a-new-duty-station way, we did a lot together for a few weeks... and then the honeymoon was over.  My husband and I began to see behavior in the couple and in their children that made us uncomfortable.  We don't like they way that they speak to each other or to their children, and we've long since realized how hard it is to be friends with a couple whose parenting style is so different from our own.

So, we slowly backed off, and I think they got the message pretty quickly.  While we still see each other around, and are most definitely friendly when we do, we don't seek out each others' company.

The problem is that our seven-year-old son still wants to play with their kids.  He's realized that we fairly consistently don't allow him to play with them anymore, and has started to question why.

I'm not sure what to tell him.  The truth is that we don't want their behavior to rub off on him, which is something we've already observed happening when he spends several hours in their company.  We also don't want him in the line of fire when the couple starts bickering with each other or their kids.  I don't know how to explain that to him, or that he even needs to know.  I also don't want to tell him something and him to tell the boys and it get back to the parents.  I'd just rather avoid that particular little drama, thankyouverymuch.

Our son has other friends to play with. We've encouraged those friendships as best we know how, but he still wants to know why he can't play with those other children.

It's a tough dilemma. What would you say to your child in a situation like this?

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