When my husband and I moved into our new house, I was thrilled to find out that the family living across the street had a 7-year-old, “Elizabeth,” the same age as our daughter, “Emily.” The parents were also wonderful in welcoming us to the neighborhood. I admit, I had fantasies of a repeat of my own childhood, where my best friend lived on the same block and our parents often socialized. Then Elizabeth’s parents invited us to their church and we turned them down, making it clear we weren’t interested. Suddenly, they became politely distant neighbors. I’ve looked into their church and found out it’s fiercely evangelical. Befriending people in order to recruit them to the church is even mentioned on the church website! I would be fine with the polite distance between us now, as I find their behavior toward us (i.e., their church’s methods to gain members) offensive and dishonest, except that Emily is still getting invitations to play with Elizabeth. I have no doubt that Elizabeth’s parents will proselytize to our daughter against our wishes. I have considered letting the girls play at our house only, under my supervision, but the church website also mentioned teaching children to “share” their beliefs. I feel terrible looking at a 7-year-old with suspicion, but I don’t want Emily exposed to this. I have no problem telling Elizabeth’s parents that I feel our values are not compatible and the girls can’t play anymore, but how do I explain to Emily that Elizabeth is not her friend?
—Don’t Want to Disappoint My Daughter