Advice about Play Dates
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Advice about Play Dates
Hello -- I'd appreciate some advice on how to talk to your
daughter about a popular girl in her class not really being
interested in play dates with her. She gets bummed out because
she has asked this girl over a few times, and there's always some
excuse and no follow-up. Nothing like ''maybe not today but let's
plan another day.'' Yet, this girl is very popular and has
regular play dates with a few of the other girls in the school.
So there's obviously a lack of interest on her part, even though
they play together in the same general group at school. Of course
it breaks my heart to see my daughter feel rejected, but I
realize there may just be more of this coming in middle school.
And, the other girl's mother hasn't done anything to be
responsive to the play date idea either. Any ideas on how to
make it seem 'not so important' if this girl doesn't want to come
over? How to move beyond it?
It's very easy to live vicariously through our kids-to think
back to when WE were excluded. But resist. Popularity is not the
end-all, be-all, in fact, I can recall that the so-
called ''popular'' kids were often not the nicest kids-in fact,
they were usually ones who excluded some others in order to
build themselves up. It's pretty clear that the girl does not
want to be your daughter's pal (at least not at the moment-
friendships change on a dime in grade school), so just let it
drop, and explain to your daughter, if necessary, that so-and-so
just doesn't seem to be interested in being friends right
now, ''but that's ok...how would you like to have X over?'' It
will not break your daughter's heart forever. As long as she has
a couple of kids who she likes who like her, and can generally
get along ok with other kids and is kind and considerate, great.
That's all she needs-she will meet kids along the way to be
friends with, whether or not they are the ''popular'' kids. It
sounds like you're making a bigger deal about this than she is,
and kids don't need to pick up on those messages.
Tough being a girl...
This is a tough one. It has happened to my daughter before. I
asked her why it was so important to have a playdate with a
particular child. Usually it boils down to the fact that lots of
other kids do, which I then point out is a terrible reason to
want to hang around with someone. I have also told her that it
sometimes happens that you feel a connection with someone who
doesn't feel it as strongly as you do. It doesn't mean they don't
like you or are trying to hurt you, it is just a ''vibe'' thing.
Lastly, I tell her it is a dangerous pattern to always be
pursuing people who don't share your feelings. Then, I hook her
up with kids I know she likes and who like her in return. I try
to keep her busy with fun things at home, other playdates, and
her activities (piano, soccer, etc.) so she eventually forgets
about the other girl. Maybe in the future they'll click, but
maybe not. The most important thing is that she not feel like a
victim. It is just one of those things she'll have to deal with
from time to time: sometimes we like people more than they us.
Don't paint it with the popular vs. unpopular girl thing. I think
that is dangerous.
You didn't say how old your daughter is, but when you say
this other little girl is "popular", could that be
your adult perception? Wouldn't your daughter be just
as happy to have some other child over to play? Is there
some reason why this particular girl needs to come over?
You should arrange to invite other kids over
instead, and downplay the girl who doesn't want to come.
I think it is a good idea to allow even young children to
have a say about whether they want to go over to someone
else's house. If the other little girl doesn't want to come over for a
playdate, I think that should be OK. (Imagine if somebody made you go
to someone else's house to socialize and you didn't want to!)
A mother of a my Kindergartener's classmate has suggested a
playdate over at their home. Is it unreasonable/unusual for
me, who have met the mother and her daughter for only one
afternoon at a public place, to not be comfortable leaving my
child at their home? Any suggestions for going around this
without compromising my child's need to build friendships or
offending the other parent?
Hi - it is not overprotective/overcautious to think carefully
about where your child is spending a playdate - it's normal.
Suggest to the mother that you all spend a little more time
doing park playdates, or suggest that you hang out together at
their house or yours for the first ''at home'' playdates.
Take your time with playdates - it is ok to say 'no' until you
are 100% comfortable with the situation.
My daughter is in 1st grade and I don't allow un-chaperoned
play dates when I don't know the parents very well and have
never been to their home. She has had invites to go on a play
date with new friends and if the parent doesn't invite me
along, I suggest that the friend comes to our home and I invite
the parent along. I suggest that we get to know each other
better and that way we can do these things more often. They are
way too young to be left in a situation where they couldn't
Come to think of it; my cousin's 14 yr old daughter can't go to
someone's home either when her mom doesn't know anything about
the family. My cousin finds out if there are older brothers who
live in the household and has called the parents on occasion to
get more information.
Never be too cautious about this!
Are you talking about me? :-) Yes, I am that Mom who suggests
playdates assuming that other Moms, who I have met briefly, would
be perfectly fine sending their child to my home to play with my
child who has requested their presence. I am CPR and first aid
certified. I have gone through a background check for work, but
my suitability to work with children is considered when the check
is performed. The snacks that I offer are usually healthy (fruit
or carrots, though Pirates booty rears its ugly head when it is
found in the cupboard). The kids will usually play, but if the
playdate lasts more than four hours and it covers the time frame
from 1 to 5, I do require a half hour of ''Mr. Rogers'' just so
that the kids can have some complete mind wasting down time (and
quite frankly I like Mr. Rogers and will watch the DVD with them).
But, do I need to tell you all of that? I am another Mom doing
her best to raise good kids. My house is safe. BUT, if you
don't get good vibes off of the kid-kid relationship, then it is
perfectly okay to say, um no...if you don't like the Mom, then
ditto. But, if both seem okay, then arrange for a date where you
can drop off your child and sit for a bit to chat. If you aren't
comfortable, then stay the entire time. If things seem
comfortable them go on your merry...
During the past few months, my 5 year old son has asked to have playdates with a
few friends from school/soccer etc. When I have spoken to these Moms to invite
these children to come over to play, they either a) do not call me back or b) give me
a noncommital response and then never get back to me. My child has other friends
so I'm trying not to take this personally, but it's starting to make me feel bad when
he keeps asking why so and so isn't coming over and I really can't give him an
answer. I don't want this to effect his self-esteem.
Has anyone else experienced this? Or is it just my child? I keep wondering if he's
doing something to turn these kids off or if he has the impression that he's friends
with these kids, but they're really just not that into him? He can be quite active and
is somewhat impulsive, but overall he's a sweet kid. His teacher says that he's
friends with everyone in the class and is well-liked so I'm just trying to figure out
what's going on. At what age do kids stop having playdates? Anything else I can do
for him on the social front?
- a concerned mom
How well do you know the moms of these kids-at all? Could it be
that since they don't know you/your family, they feel
uncomfortable sending their kid to your house? My daughter is 5
and we've recently moved to the area; we've met some families at
the bus stop and in other ways...and arranged playdates from
there. My daughter wanted to invite one girl over, however, and
the mom kept brushing us off until we'd been chatting at the bus
for a month. She's quiet and I think she just had to feel
comfortable with me before it was ok for her daughter to come to
our house. If your son is well-liked and sociable, the brush-
offs don't really make sense otherwise. Do you live in a
neighborhood where kids can just casually play at each other's
houses? I hate this ''playdate'' stuff...
-don't wanna be my daughter's social secretary
i have a 5 year old boy also. We haven't done many playdates at
all since kindergarten started this year-- partly because he
gets pretty tired between school, the afterschool program,
soccer, etc. And we like to reserve weekends for family outings
and the occasional birthday party (and also to see old
preschool friends-- whom we both miss)
Also, i get the feeling my son at least is still kind of
getting to know all the new kids around him, so he hasn't
specifically asked me to arrange any playdates. however i know
he does really like most of the kids he plays with, and would
readily go for a playdate if suggested. in fact, there is one
kid in his class who enthusiastically asked me if my son could
come over, but since i've yet to meet his mom, i didn't follow
up. (my son would have been happy to go, but didn't press me--
i think bcs his plate is already full).
Also, I think i just don't feel as motivated to arrange
playdates at this age as i did earlier, as my son gets a lot of
social time already, and i am both busy and lazy... On the
other hand, if another mom called me specifically to propose a
playdate with a specific date and time, I would probably be
happy to agree. in any case, I think your son's teacher is in a
good position to know what's going on, and i would find her
I've been there too. I've got an 8 yr old and a 6 yr old, and
have realized that there are lots of different styles of
playdates and it's really the parent that dictates, not the child.
Personally, I have a hard time scheduling them too far in
advance, don't like them on weekdays, and don't like them for too
long (2 hours max, and have been shocked when some parents go up
to 4 hours with my kids). And, since we have a small house and
some kids energy levels are just too high, I don't always like
them in my house. Consequently, we don't have them very often.
Ideally, I will call up one of three families we've become close
with and arrange to meet that day at the park or school
playground, with a clear understanding that I will leave at a
certain time - but if the other parent is happy to ''take a second
shift'', then we'll do that.
Keep trying. Be very specific about a day and time. An offer of
''Later today, from 2 to 4, at the park - I'll bring snacks'' or
''On Saturday, right after the game, how bout if Johnny comes over
to our house? Junior has been dying to show him his action
figures. You can pick him up later'' is more concrete than ''Hey,
how bout a playdate soon?''. Hopefully people will be more
responsive to that. If they keep blowing you off, then they're
simply rude parents and may not necessarily be the type of people
you want looking after your kid if a reciprocal playdate is offered.
Mom of Two
Gulp--I'm one of those parents who has sometimes avoided invitations for
playdates. But here's why: My husband and I both work, and our child is usually in
an after care program or at various lessons and classes outside of school. These
activities fulfill most of my daughter's social needs. When I get to her in the late
afternoon I've been missing her horribly, and we all just really want some time
together and at home. Same goes often for weekends. It's not at all that we don't
like the other children and parents who approach us; we often just don't have a
schedule that matches theirs. If this is the case with families you are asking, you
might offer to pick up their child with yours after school and have the play date at
your house. We've done this a couple of times, although then there's a perceived
obligation to reciprocate. Maybe you could offer that you don't expect this. At any
rate, I think you're safe explaining to your child that this all has probably nothing to
do with him but with other children's families and schedules.
Busy working mom
I am curious to hear other's responses on this. I am sorry I don't have any advice
except that from my experience you as the parent need to be embarassingly
aggressive to make the playdates. At least for me, it is really uncomfortable how
much I need to take the lead in planning playdates, or else they just won't happen!
I have a 6 yr old that is amazingly social and he wishes to have company to play
with, have meals with, hang out with all the time. He is a great kid, very happy,
friendly, compassionate, and creative. It is really hard because the school he
attends is full of commuters that don't live in the neighborhood. Everything has to
be scheduled and planned. I feel like a pest because I'm always asking other parents
for playdates on behalf of our child. The playdated always go well. My son actually
cries with great sadness after playdates are over. There is nothing I can do but try
to plan plan plan plan plan and plan. It is exhausting and feels so fake. I wish we
lived in the neighborhood that someone recently wrote in about where the
neighborhodd kids actually play together, mixed ages, unsupervised, and make
their own fun wandering around the 'hood with each other, the way it really should
be. I would really appreciate other's input on this too.
I am probably one of those parents who seem non-committal to you
about a playdate. Here is why: 1) I need to check in with my
daughter, before we arrange a playdate. I want to know if she
wants the playdate, how the kids play together (because I feel I
will be responsible for reciprocation).
2) Is my kid too busy? - as it is my daughter has something
going on 4 days a week after school, language school on Saturday
and Soccer on Sunday (for 10 weeks a year) - she loves these
activities and depending on soccer season, time is at a premium.
3) Our daughter plays in the neighborhood, with neighborhood
kids in free play and when this is mentioned to other parents,
that the kids play outside in the front yard, without an adult
outside with them, it makes A LOT of parents uncomfortable.
4) My daughter sometimes feels overwhelmed entertaining someone
for 2 hours at a time.
5) My daughter wants to play with kids who play with her
independently without adult intervention. My daughter expects
that other kids can adapt to the rules at her house as she
adapts at their house, if the kids have a great deal of trouble
adapting to situations, she's less likely to want playdates.
6) My daughter will have kids over to play or go to kids houses
to play if the kid she is playing with has a ''clean up time'' at
the end of the playdate that is kid initiated. She does not want
to be left with a mess, nor does she leave a mess.
Needless to say, my daughter has a very limited number of
playdates. She is invited to them all of the time - usually 3 -
4 per week, many more than she can handle. Parents love having
her over as do children. I know that the 5 to 7 friends that she
plays with regularly have the same philosophies about playdates
as our family
Ask yourself and your son, if these are the types of playdates
he wants to have, if not, your son should be able to understand
that kids play differently and that expectations are different
at different homes. If he is not having a playdate it could be
because of time constraints or expectations rather than ''I don't
want to spend time with you.''
By the way my daughter is 7 and has had these behaviors for at
least 4 years.
Daughter is responsible for Playdates
I don't really avoid playdates, but I don't seek them out either.
Here is my situation:
I have 2 daughters -- almost 3 & almost 5. They play together
well. The elder is great at involving the younger in the drama
of her imagination. While they play, I cook, clean, and dispense
BPN advice. Sometimes an entire morning will slip away with only
minor intervention from me (popping open lids on the playdough,
tending a scraped elbow from stair surfing, or breaking up an
Playdates are usually geared toward the older. 3 girls rarely
works. There are some kids who blend well with my daughters'
dynamic or are good at moving between the 2, but usually I find
myself consoling the younger because the older and her friend are
excluding her or being mean to her. I am good at carving out
'alone time' with each of my girls (not all of their preschool
hours overlap...the older stays up later than the younger...the
younger gets up much earlier than the older). I don't need
playdates to ruin my nice dynamic.
Or, I am DONE trying to convince our guest that house rules are
meant to be followed. I am appalled at the # of children who
flat out ignore me when I say things like, ''can you please stay
off my counters (as I found one trying to reach my crystal on the
highest shelf), things meant for you are accessible to you
standing on the floor. I found this child on my counters 3 times
during the date, even though I heard my daughter explaining the
house rules to her as well (My mom puts things for us in all of
the lower cabinets. Nothing we need is in the upper cabinets.)
Another child dumped out every toy bin and didn't help with the
clean-up. My children aren't the neatest during the play time,
but we always clean up together at the end of play. When it came
time for clean-up, the guest told me it was my job. Huh? I would
say that half of the kids that come over are, well, not going to
come over again.
There is a pretty set group of kids with whom we play. I swap
kids often with another stay-at-home-mom who has girls the same
age. The four are wonderful (as wonderful as two 2 3/4-year-olds
and two 4 3/4-year-olds can be) together. There are a couple of
singles that also come over often that are enjoyed by both of my
daughters and me.
That said...the best way to approach me is suggest neutral
territory -- do you want to meet at the playground on Saturday?
Go to the kids museum on Monday evening? Before your kid comes
over, I want to see how our kids play together. If they don't get
on in a neutral location, then chances are pretty good that they
aren't going to get on at your house or mine.
-not avoiding you, but happy with my life
Hi everyone. I was wondering if anyone has some advice for
me. My son is almost four and I would like to set up a
playdate with another child from his school. However, I don't
have enough room in my place to do that at home. I feel
uncomfortable telling the other parent that I'm 'inviting' her
son to play with my son at the park. How could I organize a
first playdate outside my place? I never met the kid's parents
so I don't know the proper etiquette in this case or if that
would be weird. Please, help! My son would love to play with
this child outside school.
Asking another child for a playdate at a park is totally normal. In fact, I think most
people opt for the park option. Its kind of hard for little ones to have other kids over
to play with their toys, so its good to try it out at a park first.
You could call the parents and say that your son would really love to have a playdate
with their child. Ask if you could meet at the park sometime. Or if everyone feels
comfortable, another option is to offer to pick up the other child and take him to the
park with you and then drop him at home (most parents would want to meet you
first obviously) but that becomes a really incentive to do playdates.
Just go for it and don't worry.
How about, ''We're going to the park at 3:00 tomorrow. Billy
would love it if you can join us''.
I think it's perfectly reasonable to arrange playdates at parks.
We do it all the time.
You don't have to apologize, or go into detail, but can just say:
''My son is dying to have a playdate with your child. Now, since
our home is on the small side, I think the kids would have a lot
more fun at a park, especially now that the weather is getting
better! I'll bring drinks and snacks. This day and time works
best for us - what about you?''
And since neither of you know each other, I'm sure they'll want
to hang out and chat and get to know you rather than just
dropping off their child with a ''stranger''.
''hey, we're going to ____ park tomorrow afternoon, want to meet
us there so the kids can play?''
I think it's perfectly acceptable to ask the parents if their
son and your son could play together at a local park. I did
that with one parent at my daughter's daycare -- I just said,
maybe we can go to the park sometime. And now our children are
the best of friends and as a bonus, the parents really hit it
off as well. Go for it. I think it's actually more acceptable
to ask to play in the park until you really get to know the
family. I personally wouldn't like my daughter to have a
playdate at a house that I was unfamiliar with.
Saying to the child's parents ''Hey, would you like to meet at the park sometime so our
kids could have a playdate?'' or even, if you're really brave ''Would you like to drop your
child off at the park with me and my child sometime?'' would not be at all weird.
Several of the ''first playdates'' my child had were like this, and they often work out
better than those at someone's home, because there's less fighting over ''special'' toys
that way. I say, go ahead and offer.
Yeah, just call 'em up & say just that! Some parents are
reluctant to fill up their time off with obligations. Most are
taking their kids to the park anyway and would love to meet you
there or drop their kid with you at the park & do the shopping
solo and return the favor with you next week.
I know, it is hard to pick up the phone but just do it and it
will be done. The other parent will be gratefull to you for
making the effort.
Richer for reaching out.
Is there any way to tell a friend that an invitation to the
pool, playground, my home, etc is for her and her children
rather than for her nanny and her children? For instance, this
evening, I called a friend to invite her and her children to
join me and a few other friends and children for lunch and a
swim at my private club later this week. She told me that she
was busy, but that she would go ahead and send her nanny with
the children. I specifically called her and chose a day that I
knew that she had off from work. I felt that as I extended the
invitation to my friend, that she should have declined it
rather than accepted it on behalf of the babysitter. This also
happens frequently with another friend.
All of our children are under four. Basically, the children
are friends because we are friends, not the other way around.
Their nannies are nice, but I have nothing in common with them
AND I see enough of them randomly at the playgrounds. Is their
any polite way to tell these women that if I wanted to spend
time with their nannies, I would just ring up the nannies and
invite them out?
-not having fun with the nanny
I would be annoyed too. You could handle it by being upfront, or you
could establish ''nanny playdates'' - assuming several of you have
nannies. You could mention on the invite that ''the moms are getting
together on xx date'' oh, and by the way, since nannies like to get out
too - let yours know that they can all meet up at the park with the kids
Maybe they'll take the hint.
I think it is rude of your friend to assume her nanny can take her place
at your club per your invitation to her, not her nanny. That being
said, some people just don't get it and maybe she needs a clue. If you
are good friends, I would be open and honest. If you are friends by
association or something like that, this might work: Are you in charge
of the kids on X Day? Oh good, because, I'm inviting us moms (or
friends) to come over and be together and to do X. Or oh, your nanny
is? Too bad, because I'm inviting us friends to be together... maybe
you can make a change of plans and come because we'd love to have you...
etc. Good luck!
Seems like you believe there is something rude about the mom's who send
their kids with nannies. I guess I don't see that. To me, it seems
reasonable as a mom (who has been invited with my son for a play date
with other kids) that if I have a conflict that I would choose to send
my son with his nanny rather than deprive my son of the experience of
the playdate with the other kids. And that I would probably assume that
the invitation was open enough that this was OK. In a sense, it would
be a sign that I value the relationship that my son has built with these
other children a lot (which is a compliment).
So in my opinion mom sending nanny isn't rude. But it does appear that
there is a miscommunication -- mom thinks that kids are welcome even if
she is not there, you are extending an invitation in which kids are not
welcome unless mom is there.
You can surely communicate that in a positive way ''Hey, I really would
love to see you, I always feel disappointed when you cannot come
yourself.'' I know that if someone said that to me I would definitely
take the cue. But that said, it is actually difficult for me to imagine
saying directly to any of my friends ''do you want to come for a play
date with Junior? Hey, but just so you know, if you cannot come in
person he is not
welcome with his nanny.'' You know it strikes me that ''play
date'' signifies to me that the children are the center of
attention/reason for getting together. Maybe you could not call the get
together a ''play date'', but call it a ''mommy date''? ''We are having
a mommy date, because I really want to reconnect with our mommy
friends.'' Definitely sends the message that the primary invitee is the
mom. If someone invited me on a mommy date, there is no way I would
send my son with my nanny!
Ask for what you want, and you will likely get it!
How about politely saying, ''I arrange playdates for our children so
that I can hang out with you. If I wanted to spend time with your
nanny, I would just ring her up and invite her out.''
How about your be as honest with your friends as you are with us:
Just tell them that you miss seeing them when they send their nannies
in their place. You can say you really like seeing your kids develop a
friendship, but that you want to keep your own friendships growing. I'd
be so darn flattered if someone told me that! I bet your friends will
I think what you said in the advise wanted column is just fine to say to
You could say it's great seeing the kids, but you miss her and was
hoping she'd come.
Just be honest. Do you feel uncomfortable having the nanny there? Tell
her that, too.
Maybe make it clear that it is an outing for friends, not just for the
kids. It is always interesting when we are forced to speak our
truth...go for it!
I think you should be honest about your feelings. Honesty is usually the
best and most clear way to get the message across, especially since
these women are your personal friends!
Something like ''I don't mean to be insensitive, but I'd really like
your company at these playdates. You're my friend and I enjoy spending
time with you and your kids!'' You should also explain that you chose
the day specifically because you knew she wasn't working that day. She
may not know that you really value her presence and that it's not just
about the kids. This could be a good opportunity to bring you guys
That said, as a FT working mom, I find it really hard to arrange weekday
playdates for my 13-month-old because many moms in my area don't work. I
would LOVE for my nanny to take my son to other moms' houses for
playdates. So I don't think it's a bad thing at all to have someone's
nanny attend instead of the mom -- the mom should just communicate that
to you in advance and set your expectations.
As a nanny who has been sent to parties and gatherings with children not
my own, I know that it is even more uncomfortable for the nanny than for
you. Have you thought of enlisting her help in getting your message
across to the mom?
You may just have to include a brief message in your verbal or written
invitation that states simply, ''we'd love to see you, but sitters and
nannies will feel out of place at this particular event''. If the mom
sends the nanny and children anyway (how dim or self-centered would she
have to be do to
that?) perhaps the next invitation to her will go ''missing'' in the
Is it really too difficult to say ''oh, but I wanted to catch up with
YOU'' in any tone you feel is appropriate?
If it is, how bout starting by saying ''This is kind of awkward for me,
but it's not that I don't like your nanny, but, well, YOU'RE who I
really want to see''
Find out why she thinks it's okay for her to send her nanny; the nanny
might feel just as awkward.
I don't think you have to be mean, defensive, snide or rude. Just talk
before resentment builds up, before you stop inviting her.
Not Dear Abby
Perhaps you should only invite your friend over. That way, it is clear
that the point of the visit is to see her. It would then be strange for
her to invite her child and nanny over in her stead. Something along the
lines of ''I'm having a brunch/get-together for us girlfriends and was
wondering if you would like to come.'' Then, if she's available, you
her know that her child is welcome as well.
Well, that's easy. When your friend says she's busy send the nanny tell
her ''Oh, no, that's OK, tell me when you are available and we'll
reschedule. I was really looking forward to hanging out with you''.
My son has been getting asked on many playdates in which the
Dad is in charge, it seems to be a growing trend in our
neighborhood and oddly, almost all of my kids' friends this
year, have this situation. I've always been on the extra
cautious side, I don't want to offend them, but frankly I don't
leave my kids with even the men I know extremely well. So, I
almost always end up hosting the playdates that their family
suggests. Then, they want to reciprocate, and with many of
them it's always with the man in charge because the mom is
working. So my kid doesn't get to go to friends' houses nearly
as often as they come here, so he longs to have playdates at
First Question: Any suggestions for insisting on the Mom being
in charge without offending anyone?
Also-- to you Moms out there who put us other moms in this
situation, why do you do this? Don't you read the same news
that we do, although it's unlikely for either to be abusive,
women are much less likely, so even if your man is probably
good, why do you put us in such a position when we don't know
him as well as you do? Can't you put us in a more comfortable
position? How about on a day when you ARE home? I'd love to
hear from you too-busy-to-have-a-playdate-moms too!
- Cautious Mom
''First Question: Any suggestions for insisting on the Mom being in
charge without offending anyone?''
No, I can think of no inoffensive way to say ''I believe that your
husband may be a pedophile.''
''Also-- to you Moms out there who put us other moms in this situation,
why do you do this?''
Well, first, it's not *me* who ''does this,'' it's my family.
And we do it because we are both the parents. My husband enjoys spending
time with his children, and doesn't do it only because I am ''too
busy.'' How lucky your son's friends are to have dads who are involved
in their lives.
Seriously, have you considered counseling for this issue? I wonder if
there is something in your history that makes this such a hot button for
This is an answer to your second question, about why moms let the dads
of their kids organize playdates. In my case, because it simply has
never occurred to me that anyone might worry that my husband would abuse
their child, just as it has never occurred to me to worry that the
father of a friend of my child's would abuse my own daughter. I suppose
that when you let your child go to another child's house without your
supervision you are always taking a risk that something bad might happen
-- whoever's at home might let the kid play with matches, they might get
bitten by the other family's dog, someone might break in and kidnap them
-- anything's possible.
But playdates work on the assumption that you trust the other parents to
be reasonably responsible, and that includes assuming that neither
parent is going to abuse your child. I must say I was a bit dismayed by
your post -- I think it's great to hear that dads are playing a more
active role helping to organize their kids social lives, and it really
undermines that if they are stigmatized as potential abusers. (BTW I do
read the news, and I can't remember ever hearing of a dad
abusing the friend of a child who came over on a playdate...)
I'm sure the many men who take care of children during the day will be
offended by your implication that they can't be trusted. (And I'm sure
the moms you blame for putting you in this position will be equally
angry, since most of them are just trying to support their families by
working.) I would suggest that you get to know these men whom you find
so potentially dangerous, and use your own judgment as to whether they
seem trustworthy. Chances are, they're completely decent and
responsible people. I'm the mother of a toddler, and my husband cares
for her while I'm at work. He routinely gets together with moms at the
park and for playdates, and has developed nice friendships with them, as
well as with some other dads. Ideally, you should consider these
fathers to be potential friends rather than potential abusers.
I know MANY moms who work outside of the home all week because they have
greater earning potential than their husbands. I also know that when
you work all week, you are then forced to cram all of the necessary
errands into the weekends - in my home at least, these are the errands
which require both partners (those which can be done solo are done
during the week or in the evenings). So, you're suggesting that these
families leave their important things undone so that the mom can host
the playdate? What about in those families where the father is by
nature more of the nurturer, more patient, better able to interact with
children? You would place your child in what could be more unpleasant
situation with a less-well suited mom host just because she's ''the
mom''? Let me tell you, far more often than you apparently want to
believe, the dad is the better caregiver - statistics be damned - I'm
talking about real people in real families. What about when your child
goes to school - are you going to keep them out of classes with male
teachers? I am always thrilled about playdates hosted by Dads - I want
my child to grow up seeing that men (aside from his father) are
nurturing and fun. And honestly - with dads, you see less baggage, more
honesty and less passing judgment on other kids and other parents - all
things that the world definitely needs more of.
I'm a huge fan of dad-supervised playdates. The dad across the street
from me takes my son and his son on skateboard/bike playdates, and I
think it is awesome. If the mom is then able to take a nap or get a
pedicure, I'm thrilled - that's one for the sisterhood, in my book. More
likely, she is, like me, doing laundry, making dinner, running errands,
and paying bills.
Know this: when I (the mom) supervise a playdate, I try to get my own
stuff done -- I do laundry, make dinner and pay bills. My husband, on
the other hand, will take them them to the park to play basketball. I'm
probably a little bit better at making snacks than he is, but otherwise,
in our marriage, the dad is the superior playdate person.
One other thing to think about -- with any luck, your precious son will
grow up to be a dad himself, and HE will be supervising some playdates
(unless playdates have been entirely replaced by electronic devices at
that point). I sure hope no one thinks about your son the way you think
about his friends' fathers!
Oh dear! This is, I am afraid, basically ''gender profiling,'' with all
the same problems as ''racial profiling'' - it's morally suspect and
usually ineffective at preventing whatever problem you are worried
about. I'm not saying you are specifically intending this, but it is
essentially what is happening.
Yes, statistically more abusers are men. And frequently they are family
Would you refuse to leave your child with his or her own father or
grandfather just on this principle, without any particular reason to be
concerned? I would never leave my children with any adult, male or
female, who I didn't already know and didn't believe I could trust. I
vet each situation individually, without assuming that one half of the
population can never be trusted and the other half can always be
trusted. I can't imagine anyone who knows the research literature on
abuse thinks that the implications are never leave your child alone with
an adult male and I'm sorry that you are having such stress and anxiety
I know it's hard for anyone, especially parents, to deal with a
potential risk of something horrible happening to their child, you have
to decide what's a reasonable way to take precautions against a very
small risk of something very serious. One approach is to have your
children wear a mask every time they leave the house, and avoid direct
contact with any other human being, to make sure they don't catch the
flu. Another is to vaccinate them, wash hands regularly and avoid the
most risky situations, like visiting friends with sick kids. The former
approach is perhaps ''safer'' in some sense, but not a way you can
really live your life.
As for us Moms who you feel are putting you in this impossible
situation, we're Moms just like you who love our kids and who are
incredibly grateful to have male partners deeply involved in our
childrens' lives. In my view, the more Dads host playdates, the closer
we get to the kind of society where we have to worry less about
gender-based violence and abuse. I worry you may be sending an implicit
message to your children that all adult men can't be trusted.
If there's a personal reason you are so worried about this, either
something that has already happened to you or your kids, I hope you know
about resources to help.
Mom or Dad equally good in my book
Perhaps dad playdates are a growing trend because dads are becoming more
and more involved with their children, which is clearly only a good
Of course we all read the news and know that a higher percentage of
molestors/kiddie porn purveyors, etc. are men but it seems that the best
way to protect your child against all sorts of bad conduct is to get to
know people, men or women, before allowing your child to have a playdate
without you or your husband being present. Personally, I wouldn't feel
any more comfortable with having my 4-year old be in the care of a mom I
don't know as a dad I don't know. As for why I'm not always involved
when we have another child over or out for a playdate, that's because my
husband is just as capable as I am of handling the kids and it's an
opportunity for some solo time. Not to mention the fact that no one has
ever even asked if it will be me or my husband watching the kids. Maybe
that's because they know both of us well.
If you simply can't leave your children with a man (your note says that
you won't leave them with men you know extremely well), how about having
your husband have some dual dad playdates with the kids while you do
Finally, it seems like a good thing to let kids see that men can be the
caretakers and that they can have fun and be safe and
well taken care of without moms being around at all times.
Wow, how awful for those poor children that their fathers actually be
involved! This is the kind of thinking that has my own wonderful,
non-abusive husband dreading parent interaction next school year when he
becomes a stay at home dad. I say, there is absolutely no way not to
offend anyone by asking that the mothers be there.
Statistically, are more men child abusers? Maybe. But Statistically,
more women go insane and drown their own children in the bathtub...
Yeah, I know it's pretty harsh, but your post deserves it. If you don't
know the entire family, get to know them.
Otherwise, if you won't make the effort, stay home with your kid and
Proud to love my SAHD
I'm sure you're going to hear this a lot, but the problem isn't the
other kids' moms and dads. Your fears are simply not reasonable, unless
you are associating with unusually violent families. I am a mom who
husband often supervises playdates.
Usually, this is because I'm doing something with the other kid
(although there was the time when I was visiting my mother in the
hospital. . .). Since my son adores his daddy, he's perfectly happy to
have him be in charge and, as it happens, Daddy is as good at
supervising playdates as I am. Lastly, I'm afraid that there is no way
that you could tell me that you don't trust my husband with your child
that wouldn't offend me.
I suspect that if your son's friends' parents get the idea that you
don't trust the Dads, it will be the end of playdate invitations for
your boy, which would be very sad. So relax and trust a little.
Wife of a Good Dad (they mostly are)
1. I'm a SAHD with two girls. I am extremely sensitive to the concerns
and fears other parents, moms and DADS, have about letting thier kids
play at my house. I always discuss the fear and offer to have the
playdate at a park or other public place, or I ask the other parent(s)
to come to my house. You shouldn't leave the kids with men you don't
know well, or those you do. If a mom said to me, ''I'm sorry, but I
won't let my kids stay with a man alone,'' I would totally understand.
2. The spouses of SAHDs don't ''do this to you.'' If you're in a
situation that makes you uncomfortable, you must take responsibility for
it and fix it yourself. Don't blame the moms. And working moms may not
have the time or inclination to host playdates during their limited time
off. But surely we'll hear from some moms.
Oh my. I'm sure you'll get lots of responses to this one, including
from some justifiably hurt dads. Sure, there are some men out there who
could do your child harm, but the great majority of men care deeply
about the safety of children. My suggestion to you: get to know those
dads so that you can feel more comfortable about leaving your child with
them. Suggest some playdates that involve both you and a dad or two.
My guess is that once you get to know them you'll feel more comfortable
with them. If you don't, at that point you are justified in your worry,
but it's unfair to reject all men for the faults of a few. After all,
we can't ask men to share the childrearing responsibilities and then not
trust them to do it.
OMG, as they say. Am I to understand that a child should not have a
friend over because his or her dad is watching him or her at the time?
You must be setting up play dates with virtual strangers if you really
are worried about the dad molesting your child, yet it seems you would
have no problem leaving your kid with a strange mom.
I'd say get to know your kid's parents, mothers and fathers.
Cannot frigging believe this one.
I have to say that I think this is really sexist and unfair to fathers.
No, I'm sorry, there is no way to insist that a mom run a playdate
instead of a dad without being offensive. It's true that men overall are
more likely to be sexually abusive than women overall, but this is not
going to be true of the kind of involved father you are describing. We
can't have it both ways - we want fathers to be equal co-parents and to
be actively involved in our children's lives, yet we don't give them the
kind of trust and respect we automatically give to mothers, just because
they're women. My view is that the fathers you've been getting
invitations from deserve nothing but kudos for taking this kind of
initiative, and I only hope your post does not discourage them.
Has it occurred to you that the Dads are in charge of the play dates
because that is who is watching the kids at that time?
Maybe some Dads have more tolerance for watching groups of kids than
some moms. If you have such trust issues about men why don't you go
along on the play date and help the Dad watch the kids. See for
yourself if your suspicions warrant your prejudice. Maybe you will make
You're joking, right?
I have a full time job because I support my family. I'm lucky to have a
stay at home dad taking care of my son. To think that there are sexist
moms out there who think my husband is less qualified to take care of
children than I am just strikes me as completely insane.
No, there is no way to bring this up without offending anybody.
Believe it or not, some of us put you in your uncomfortable situation
because it never occurred to us that somebody WOULD be uncomfortable
with it. Now that I know, I really don't care. If you don't want my
husband hosting a play date, host it yourself.
Personally I think it is hard for me to be the mother who works while
the father arranges the play-dates. There is a big burden to sole-wage
earning, and it is compounded by all sorts of social and emotional
pressures to do everything.
I have found that we have spent enough time with the parents of our
child's friends that the mothers are comfortable with the situation.
Sometimes a mother comes over to ''drop-off'' for the play-date and
stays a long time and talks with my husband - perhaps for social
reasons, perhaps to gain trust. I think that there are a couple mothers,
who may have felt uneasy, and always had our child over to their house -
I did try a few times to invite those children over on the weekends.
Over time those friendships didn't last, and now we have regular
routines with friends where all options work.
Of course, you need to do what you think is right for your family. If
that means always hosting - do it. And take responsibility for that
action, you can't change other people's families.
If your child really has a bond with a friend, and you don't feel
comfortable - you could try arranging something on the weekend with both
families, potentially you could get to know the father and determine if
he is someone you can trust. If you will never be able to trust a man
with your child, then I'd say you just have to schedule around that -
and make sure that you, or another mother is there.
But, as a mother who works, I am certainly not trying to put other
mothers in an uncomfortable position. I am doing as you are - what I
think is best for my child, and that is to have some playdates with
other kids. And for our friends - it works.
I truly don't mean to be harsh, but you are being paranoid and sexist.
It is a common misconception that woman are extremely less likely to
abuse children than men. Childadvocate.org has some very important
information on the way we scapegoat men in our society as the ones who
do everything wrong, when this is absolutely untruthful. It is highly
prejudice of you to think that someone is going to abuse your son solely
on the grounds that they are MALE, and just plain ignorant to think that
someone WON'T because they're female. I understand that you are just
scared that your child is going to get hurt, but god, what would you do
if he had a male teacher? Ask to switch to a female teacher? I'm sure
that the principal and teacher would be disturbed with your prejudice.
Besides, many boys thirve with man teachers.
Is it possible that you had some trauma in your childhood that led
you to feel this way? I would possibly reccomend therapy to see if you
have any very deep issues that would cause to have this kind of distrust
As for playdates, let your child go to them. If you do decide to
turn a father down simply because he is a man it is inevitable that you
will deeply hurt and offend him. I would be just as upset if someone was
racially prejudiced about letting someone care for their children. You
asked ''why do you do this?'' to mothers. Well, why do you expect other
people to trust their children with YOU? Why are you so truthworthy of
their child's own father? What do you do for a single father? Never let
the your son go to their house? They would pick up on that, and be very
hurt. Also, you posed the question only to mothers as though you didn't
want to hear from men, like they weren't part of the issue. I find this
quite disturbing. It is partially because some people react like this to
fathers caring for their children that men aren't as involved in
nurturing their kids.
I hope the the well-being of your son's manners, happiness,
self-esteem about be a man, and social life you will realize that it is
always somewhat of a risk to let go of your children to ANYONE, but it
is something we do because we need to let them grow up and go on into
A Widowed Father and Proud Playdate-Hoster
I am not trying to be rude but are you serious? Your question at the
end ''Also-- to you Moms out there who put us other moms in this
situation, why do you do this?'' I am sorry but this and the questions
that follow it are absolutely offensive to me. I work full time and we
are very lucky that my husband has a flexible schedule and can care for
our child during the day.
He is in charge of playdates. The alternative would be...no playdates
for my child. I am not trying to put anyone in an uncomfortable
position. If you are that uncomfortable with it then the solution is to
just continue to decline the invitations. Please don't judge me and my
family just because I work full time and my husband cares for our child.
Happy my kid spends time with Dad
I am really shocked and appalled by your attitude about this.
And offended on behalf of my husband and other Dads. No one is putting
you in ''a situation.'' You are imagining one. If you trust the home,
then Dad should be as good as Mom. If you don't, then don't. Many of us
are trying to raise our families without the sexism of the past. Dad's
love playing with their kids and hosting playdates just as much as Moms.
And your son will benefit from knowing, as he grows up, a range of men.
I can't imagine any way you could bring this up without offending
people. Because it is offensive. I suggest you reexamine your attitude
of fear towards men, so that you can be cautious is cases where it is
justified, and your son can have a social life.
I'm sure you'll get a ton of responses to your post. Have you read the
book Protecting The Gift by Gavin DeBecker? He assures the reader that
trusting our instincts is the best protection against molestation. Get
to know ANY parent before letting your kid hang out with them. I've
gotten to know a lot of moms and dads since elementary school began and
I am so impressed by ALL the dads I've met. We make an effort to have
dinner with new folks and get a feel for them. Sometimes, the dads are
more fun, attentive, and calm then the moms. In order for our kids to be
good judges of character, they need to experience both genders and a
variety of familial situations. ''Don't cut off your nose to spite your
I am a single mother of an almost 4 year old son, and I'd like you to
know that I would be absolutely DELIGHTED for my son to go on a
dad-hosted play date (or be watched by a male babysitter, for that
matter). I believe it benefits my son to see men in a nurturing role,
and even for kids who have a dad, I believe it benefits them to see
other men in that role too.
Of course I don't ever leave my son with anyone I don't know to be 100%
trustworthy, but I see no reason to assume that someone can't be trusted
simply because they're male -- nor do I assume someone IS trustworthy
simply because she's female (just look at what some nanny-cams have
caught female nannies doing to their charges). Yes, statistically
speaking a somewhat higher percentage of males in our population exhibit
violent behavior, but you're not leaving your child with a population,
you're leaving them with an individual, and it is up to you to decide if
that INDIVIDUAL is trustworthy.
It is not the other kids' moms who are putting you in an awkward
position by ''allowing'' their husbands to host play dates. It is you
who are putting yourself into that position by your unreasonable
attitude towards 50% of the human race. And what kind of a message does
your distrust of men send to your son? I suggest that you work on your
issues with men -- for your sake as well as that of your son.
My son is 7 and has had lots of playdates and I've never even thought
twice about having a playdate with a father in charge. Most of the
playdates that he has is with families that we know quite well. You
neglected to say how old your child is. When my son was younger (under
5) most time the playdates are with the parents present.
We have explained to our son numerous times that under no circumstance
can anyone touch him and if the do they should tell us immediately.
I think it would be terribly offensive if someone asked for my husband
not to be present during a playdate. My daughter is now two and
obviously isn't having playdates yet but when she is older I will have
the same conversation with her that I continue to have with my son. Your
son or daughter should be able to talk to you if they ever have a
playdate that is uncomfortable in any way. Fathers and mothers have
totally different spirits and your child shouldn't be refrained from
Trusting in Berkeley
Could you stay at the house for the playdate? I feel uncomfortable
leaving my kids with anyone, male or female, and usually stay for
playdates to get to know the other parent better.
Maybe meeting at a park or other play area would help....neutral
territory and public.
Wait till your child is older...you will get sleep-over requests to the
dad's house! EEEEKKKK!
I had to read this post 3 times to make sure I got it right. I have to
say- WOW- there is so much going on here. This is wrong on so many
levels- sexist, blaming, etc. I think I could just go on and on and this
would be too long- so I'll just address the question, not the problems.
How about getting to know the entire family so you feel comfortable (or
not) with any member? Moms and Dads do things differently (and I mean in
a good way)- it is fun for kids to hang out with Dads, too.
Have you thought of having a whole family activity with the most
frequent inviters and getting to know the dads, then making a decision?
Inviting them for daddy/kid activities that require adults like the zoo?
I have also done parent/child activities where sometimes it's a mom/kid
pair and another family its a dad/kid pair. This way I get to know both
parents over time. I don't have a blanket rule and I knew many dads I
I have been leaving both my son (6) and daughter (4) for playdates with
solo dads that I know well. If there is a dad I have reservations about,
it's usually because of more ''general''
health and safety issues (dads who don't pay attention).
It saddens and shocks me that you have a blatant suspicion that all men
are likely to be pedophiles or physically abusive.
To read that you ''don't leave my kids with even the men I know
extremely well''??!! Is there a father around? Male relatives?
Well, it really sounds like something horrible happened to you.
If that is the case, you have my deepest sympathy and I hope you seek
But as for insisting that a mom be present... if your reasons are due to
personal circumstances, a therapist should help you with your fears, and
provide the words needed to comminicate with other families.
If this fear is unfounded and based on prejudice and hysteria, then a
request for ''mom only'' would indeed offend and perplex.
We all know how complicated life is - mom might be working, traveling,
doing errands, chauffering other child, with elderly parents, or having
her ''own time'', so I don't expect mom to be present for a playdate at
all. And what about all the complaints regarding men not doing their
share? Not always true! Dads can and do do a wonderful job of looking
after their own children, and others!
So why do moms ''do this''? Why not? They live with and trust and love
their husband... If you know, like and trust the mom and the kids... why
not the husband? It's all part of the same equation.
If you're concerned about a Dad being in charge then perhaps you can
invite yourself over when your child goes on the play date.
If you have a cup of tea and a chat with this man, you might find you
can trust him. If you're still not sure, then invite this child and his
father over your house with another friend and get a second opinion.
If you feel so uncomfortable and distrustful, then perhaps no play
dates. And, you can also ask yourself the question of why you distrust
men so much, has something happened to you in the past rather than just
responding to what you're reading in the paper?
I find some men to be wonderful, others who need watching, the only way
I can decide is by trusting myself.
I bet you'll get a lot of responses to this, but thought I'd toss in my
2 cents. I'd be offended if anyone suggested that my husband couldn't/
shouldn't be in charge of playdates (so, no, I don't have any
suggestions as to how you can ask this without offending anyone). And
as to why moms put you in this ''position,'' I honestly don't think most
people see it as a problem. Maybe you could try to schedule outings
with parents and kids so you could get to know your kids' friends'
families and feel less nervous about the dads?
As a mom who puts other moms in this situation, I do it because I work
outside my home full time and my husband is a full time dad. Weekends
are packed with family activities. He's simply the parent who's
available to supervise play dates. He's as caring and compassionate as
any mom I know. He has never abused any child, physically or
emotionally. I trust him with my child's life and admire his parenting
skills. I know lots of dads like him and leave my child with other dads
because I have gotten to know them first, just like I have gotten to
know other moms.
Until reading your post, it never occurred to me that someone would
label him as a potential child abuser simply because he was born male.
Yikes. You don't mention whether your son has a dad. If he does, doesn't
his dad ever take care of him alone?
Wouldn't you trust your son's dad to care for other children? If the
answer to either of those questions is no, it's no wonder you feel the
way you do. Can't you get to know the dads as well as you know the moms?
I think it's odd to assume another mom is going to treat your child
better than a dad, simply based on their gender.
Give dads a chance
A message of support to dads: I am grateful that you are in our
childrens' lives, and hope that the bigotry and ignorance of a few will
not keep your from the wonderful job you do of raising our sons.
To ''cautious mom:'' Huh? What? If I weren't so saddened by your
perspective, I'd be insulted by your admonishment. I hope that you are
able to find some peace behind this issue before it affects your son's
view of men.
-- Dad-lovin' Mom
Wow, I was shocked and saddened to see your post. I would ask you to
look at what is causing these feelings of extreme anxiety around Dads
supervising playdates, and the harsh criticism you feel for the Moms who
are too busy to supervise. I am a Mom and have often left my husband in
charge of children on playdates at our home. I see nothing wrong with
this. And, no, I don't randomly leave my child with other parents or
families. We have been very careful about getting to know the families
and having a good idea of the home environment before allowing our child
to play at another family's home.
Please don't feel angry at moms who ''allow'' their husbands to host
playdates. You cannot expect a mother who trusts her husband to
anticipate that you won't trust him solely because he is male. She
shouldn't ''prohibit'' him from hosting as though he is not a full
parent. You probably need to be clear before a playdate who will be in
charge. You can explain that you, based on personal experiences, cannot
trust men taking care of children, and can't be comfortable with a
playdate unless mom is in charge. Then they will know only to invite
your son if mom is home. Yes, this means fewer playdates, but better
than none at all. Thank god men are doing more child rearing: let's not
insist on regression!
Mama who trusts Papas
Well, I bet you'll get a lot of responses to this post.
My own response was to wonder what your son's father thinks about your
take on this situation, assuming he is involved.
I think boys (and girls, for that matter) need loving, responsible adult
role models of both genders in their lives, and the more the better. Of
course it is quite sensible to meet and get comfortable with the parents
of your kids' friends, prior to leaving them in their care (obviously
that goes for both mothers and fathers), but to pass on a playdate
solely because the supervising parent, otherwise acceptable in every
apparent way, happens to harbor a Y chromosome, seems pretty peculiar to
me. And what sort of a message are you sending your son who incidentally
will one day grow up into one of these ''untrustable'' males? Please
reconsider your position on this. There are indeed lots of abusive
adults out there, and maybe you've had some personal encounter which has
colored your thinking about this, but I don't think gender-based sorting
will prove to be the most effective way to screen them out. I have not
read it myself (yet), but I have heard good things about the book
''Protecting the Gift'' in terms of empowering both kids and parents
regarding child abuse.
''Also-- to you Moms out there who put us other moms in this situation,
why do you do this?'' Because they might believe that dads are parents
too? I host playdates for my children, as does my wife, and we pretty
much share the responsibilities and rewards of parenting.
I feel for you, because I think what you really want is 100% confidence
that nothing terrible will ever happen to your child on a playdate
(don't we all?!). But I don't think your policy of never letting men
watch your son will accomplish this, because you are only ''protecting''
him from something that is almost certainly not going to happen anyway.
As to why would those of us whose husbands supervise playdates ''put you
in this situation''...obviously, we feel sure that they are good guys
who can be trusted with children. I come from a background where my Dad
was a primary caregiver. My husband is, similarly, a very gentle
person. I would stake anything on his trustworthiness. But I hear
you--you don't know him. You can't be so sure. But then you can't be
sure about women either. The only time I've left my kids with a person
who turned out to be untrustworthy, it was a mom (and it wasn't abuse,
just poor supervision that resulted in an accident). So, unless you
want to make your son miserable by never letting him go to his friends'
houses, you need a process for ''vetting'' potential playdate
supervisors (women and men). If they haven't passed your process, he
doesn't go. Period. What do you do now to ensure that a mom is
qualified to care for your child? Go on a couple joint playdates? Talk
to other families? Can't you use the same process to check out these
dads? Then, at least, if a mom ''springs'' on you that her husband will
be the one home that day, you can say ''Oh, I'm sorry, but I always [do
such-and-such] before I leave him with a new adult.'' That is perfectly
polite and will improve the chances of your son being OK more than a
blanket rule about gender. And if the reality in your circle is that
more dads are home with kids than moms, then you'll have to either find
a way to trust men with your child or host all the playdates at your
place. There's no polite way to insist a mom be home, just in case her
husband is a child molester. Your son is being invited as a
guest--you're not hiring a babysitter. So you can decline, but you're
not in a position to insist on anything.
Please confirm that this is a joke question. ''Put you in this
situation...''? Your concerns sound hecka weird to me -- a dad might be
more likely to let the kids eat junk food or play ball in the house --
--a single mom, and this issue has never even crossed my mind
Sorry but I think you are way out of line. Other Moms are not putting
you in any position - you are being unreasonable. There is no way of
insisting that a Dad not be in charge without offending someone because,
quite frankly, your insinuations that men are not trustworthy are
I should think it would be difficult to keep from offending others by
insisting that a mother is present for a play date. Because you feel
strongly that a father in charge is unacceptable, it seems you should
not pursue these arrangements and should politely decline a dad in
charge play date. Your views on dads are clearly different from some
others and that is your choice, but you cannot force others to see your
views as the right view. As a mom who feels very comfortable that my
husband is quite capable of arranging and supervising playdates, I do
not share your view that I put mothers in an awkward position.
Dear Cautious Mom,
I think your post is terribly offensive and and it really touched a
nerve. My husband makes lots of sacrifices in order to stay at home with
our child. And it breaks my heart when he tells me that no one talks to
him when he takes our child to the park and that he feels like an
outcast. To be honest, I thought he was exaggerating a bit because I
very rarely feel ostracized at the park, but after reading your post,
I'm convinced that he's telling me the truth. Staying at home is
isolating enough, and then to experience this on top of it all! I'm
sorry, but the fathers out there who choose to take an active role in
their child's life should be commended and not treated like pariahs. I
mean, come on, can't we all just get along and accept our differences?
It's amazing to me that this thinly disguised bigotry is so prevalent in
Berkeley of all places.
Woo-boy, I think you're going to get an earful on this one! I don't
think we can ask fathers to be more involved, caring parents and then
treat them all like sex criminals. Your son is going to grow up to be a
man, after all--doesn't he need positive role models from his community?
I know there are guidelines out there for parents to teach their
children how to resist and report inappropriate touching. Better to arm
your children with these skills than ''lock them in the nunnery.'' I'm
sorry if you yourself had a traumatic childhood experience that is
intensifying your fear; if this is the case (or perhaps even if it
isn't), I encourage you to talk to a therapist to help you manage your
anxiety about your son.
Dads aren't evil
Hard to know where to start, so I'll just list my responses to your
1. Re-examine your own assumptions. If I read you correctly you're
effectively saying all men (50% of the population) can't be trusted
(even in group situations) with kids because they have sexual predator
tendancies. This is insulting nonsense.
2. This Dad sounds like he's fully engaged in the childcare, but you
apparently want him out of it (or supervised by the mother!?). Isn't
equal participation the goal of all parents?
3. The appeal to other mother's to not put you in ''this situation'' is
a little self-centered - I'm sure moms occupied with stuff she needs to
4. I'm a skeptic about much of the therapy/wellness industry, but maybe
you have deeper issues that would benefit from some professional
5. Get a wider view of life than that offered by the sensational end of
the media. Coverage of violent/serious crime is going up because the
media is trending to trashier content, this doesn't mean every dad at
the playground is a rapist.
Do some reading about the relative risks of everyday life - The Culture
of Fear (by Barry Glasner), or False Alarm (by Marc
Seigel) both deal with issues of real versus perceived risks, and how
our view of the world can be thoroughly distorted by too much reliance
on popular media sources.
Your feelings are your feelings, but I think you're doing your child a
disservice by assuming the worst of men. Why don't you get to know some
of the dads, maybe co-hosting a playdate with the other parent? I
wouldn't drop my daughter off with anyone I didn't know, but it wouldn't
have anything to do with gender. I know many wonderful dads, some of
whom work PT or are the at- home parent, and I would definitely trust
any of them with my child.
As a dad (stay at home w daughter) I'm sympathetic but not entirely
moved by your problem. Yes there are many more male pedophiles than
female, but basing your behavior and choices on that single fact is
really myopic and, lazy. I have many reservations about what kind of
people surround my child. But they are not based on odds, they are based
on the particulars of the people. Result? I have very few individuals of
any gender that pass muster for exclusive time with her. Baby-talkers,
condescenders, magic thinkers, distractible people, those overly
deferential to males, people who talk past/over kids, people who are
overly impressed by beauty, (to name a few) are not welcome!
What do we do? 1) trust your gut. It may be too late to cultivate a
sense of your animal intelligence (when you feel safe and when you do
not) but If you can, use that sense more and news coverage less. Don't
trust it blindly, but start to listen to it.
If you do not know the dads well enough, then go along on the playdates
- get to know the dads. Be up front about it. You want to get to know
people who come into contact with your kid! You don't have to say ''you
could be apedophile!'' There are plenty of positive reasons to go and
get to know a kid's dad. You might even pick up a trick or two. There
will be other behaviors that you do not approve of but are not
deal-breakers or vice-squad events - now you will know and can explain
to your child that it is not a practice in your family. Anyone who
resists your coming along is really inviting suspicion, don't you think?
included.) Meanwhile, if anyone, you or the other parents, are mentally
logging how many play-dates you have hosted without help vs with...
stop. You have to pick: equity or comfort. My vote is for comfort, I
think yours will be too. You'll find that most of the dads would throw
themselves in front of a bus to save their kids or your son. But you
need to find that out directly and to your own satisfaction and in each
case. (Don't try the bus trick
though) By the way, these dads and their spouses would probably also
like to get a sense of what you and your partner are like (they have
concerns too, you know.) [trimmed to fit, lost some grace, sorry]
Cautious (guided by reason) Dad
You will undoubtedly get a lot of responses on this. But there was no
way for me to not add my 2 cents in. It's certainly not a bad idea to
be cautious, but you are going WAY too far to expect moms to be present
at play dates. I am often not around when my daughter has playdates and
my husband is PERFECTLY fine to manage them without me. I also have
absolutely no problem leaving my daughter with her friends' dads. Dads
are increasingly becoming primary caregivers and are just as good (and
safe) as moms at parenting duties. If you intimated to me that you
needed me to be at a playdate, I'd probably be so insulted that you
didn't trust my husband that it would jeopardize our friendship. I
think that you just need to relax on this issue and focus your safety
concerns on REAL concerns.
This just isn't one of them.
Wow! I think you may be being a little TOO cautious! There are plenty
of wonderful, gentle dads out there. In fact, I think it's wonderful
that more dads are getting involved.
Other mom's are leaving play groups to the dads because they trust them.
I understand being a little nervous about any play group in which you
don't really know either parent. But you stated that you don't even
leave your children with the dad's you know well! Please give these men
your (mostly idle) fears are exactly that; please try not to burden
your son's social life with your problems, likely borne of watching lots
of tv and reading too much trash. yes, there are dangers in the world.
however, a little perspective, please. is what you fear of playgroup
dads any more likely than getting hit by a truck stepping off a curb?
you might consider professional help to try to figure out why you cannot
open up and trust your own instincts in this matter. that is, why are
you too fearful (and most insulting) to consider your feelings about
each dad and situation instead of just making a blanket rule about all?
and whining to the moms that they should not ''put you in this
situation''? you have some nerve.
you have serious issues here, my friend. the only consolation i
can offer you (precious little) is that you are not (sad to say) the
only such person. i am a dad whose daughter suffers from this. my
wonderful 7 year old girl's best friend of more than 3 years (they met
and bonded as the two shiest kids in preschool, unwilling to talk to any
teacher or other kids until their own relationship was cemented, and
they have been inseparable since) has a father with your attitude.
he has commanded his wife to adopt his policy so their daughter can
never come to our house, despite the fact that we all know each other
fairly well. the mom and i carried on a lengthy email correspondance,
entirely about our kids, for quite some time until i figured out (with
some prompting; i never would have come to understand this on my own)
why they would never agree to a play date here. this mom certainly
knows me well enough to countermand her husband, but she has neither the
spine nor the will.
life is too short for this. you can choose to let fear-mongers
(mostly sensationalist media and religious pushers) dictate how you live
or you can ''take a chance'' and go instead with your own perceptions.
of course it's up to you.
i'm guessing you are some heavy religious type, which my daughter's
friend's father certainly is. i am sure that is no
small part of this insane, impractical paranoia.
burned, incredulous, ultimately very sad dad
I am the mom of a daughter but do not share your opinion, although I am
aware about statistics re child molestation. It must feel awful to think
that anyone's dad might potentially molest your child. Based on that, it
sounds impossible to me to develop good relationships with other
parents. You are appealing to other mom's out there to understand you?
Excuse me, but don't you think we know our husbands better than you do?
Who is married to them and who entrusts them with the child we have
born? If you trust other moms to supervise your child, it sounds
contradictory to not trust their evaluation of their husbands as safe
playdate supervisors of their and your child.
I encourage you to not be ruled by your fears, but to trust your
intuition. I also advise you to enroll you and your child in a Kidpower
workshop (www.kidpower.org) and you will have more confidence in your
child dealing with any sort of situation involving personal space and
safety. Your child is growing up and will have to make lots of decisions
on her own at school or elsewhere without you being around. Give her the
gift of confidence and skill, not the legacy of fear. Just check out
Megan's Law on the web and look up the real convicted child molesters
that are living in your neighborhood right now.
That will lead you to Kidpower and maybe extend more trust and credit to
all the superb dads out there.
Yeow. There's no way for us to read this as inoffensive and there's no
way for you to ask it in a way that's inoffensive. Please get yourself
some help to cope with whatever your issues are so that you can come
more healthfully and happily to terms with a world which is - thank
god!!!! - increasingly less sexist and more embracing of dads.
And to answer your question about why the moms leave you in a position
to decide if the dads are trustworthy: don't miss the message that they
are giving you, which is that these men are trustworthy or they wouldn't
leave their own children with them.
Everyone seems to be piling on to this poster so I thought I'd add my
$.02. I don't watch TV or read trash (unless you count the SF Chron.)
As it happens, I had unwanted sexual attention as a child and adolescent
- all from adult men - and I do not believe I am the least bit unusual.
It happens, in fact it happens a lot. It happened to me, to my
girlfriends, to my sister. Adult men behaving in inappropriate ways
towards underage girls, I'm sorry to say, is not unusual. (I don't know
about behavior towards boys - just speaking from my own
experience.) I am not paranoid or man-hating. I'm just realistic. It
turns out that sexual interest in children is more wide spread than was
previously believed - no surprise to me. Also, it is mostly men who
have this 'interest' - also no surprise.
So, I was also cautious when my daughter was invited on a playdate with
her friend and the dad. I sent my husband on the playdate and both
girls and dads had a good time. I don't blame the moms for 'putting me
in a situation' - I figure I can either do the playdate or not. You
don't need to explain anything to anyone - you have reasonable concerns
but voicing them would probably just offend the other parent. Just b/c
you are cautious does not mean you're living in fear. When it
comes to kids I say 'trust, but verify.'
i just had to post. I have been a UC Berkeley grad and read Arlie
Hochschild's Second Shift as a young woman and realize now, the truth of
it as a mother, a career woman and a wife.
The premise was although educated, professional men espouse ''liberal''
and view that the roles of care-giving SHOULD be equal, it was the
middle class man who was most ''liberated''
and equal in household and child care issues. Having read and seen
that from my Republican and upper middle class husband, I was appalled
by your past--from a woman.
It told me and the world that we have a long way to go!! And really, if
my husband made and attended the medical appointments, orthodontic
appointments, e-mails to the teacher, fundraiser, baking for the
fundraiser, dental appoinments, shopping and meal planning, I would be
so happy. I would love it if my husband planned the playdates. I
never, ever thought he would be a pedophile. Or, that the other caring,
kind, sympathetic, and nurturing dads who are involved that I have met
over the twelve years we have had children, are ''gasp''
If I didn't know for a fact that you weren't my sister (her kids are
grown now) I would have thought the voice of your unreasonable fears was
Like you, my sister had ''issues'' surrounding the exposure of her kids
to men under any circumstances. In fact, I cannot recall that her kids
ever went on playdates.
When my own daughter became old enough (3 y.o.) to attend preschool my
sister practically begged me not to send her, or at least wait until she
had turned 4 y.o. ''because that's when she'll be old enough to tell the
truth in court if she had to testify against someone.''I'm sure you can
imagine exactly how she felt when I did enroll my daughter at 3...and
not only that, but in a Co-operative Preschool where there would be
(gasp!) male parents participating!
If I had listened to my sister's alarmist and panic-stricken advice, my
daughter would never gotten to know some of the most incrediable kids,
and I their incredable parents--particularly the dads! After reading all
the previous responses to your post, I was so happy to see that there
are even more dads out there participating and managing playdates than I
could hope for! My husband, like many of these guys, takes a willing and
active role in the upbringing of our girls, in such an extraordinary and
wonderful way (that I neither have the energy or inclination for), that
I wish he was a SAHD, and that all my kids' friends could benefit from
his creativity and willingness to be a kid himself!
As for my sister, she has two adult (a relative term) kids (and is now
divorced from their dad) one of which is a know-it-all, can't tell her
anything, female (not unlike her mother), the other is a male loner who
had a record by the time he was 18, which could be a result of the lack
of positive male role models in his life.
So my advice to you? Be careful what you wish for....
all too familiar
I have to say that this post really saddened me. To tell you the truth,
I have never even considered the possibility that any of my kids'
parents would be a child molester. I'm not going to start now.
To answer your question of why moms aren't available for playdate
patrol: some moms work and the dad is the stay at home parent, maybe the
mom needs a break, or maybe she's out running errands and wants to do it
without kids in tow... There's probably lots of reasons, none of which
have sinister underpinnings.
I understand you want to protect your children, but I think you're
throwing the baby out with the bathwater here. Lighten up.
I too am uncomfortable with dads in charge of playdates. It is sexist,
but I think it appropriate to be sexist when feelings are backed up by
experience and statistics. In my experience, dads are much more likely
to take risks and encourage risky behavior. In addition, men are far
more likely to be molesters.
And as far as ''having a cup of tea'' to talk and prove that someone is
trustworthy, that is ridiculous. Molesters take their victims through a
process called ''grooming'' in which they act normal and suck people in.
If it were as easy as having a conversation, far fewer children would be
molested. In addition, I have heard of far too many cases in which wives
enable these men. So a woman's testimony carries little weight me.
The world is an unsafe place. You have to decide what kind of risks you
want to take. What qualities do you want in the person you leave your
child with? How do you interview someone? I would be upset, for
instance, to make a playdate with a mom, and find out that the dad or a
nanny was in charge. I would feel like the mom was withholding
information. I would lose trust, and would not want to leave my child
with them. I do not leave my child with someone I do not know. Having a
cup of tea with someone proves nothing, but it does make me more
I suggest that the most important thing for you is to ask questions when
setting up the playdate. Who will be in charge?
Where will they be? What will they do? Are there guns in the house?
Where do you keep your toxic cleaning supplies and drugs?
This will give you an idea if the situation meets your expectations.
I think people have been unreasonably harsh in answering this question.
I think your worries are perfectly normal and understandable. I hope you
are able to find playdates that suit both you and your child.
I'm sorry everyone came down on you so hard. I don't share your concern
but want to encourage problem solving (recognizing the suggestions to
get to know the dad and joint or public place playdates).
1. A KidPower class for you and your son. Abusers (and bullies) seek out
kids who are vulnerable. You will learn strategies for talking about
being safe. Your son will learn assertiveness, confidence, and
understanding about what's ok and not. Maybe you'll feel more confident
about putting him in situations where you aren't there to protect him.
You will both have a vocabulary so if anything came up, he'd know how to
talk about it.
2. Rather than making this the only point, how about presenting yourself
as a cautious parent? Make your list of things you like to know. Who
else will be there during the playdate? Are there guns in the house?
What activities are planned? What kind of TV/Video games do the kids
see? Do they have an extra helmet if kids are using a scooter or should
you bring yours? Do they plan to go anywhere and do they need a car
seat? Then, when it takes you a while to let your son go on a play date
alone, no one will be surprised. Offer to bring a book or laptop so the
other parent won't feel like they have to entertain you as you sit in
the living room during the play date. I'd think it was a little wierd
but not a deal breaker.
3. Check Megan's list, unless this would just make you crazier thinking
about all the danger in your neighborhood that you hadn't known about.
4. No More Secrets For Me. Only book I'm familiar with, but I'm sure
there are others.
I haven't used any of these suggestions myself. Since my son was 4, I've
sent him alone into the men's room when there was a line at the women's
room. I'm counting on there not being enough privacy or time for a
stranger to do anything. (As an aside -- guys, when leaving the men's
room and seeing a mom waiting for her son -- maybe not the best moment
to tell me he's cute!!)
And yet, I admit that I watch men a little closer than women when they
interact with kids -- looking for something not quite right. I guess it
makes even laid back me a gender profiler.
Anyone else have any suggestions for this mom?
Nutty about other things, I'm sure
Hey cautious mom...
You got an earful. I hope you are still listening. I've been trying to
think of a way to positively influence you rather than just pile on. So
here is a go:
My mother died last year. Before she died she saw her son was a good man
and became a loving, caring father and was able to say so. This was a
great source of pride and comfort to me. So, for me to learn that your
default opinion of men is so low really concerns me for your son. He is
learning, deep-down, what you think of men and he knows he is becoming
one. You may know the line from a song, ''nobody loves me but my mamma,
and she may be jiving too!'' it is funny, unless you really feel that
way, in which case it may just be the perfect definition of ''bereft.''
If I thought my mother saw me as a pedophile ''in potentia'' I'd go
There is more at risk here than your son being abused by bad men.
There is the risk that he is being underexposed to the influences of
Our society has devolved down to the nuclear family and lots of us are,
in response, trying to expand the number of adults our kids see and
understand and trust: to take up the role of the old network of tribe,
aunts, uncles, grandparents and the like. This does not just lighten the
load for us parents but provides a much more nuanced range of role
models from which our kids can learn.
Isn't it profoundly more useful to think and feel in terms of a variety
of models and options rather than false dualism of Mom Vs. Dad / Kid Vs.
Parent. Our kids are still going to be distressingly like us, so why not
work hard to expose them safely to as many other permutations of kind
and caring adults as we can gather? At least they will have a realistic
sense that your family's way is not the only credible one and they'll
have a fighting chance to choose their own ways to respond to the
challenges of life. That is what many of those other moms and dads are
doing right now: responding not to the training they got as kids but to
the needs of their families.
This is going to take some work and bravery on your part. But it will
change your life for the better and will very likely save your son some
serious self-loathing down the line.
i've read the fiery posts with curiosity and mom's initial post with
some empathy, yet sadness. i was molested by my father all my life in a
household where my mother ran a daycare. as an adult i'm horrified to
think of people dropping their kids off at my house with my dad roaming
in and out - none being the wiser.
my mom defended him to the end. that said, now with two daughters - one
fully grown and one a toddler, i remain afraid of fathers and men in
general - including potential teachers, fathers on playdates, etc. that
fear always sits there in the back of my mind. HOWEVER, I have
surrounded my daughter with the company of excellent beautiful men
(including her father) that I have come to know well and their equally
supportive and compassionate wives/mates. I have found that my fear has
one very troubling symptom that is worse than the fact that I cannot
trust most men (without first building an extensive friendship), but
ultimately, did not trust myself and my decisions to befriend men. So I
guess my advise to you is to begin to understand your fear and to disect
it and to build trust for yourself such that you know that when you
decide to befriend a man or introduce one into your son's life, you have
done everything necessary to make sure your son is safe. that's a hard
path but its better than hating every man for the evil deed of one (even
it that one was your father) and preventing your son from benefiting
from the company of positive men.
I'm sorry you're getting so many enraged responses for voicing a concern
which seems natural and legitimate to me. In the recent past when I was
thinking about how best to educate my young child about the dangers of
I was informed repeatedly that the statistically, a child is MUCH more
likely to be molested by males known to the family and familiar to the
child than by any random strangers. It's specifically advised that a
lost child approach a woman with a child for help rather than any male
Certainly, there exist men who were well known and liked by everyone and
respected by the community who turned out to be child molesters. I
guess personally knowing some people who were molested as children by
their fathers (yes,
fathers) and grandfathers may color my take on this issue (as well as
the overwhelming statistics). So although I can understand how many of
those wonderful dads out there were offended by your concern, I totally
understand your discomfort with leaving your child *alone* (that is, in
the absence of other adults) with a dad whom you may or may not know.
Even my own father- a wonderful father- agrees with me that this
discomfort you're feeling is
understandable. My advice is to go with your instinct. No
matter what is politically correct or wrong, I would never advise that a
parent place his/her child in a situation which s/he strongly feels
could be, may be dangerous. However, if you have the option to stay
during the playdates with the dad in charge, you may find it helpful to
try it a few times to explore further how you feel about this issue.
If you still feel uncomfortable, politely decline. My guess is that
there will be enough playdates with moms in charge so that your child
won't become totally socially isolated.
I have two daughters, and have had similar worries about dads and
playdates. I can tell you of my experience as a child. When I was young,
my family and another family were best friends, children and parents
alike. We did a lot together, including family trips. I thought of these
friends' parents like my own, and trusted them like my own. I was
molested by this family's father, when I was 11 years old. This was
during a sleep-over. It was horribly traumatic. This is not uncommon at
all!!! Abuse of all kinds is most common between friends and family, not
strangers! I don't blame my parents. I don't even know how it could have
been prevented. My parents knew this man well, and he was a ''great''
guy. I think the best we can do as parents is to know the dads as well
as we can, but that is no guarantee. We can educate our kids to some
extent, but i would not want to instill a strong fear of others in my
children. And also, it is very very difficult to expect a child to stand
up to a molester, especially one whom they know and trust. You might
have an idea of how your child might react in a situation. I know my 5
year old girl would never be able to defend herself. It is not her
I think that the fact that you are concerned means at least you are
aware of this ''unspoken'' reality. There are many dangers our children
face, and this is one of them. We want to protect them from harm, and it
is our job to do so. I would be most cautious of ''condusive
situations,'' for lack of a better term. Sleep-overs especially. But we
can't protect them from everything at all times. I think the best we can
do is to build a solid trust with our children, so that they can come to
us when they need us.
Another Wary Mother
I haven't seen all the answers to this initial question. The answers I
saw were thoughtful but did not say that even toddlers can be taught
some appropriate self-defense skills, without frightening them. Every
child can be taught to ask for help from policemen or a block parent.
They need to hear that it's okay to run away screaming ''Help!'' from
strangers who try to grab them. A toddler can be told, matter of factly,
while the doctor is examining his privates that that's a private area,
and only he and the doctor or mommy ever get to touch it.
Toddlers can be taught that when an adult stands uncomfortably close to
them (or leans on them at a movie theater) to say ''Excuse ME!'' and
then ''Back off!''
As the child gets older, you repeat these safety lessons at higher and
more complex levels, just as you repeat politeness lessons. You can
discuss personal space and boundaries to draw, in case it becomes
necessary with older brothers, fathers, or relatives-- their own, or
their friends'. Remind your children that you will defend them and you
want to hear right away if someone hurts or frightens them.
You can teach your children that if an adult-- even a friend's parent--
says that plans have changed and the adult is supposed to take them
somewhere, that adult will also have the ''secret password'' (their
birthday, for instance). They can role play dropping a backpack and
running down the sidewalk. You can tell an older child about kicking a
male in the nuts, and kicking out the car light from inside a car trunk
and waving to get attention. You can play ''what if'' and ''just in
case'' and still say clearly that stranger abductions are extremely
rare, but you want them to have good ideas if the worst ever happens--
just like they practice fire drills.
I have role-played with my 6th grade daughter what I consider an
appropriate response if a boy at middle or high school (not an adult!)
intentionally and offensively touches her butt or her breasts. I want
her to slap him in the face as hard as she can. I would rather she got
suspended for it than the boy get away with harassing girls anonymous
If you are specifically worried about abuse then I think the best way to
keep your children safe is to talk to them about it and make sure they
feel comfortable telling you if something is wrong rather than excluding
all men from your kids lives. My husband is a stay at home dad. There is
no way I would ever spend one of my few days off of work supervising a
play date. There IS no polite way to insist that I do so. If somebody
asked me to be the one supervising a play date because they weren't sure
my husband wasn't a pedophile, we would both be incredibly insulted and
wouldn't want to deal with you at all ever. This is despite the fact
that I survived a sexual assault when I was a child, so no, it's not
because I'm in denial about the dangers of the world.
I'm sorry, but that's just the way it is. All I can suggest is that you
offer to supervise all the play dates. The stay at home dads might think
you're a little odd, but at least they'll still let their kids go to
I couldn't find appropriate comments re how much more to pay
babysitter (if more at all?) when a playdate is arranged during
their usual time. This doesn't really fall under ''nanny share''
because the other family doesn't need the care. Since I have a
5 year-old, it is actually less work for the babysitter when
someone else is over, since they really just want to play with
the other child. This issue will come up over the summer, as I
want to keep my babysitter 3 days a week, but don't want to be
limited as to playdate scheduling. What do other people think?
In my experience, (as a former nanny and one who had nannies growing up)nannies are
paid the same amount for playdates. It seems to be a reasonable and expected aspect
of the job.
I'd take care of my charges and their one or two friends on playdates often.
Regarding whether or not to pay a babysitter more for time supervising during
playdates...that's a thoughtful question. I guess that for one additional child
during a playdate it's not typically any more work (as you mentioned, it's often less
work) but of course I wouldn't go beyond a ''single friend''
playdate. The administrative hassle of tracking how many playdate hours during the
pay period is daunting enough. That said, if the children playing are in a situation
that requires a lot of supervision--a playground, swimming pool, etc.--I do think a
modest bonus or tip would be appreciated for the extra effort in monitoring the safety
of the little ones. It's not necessarily an issue of ''I pay you for what you do/your
interaction with the kids'' so much as ''I value you for keeping my child and her
friend safe and sound''.
I think you definitely have to compensate your nanny during a playdate. The other
child's parents may not need care, but you do and your child does and if the other
child is with your child, then they need care too. Your nanny may have an easier
couple of hours when she is with the two children (or she may not) - but she is still
responsible for them both - you are not paying your nanny to play, you are paying your
nanny to be responsible for and to take care of your child. And if you are asking her
to be responsible for and take care of another child, then I think you need to
compensate her for it.
You're not home. You're paying a babysitter. She/he gets the same hourly rate no
matter what your child is doing. What you're suggesting is sort of like saying, I'd
like to pay my sitter less when my baby is sleeping - if you had a baby. The
caregiver is there ensuring that your child is safe, fed, happy, healthy and out of
harm's way - the pay should be the same for every hour she/he is present. And, the
family of the playdate child should assume no cost, unless the sitter feels she/he
should charge for the care of a second child. (Which I feel is also with his/her
rights.) -Not a caregiver, but an advocate for one.
My rule of thumb is that more children is more work for the
sitter: it demands more attention, more presence of mind, more anticipation to avoid
accidents. And, were anything to happen, any accident or emergency, the sitter will
have to deal with an injured child and a very scared other child.
All that aside, I put myself in the sitter's shoes:
-Even though the kids may play with one another, their demands are doubled; -I could
get paid more elsewhere.
Getting, and keeping, a sitter you trust is the issue, not the money.
When I was a babysitter, I got paid the same whether I was taking care of one kid or
four. I worked just as hard for one as I did for four. You give 100% of your
attention, whether it is one or four! In terms of how hard it is - that balances out.
You don't have to work as hard to come up with fun activities, but you might have to
resolve a really sticky dispute over a toy, or make two different kinds of snacks.
Times have changed, and now some sitters expect to get more money when they take care
of more kids. I think that's fair if the sitter is actually being hired by two
different families who would otherwise each have to hire their own sitter. So, to me,
the answer to your question depends on whether it is a "true" playdate. Is the friend
coming over for an hour or two to play with your child, and if you weren't working,
you'd be on duty? (A true playdate) Or is it a school holiday, you have a sitter and
your friend doesn't, so your sitter is going to watch both kids all afternoon? (A
sitter share) In the former situation, I would not pay the sitter extra; in the latter
situation, I would.
When I hire a sitter, I tell her what hourly rate I'm offering, and I also tell her
this includes cleaning up the kitchen, running the occasional errand, and supervising
playdates. When there's a school holiday and a friend wants to share my sitter, I
tell the sitter what we're planning, offer to pay her extra, and ask her if it's OK.
So far, they've mostly been delighted (except for the case below). My regular rate
for one child is $13 per hour; I've bumped it to $15-18 for two depending on the
I did have a problem once with a sitter who wanted to be paid extra for taking my
child to his friend's house to play. The friend's mom was at home, but the sitter felt
that if she was forced to be at the friend's house rather than doing what she, the
sitter, wanted to do, then she deserved extra $$. I disagreed with that position, and
let her go. Especially after I discovered that part of what she wanted to do was nap
on the couch while my child played alone outdoors, which was not possible to do at his
I don't really know about the babysitter having less work with a playdate over. If
your children are only 5 (nc. the playdate), it seems to me they have a lot of
opportunites to get into some kind of mischief/trouble, so the babysitter has to be on
watch even more. True, she doesn't have to engage your child as much because he/she
will have a playdate, but they both will want to do things that may not be appropriate
(climbing on furniture, sticking things in their nose, ears, etc.). If you are home
during the playdate, then you can watch the other kid and your nanny can watch your
kid, but if you are not home, then the adult at home is in charge of the children - it
sounds like this would be the nanny, in your case. so pay her extra; maybe ask the
parent of that child to pay for the hour of playdate.
You don't have to pay a babysitter more when your kid has a playdate.
That's part of the whole nanny thing. They care for the kids as you
would and part of that is the little tykes'
social lives. If you were having 3 kids over a day every day of the
week, that might be a problem but if your child has a couple of
playdates a week with one kid, that is totally within the realm of what
is expected. It's actually easier for the nanny in many cases when
there is a playdate because the children are entertained and it makes
the nonplaydate part of the day easier too. Even if it was ''harder'',
it is still within the expected duties of a nanny. I assume there is
some reciprocity too (where your nanny might have some time off when
your child goes on a playdate somewhere else and you would pay her for
those hours generally). Still that would not be a requirement.
there's a difference between a babysitter and a nanny. Although you
might not be paying your nanny(who is on a fixed schedule week in and
out) extra when there are additional children, you would pay a
babysitter (occassional sitting jobs) because in fact (s)he's caring for
extra children. As a parent, I do not consider playdates ''free time''
for me. It's extra work, I have another child or two that I am
mother of 4
Help I am beside myself over a playdate that went horribly awry
between my almost 4 yr old and her 4.5 yr friend. The girls have
known each other since they were infants, and whenever we go
over to the friend's house, the older child is very good about
sharing her things, but when they come over to our house, my
daughter gets very possessive and is reluctant to let her friend
play with anything. Usually this can get worked out, though it
often seems like the friend gets the short end of the stick
because my daughter is so insistent at getting her way and she
ends up prevailing. An additional problem is that the other mom
and I have pretty different parenting styles (I'm more into
letting them work things out, but the other mom often wants to
intervene, I think partly to protect her daughter from always
having to give in).
Last night it started on the wrong foot (e.g. going into the
dark room an argument started about who should turn on the
light) and then just got worse (''No, you can't use my special
party shoes...No, you can't use my sleeping bag...No, I want
that wand''). Finally the other mom and I decided that they
should go since this wasn't working out, but we gave my daughter
one more chance, saying that we would let the other girl pick
whatever bowl she wanted for dinner and my daughter was going to
have to be gracious. Well you can guess what happened: the other
girl picked the princess bowl, and of course that was the one my
daughter wanted, my daughter threw a fit, and so the friend and
mom left, with the friend now crying that she didn't care what
bowl she used she just wanted to stay, and my daughter saying
(essentially) oh good now I don't have to share. This was pretty
much the opposite of the outcome that we wanted!
I think both me and the other mom are running out of energy for
this, and last night I don't think we handled things well. So
I'm looking for advice on (1) how to do it better next time (2)
what are reasonable expectations for this age for sharing (3)
just general insight or experience with similar situations.
I'm sorry you've been having a hard time with sharing; I know
this can be upsetting. A few suggestions:
Let your daughter know that if there is something very special
to her which she is unwilling to share, she can set it aside
before the playdate, and neither one of them will use it or see
it during the playdate. It's fine if she needs to protect her
boundaries, but impolite to use something in front of somebody
else without being willing to share.
If there is an argument about who has the ''right'' to use
something now, avoid solving it while things are heated. This is
not a particularly teachable moment. You can say something
like, ''Clearly this thing is getting in the way of you enjoying
your friendship right now. Your friendship is more important
than this thing. I'm going to put it away now.'' Remove the
object. Repeat as often as necessary.
Try to catch issues before they become heated. (This may mean
hovering close by during playdates for a while.) Whenever you
see the opportunity, join them to model sharing techniques, i.e.
taking turns, flipping a coin, using a timer, playing with the
item together, finding the other playmate an acceptable
substitute, playing something different, etc.
Keep playdates short enough for you to monitor them and be
consistant with your responses.
Remind your child of her successes whenever you have the
If you want to keep things very simple and straightforward, you
might consider letting your daughter know that the new house
rule is that the guest is always right. She lives there all the
time, and can play with anything after her friend leaves. This
isn't ''fair,'' however it is polite. Use your own judgement
there - this is appropriate for some children and families, not
Good luck. It can be done. I taught preschool for 7 years before
having my own children, and can tell you that it is possible to
make a difference with attentive consistancy.
Does your daughter behave this way with other children? Four is
a tough age -- they have such strong feelings and are not
I'd just avoid having that friend over for awhile. Meet at
neutral places to continue the friendship ... don't keep
forcing a painful situation on all 4 of you. I expect the other
mom will agree.
Wow, that's a difficult situation. I can't offer you much
advice, but you asked about other people's situations and I'm
happy to talk about what we've experienced. My daughter is four
too and she is probably more like ''the friend''. She's fairly
easy going and is fine with sharing most of the time. We've
just started to ask if there is any toys she would like us to
put away before a friend comes over (usually no). If she and a
friend start bickering over something, it gets taken away.
We do play with one other four year old and I'm always amazed
that the mom seems to actually promote selfishness in her
daughter. I frequently hear things like ''you don't have to
share'' or ''you have told her you don't want to share, so walk
away''. That can be anything from Goldfish to toys. I would
never let my child get away with such behavior, much less
support it. If you don't want your situation to get more out-of-
hand, maybe think about things like punishing bad behavior
(time outs, no TV, no dessert, no books, whatever is important
to her) and rewarding good ones (''you can have this lollipop if
you share/behave on your playdate''). Good luck!
We are finally getting to the point of stoping playdates with
friends who are consistently not ''playing nice'', be it pushing
repeated or consistently having issues with attitude/behavior.
Playdates should be fun, not stressful!
Mom to a four year old
For a consistent behavioral problem the only way to address it
successfully is to follow your strategy for boundary conditions.
In our case that means explaining in advance what will be
expected, what the consquences will be of not behaving as
expected, and then following through on the consequences without
Once you begin to observe the behavioral change you are looking
for, you then of course reinforce it with praise. We would say
something like: ''Wow, I noticed that you shared your pink dress
and your blue dress, and I think you can be proud of yourself for
that,'' or later ''I noticed that you tried very hard to share with
your friend for a whole hour.''
We usually give praise right after the behavior has changed for
the worse because that represents the time immediately after her
energy for maintaining the new behavior have flagged and she has
therefor put the most effort into attempting her change. She
knows without saying that the last thing she did was not to share
so I don't feel a need to point it out to her, but if she is
approaching a boundary condition then I will also remind her of
both the boundary and the consequences of crossing that boundary.
Over a longer period of time you can explain to her why the
behavior isn't acceptable to you, which we do through stories.
In stories we can experiment with good and bad behavior, the
consequences of the behavior, good and bad.
If she argues with you about your boundary conditions then you
can work out a compromise using the techniques of negotiation to
agree what behavior is ok, and what the penalties will be for not
living up to that behavior. Compromise usually starts with
brainstorming for ideas, followed by analysis, then rejecting
intolerable options, and finally selection from among the
In negotiating with kids it is usually a good idea to have them
suggest at least the first two or three ideas or they will have a
hard time participating. We usually allow each side in the
negotiation to remove one suggestion on the board as unacceptable
as a starting point. (Almost always kids will identify the
status quo as one of their options. Later, add your own 'my kid
is a little angel' as counterpoint.)
Kevin Smathers firstname.lastname@example.org
I don't have any advice, just wanted to let you know that I can
sympathize! My child is also one of those bossy kids and I find
playdates extremely tiring because I am running interference
constantly. My husband says some kids are leaders others are
followers and that eventually, it'll work out. Is yours an only
child? Sometimes I find that only children are a little needier
than children with siblings. If it helps, a friend of mine told
me that it only feels worse to me because I'm aroudn it all the
time, other parents may not think it's that bad.
I am sure you'll get lots of advice about sharing. I can't wait
to read it because I haven't got a clue. But one piece of advice
I do have is that if you really like the other mom (despite your
acknowledged different parenting styles), have a few dates with
her alone, without kids. Build a friendship that isn't based on
your daughters. Go have a cup of tea one weekend morning, or get
a glass of wine and some dessert when the girls have gone to bed
and daddies are home. Building a relationship as women (not as
mothers) will enable you to work it out together and not take the
girls' power dynamics too seriously. Plus it'll set a good
example about how two different people can make and keep
friendships. Worked for me.... the best mom-friend I have is
someone whose son constantly fights with mine. We just laugh it
off, leave (with tears shedding sometimes) when things get rough,
and continue to coach the boys together and separately on how to
be good friends. Then on the rare occasion that we get together
after bedtime or alone, we talk about other things and forget
about the kids completely. What a nice treat that is.
You could talk to your daughter ahead of time and let her know
that she needs to share her toys. Then you could specifically
discuss which toys your daughter is willing to share. If she
can't share a *large* portion of her toys, let her know that her
friend cannot come over. She might start getting really generous
if she sees that her friend won't come otherwise. You could put
away the one or two toys that are special to her. Also, set very
explicit boundaries about what will happen if she doesn't share
(e.g., the friend will go home) and there are no second chances.
Sounds like you and your friend are really involved, concerned
parents and I bet it will work out.
It sounds to me like you need to work more aggressively with
your daughter to get her some sharing practice, so that she
understands that she has to share, or she can't have friends
visit. It will take time, but after a while she'll realize that
it's for such a short period of time, and it's such a nice thing
to do for your friends, that she'll eventually get it--unless
you want her to grow up being self-centered and lack empathy.
I'd also suggest that you work with her when she's visiting her
more generous friend, and let her know every time the friend
shares some toys that it's really a special thing for her to do,
and give the friend lots of praise for it. And I hate to say
this, because it sounds like it may be anathema to you, but you
may want to try intervening a little more. Little kids don't
really know how to ''work it out''--what happens is that the
stronger, more aggressive kids ''win''-and they don't learn the
joys of sharing and social niceties. And the less aggressive
kids don't learn polite ways to stand up for themselves. You
want to give your daughter the message that you will require her
to be fair, and you will enforce that. My guess is that your
friend and the other girl will probably welcome the change too.
On the other hand, if you just can't intervene, your daughter
will probably learn that it's important for her to keep her
things to herself, and to fight as loudly as she can to ensure
that nobody takes her things. It sounds like this strategy
worked for her last time. (and to the extent that the other
parent grows weary of explaining to her daughter why she has to
share but her friend doesn't, you may end up with other friends
and parents of friends with similar philosophies and kids with
similar strengths as yours.)
Here is what I do with my son (3.5 yrs old) when he has a
friend coming over: I ask him if there are any toys he does NOT
want to share with his friend(s). For the toys he does not want
to share, they will get ''put away'' until the friend leaves --
any toy that is within reach will be shared. This gets him
thinking about it as I do explain that any toy he doesn't want
to share will be put away. He has never chosen to put away any
toys and has stated that he wants to share. Of course, there
are sometimes issues, but they are fleeting. First, I remind
him that he chose to share this toy. Secondly (if the issue
continues), I suggest setting a timer. Depending on the ages of
the child, the timer is set appropriately. When the timer
beeps, its someone else's turn (I've seen kids ask for the
timer and I've never had an issue with the switch when the
timer goes off!!). I am very stern in that the friends' are the
guests and therefore, they get the first turn, unless of
course, it was a toy my son had first and the friend attempted
to grab from him. Issues are minimal. I have other friends that
do the same and it seems to work very well. Ultimately, I would
suggest you might want to be firmer with your daughter. She
knows which buttons to push with you and it sounds like she
often gets her way-- change your reaction to her outbursts and
don't give her a payoff for it. She may lose this friend for
it. The friend is being punished for your daughters outburst
and that doesn't seem fair to the friend, or your daughter....
A number of different thoughts:
If you value your friendship with the other girl's mother (you
said your children have known each other since infancy so I
assume you and her mother are friends) then you may have to
consider changing your parenting style.
Frankly, if I was your child's friend's mother I would not
continue playdates with your daughter. If you won't step in and
help work things out or at the very least point out to your
daughter that her behavior is rude (especially to guests) than
I wouldn't want to have you as a friend! Why endure all that
grief, especially for her daughter.
Your daughter knows the difference between right and wrong,
it's your place as her parent to reinforce good decision
making. Four year olds know the importance of sharing, giving
and helping make a friend feel comfortable in their home. Mine
certainly does, and I would expect no less.
Perhaps your daughter is not ready for playdates at her home (a
park might work better?), and until she is ready to behave
properly with/to her guests than maybe you might want to hold
off on play dates.
Not afraid to step in
We had a similar situation. Here is what we did and it worked.
We had a ''meeting'' with parents and children at the beginning of
the following playdate and we said that do not like how they
handled the problems and that they needed to find a solution
acceptable to both parents and children. We also told them that
the ultimate solution was to not see each other anymore. They
quickly realized that the only solution was to share and get
along. Once in a while we had to remind them that both parents
and children needed to be okay.
Hi. My son and his very best friend who have know one another
since they were weeks old went through this. We would set some
ground rules about sharing and the consequences and follow
through like you did. For a short while we saw less of each
other, but the phase passed and at 5 they are the most amazing
friends. So, my advice is to wait it out, adjust to this phase
and it will pass as they get a bit older, you'd be amazed at the
difference a couple months makes at this age in terms of
capacity for empathy and compassion. If you miss your friend
make some dates without the kids so your friendship can remain
intact during this phase.
been through it
there are a couple of things you can do.
First meet other places besides your home until your daughter
gets through this stage my kid is more possesive in his own home too.
Before meeting for playdates, talk to her about sharing and ask
her which things she does not want to share then help her put
them away until after the playdate. while you're at it, help her
pick some toys specifically for sharing. try to pick toys that
encourage sharing like two-person games, balls to play catch. if
something is brought out that she doesn't want to share offer to
put it away or ask her to put it away until later if she doesn't
want to share it.
I agree that kids need to learn to work things out themselves
eventually, but it is up to us to teach them some tools so that
they don't always resort to grabbing, pushing, screaming and
crying. I'm trying to teach my son (much younger than your
daughter) to make a trade, ask nicely, use your words, and take a
turn after the other child is done.
If nothing seems to work and he seems to just be working himself
up into a lather, I bring him to his room for a cool-down period
either alone or with me and then I tell him that if he doesn't
want to play nicely, others won't want to play with him. if he
seems more content to play by himself, I let him.
Also I find that often when another child has a toy, it becomes a
desired object, not because the toy is interesting to him but
just becasue someone else has it. I try to have duplicates or
eqivalents of some toys. For example my son has a rhino
flashlight the roars when his mouth is opened. he was fighting
with his friend for it so we got out another regular flashlight
that he usually likes. he refused it until I asked
enthusiastically for it and started playing with it. Then he
forgot all about the rhino flashlight and came over to take mine,
which he got after asking nicely.
I think you've answered your own question. You like to let the kids work it out, your
friend intervenes when her daughter misbehaves. Her kid shares, yours doesn't. In
our family, when friends come over, we share EVERYTHING. Nothing is 'too special.'
If our kids don't share something, we intervene - not by giving them one more
chance or a different opportunity to do the right thing, but by giving the other kid
the toy in question and reminding ours about the rule. Generosity isn't always about
feeling generous. It's about actually sharing and giving - even when you don't really
feel like it.
It sounds like my son is a lot like your daughter. There are a
few things that which have improved our things considerably:
Before any situation where sharing might be an issue, we set up
expectations that someone will be using his things. We start
these discussions as much in advance as possible, ideally the
night before. If there are special things he doesn't want to
share he can choose to set them aside.
We have also stopped expecting him to hand over a toy the moment
another child asks for it. Im sure that some parents will call
this selfish, but I would never just automatically give my child
the newspaper Im reading or food off my plate or control of the
TV simply becuase he expressed an interest). If I was in the
middle of enjoying something he wanted I would either figure out
a way we could enjoy it together, ask him to wait until I was
finsished, or simply tell him no, his request could not be
granted. This is not because I am a selfish person, but rather
that I believe there are limits to what another person is
Now we expect the same from our son. If a dispute arises we
either help him figure out a way the parties can play together
(you'd be surprised how often this works), remind him to explain
that he is in the middle of using an item and that he will give
the other person a turn as soon as he is finished, or in some
cases my son will explain that an item is very special to him and
try to find a comparable item for the other person to use (this
only happens with a particular cape or during unplanned
encounters). If my son is not ready to part with an item we
expect him to help the other person find something else to enjoy
in the meantime.
The result has been that so much of the anxiety of someone
''taking'' something has diminished. My son now shares not because
he's being forced to, but because he actually wants to.
We still have our moments and tantrums. In those cases my son is
removed from the situation NOT the item in dispute. Afterall,
he's the real source of the problem, and most times a change of
space can bring on all sorts of good will. I also found that
when I took things away everybody felt bad, and no one had a
chance to learn anything about getting along.
I'm a mom of two young kids (a 3 1/2 year old and a 1 1/2 year
old). My daughter attends preschool 3 days a week and my
husband and I both work full time...although I stay home with
my kids one day a week as part of a flex schedule.
When the weekends roll around, we typically spend the majority
of the time as family time (playing with the kids,
taking ''mini'' day trips, doing errands).
In the past month or so, I have talked to at least 3 Moms that
were quite surprised that I haven't been setting up play dates
for my daughter...either during the week or on the weekends. I
guess I just figured that since my daughter can play with kids
at preschool 3 days a week, that she is already having plenty
of time with other kids. But suddenly I'm feeling very guilty
since it sounds like everyone else is making playdates a top
I'm just torn and feeling stressed out about it. Perhaps my
husband and I are being selfish since we do monopolize our kids
weekends and late afternoons during the week. But I don't want
to be a bad Mom and deprive my kids of something that seems so
important to most other Moms I have talked to.
Any advice or insight would be much appreciated.
Trying to be a good Mom,
No, you are not the only one who has not set up a play date for
your children. I am a single mother of a 2 1/2 year old daughter
and I don't set up play dates for her either. When school is in
session at Cal, she is in day care five days a week from
8am-4:30pm, so she gets to play and socialize with other children
I think that it is important for children to be able to interact
with other children their age, but I do not think that it is
exactly neccessary to set up play dates with other parents and
their children when you do not want to. Please do not feel force
to set up play dates or like you are doing something wrong
because you have not done so. You have limited hours with your
children so I think that you wanting to spend as much time as
possible is totally fine. If you still feel like you should be
setting up play dates then maybe you can consider doing a
playdate one Saturday a month with one of your children's friends
from school or with other parents and children that you know.
Sorry such a long email, I hope that it helps =)
Spending time with family has got to be one of the most
important things you can do with your children -- you are
creating a great foundation for a solid family unit. She's
getting social interaction with other kids as you mention.I
think it's wonderful that you WANT to do so much as a family
(so many parents don't seem to want this) - until your daughter
expresses an interest to be playing with friends more, I
wouldn't change a thing. I think the whole ''playdate'' thing is
Family Is #1
Hi Kimby - you are definitely NOT the only one not doing
playdates. My 2 1/2 year old son is also in preschool 3 days a
week, his grandmother and I spend the other 2 days with him,
and as with you, weekends are family time (and the time when
Dad gets one-on-one time). Sometimes we see other families all
together, either weeknights or weekends, but I almost never
make formal playdates. I think it's more common for SAHMs (or
dads) because they're with their kids so much and it's nice to
get a break, and if the kids aren't in preschool there's more
need to organize social interaction. I've asked myself the
same question you pose, and basically decided that he's getting
plenty of socializing in preschool and there will be plenty of
time in the future for friends - I don't feel at all guilty
taking advantage of the time with him now, it won't last!
The eternal playdate question :)....... Well it is simple, the
problem is not the playdate, the problem is what is the real
purpose and how it is done.
1.- The purpose sometimes is dubious, is the playdate actually a
way to get free babysitting services or is a genuine invitation
to get to know you and your child?.
2.-The way the question is posed. It it almost an impositon by
''desperate'' parents who need your child for ''entretaiment''
purposes for their child. In other words they are going to use
your child to keep theirs busy while they do something else. Get it?
If they impose the playdate, like they are ''telling'' you you have
to have one.
When as soon as you have a playdate, they request or impose ''it
is your turn now''.
Suddenly playdates turn into sleep-overs.
Playdates that your ''friend'' is requesting during the week turn
into playdates you have to have at your home on ''weekends''.
Constant phone calls for playdates from the same person.(run for
your life from this person).This is a perfect example of
intention of creating a free babysitting system.
The Positive playdates:
When you are asked for you and your child to join ''XYZ'' person
for a nice cup of coffee/tea, and the company of your son for a
couple of hours.
When after the playdate the couple decides to get to know you
better and invites you, not your child, not spend time together.
When you visit with your child, a babysitter is present for the
adults to have ''me-time''.
When you are invited to an outting, like movies, theater, cinema,
restaurant etc.. and they love to have you too.
If non of the above applies, hire a babysitter!. It is true kids
do have a lot of time to spend in school together; unless is with
the neighbor, orquestrating a playdate is quiet a dilemma in the
''red flags'' condition.
Same problem here
I am the mother of a 21-month old and I've only arranged one
playdate, which was more of an informal gathering because my
husband and I are friends with the parents of the other child
and we wanted to spend time with them.
I am in a similar situation to you: both my husband and I work
full time and our son is in daycare. I have thought about
joining a mother's group so my son could have interaction with
other kids but I've hesitated because I believe that he spends
enough time with other kids in daycare. I feel that what he
really needs is to spend quality time with his parents.
I wouldn't feel guilty about it. It seems everything I've read
about child development talks about how important it is for a
child to spend time with his/her parents. Your child is getting
interaction with other kids at preschool.
OK with few playdates
I just wanted to chime in that we NEVER do playdates. My
daughter just turned 4 years old and has only been going to
preschool for about 5 months now (5 halfdays a week). Like you,
my husband and I both work full time so when the weekends rolls
around, I want all of us to be together even if it's just
running errands or working around the house.
I feel like she gets plenty of socialization at school so I
don't understand playdates myself... Maybe someone can
enlighten me to its benefits?
In the meantime, don't stress yourself out! Enjoy this time
with your kids while they still want to hang out with you. The
way I look at it, by the time my daughter is 7, she's probably
going to prefer her friends over me!
You're Not Alone!
I never did any playdates either really and also felt some
guilt about it as well. My husband and I work full time and
the kids were in daycare so I basically didn't see the need. I
wanted to spend time with the kids on the weekends and didn't
want to have to deal with organzing playdates anyway.
I think the playdate thing is probably really appropriate for
either only children or for kids who don't go to preschool
(moms stay at home or nannys care for them) as the main point
seems to be socialization and giving the parents a break.
Don't worry. I think the primary reason people seek playdates is
to occupy their children. If you don't have the need to do so,
why sweat it? Your oldest is probably getting enough social
interaction at school, your youngest is still probably in the
parallel-play stage (not really interacting with other kids) and
as long as you don't see some behavior you want to help adjust
along the lines of social development, don't worry what other
people say. They, like me, are probably just a bit in awe of
you for not feeling like you need the relief of playdates.
We all worry too much.
You definitely do not need to be setting up playdates for your children if you don't
want to. If they had no contact with peers I might suggest you do so, but they
obviously get enough social stimulation at school (and at this point although your 1
1/2-year-old might enjoy some parallel play with peers, it definitely is not
necessary). I think my 4-year-old need some down time and quiet after being in
school so I don't schedule many play dates (maybe 3 per month). When I do it is as
much for me to have someone to visit with as it is for them to have someone to play
with. If you are not into it, don't worry about it at all.
Don't feel guilty. We don't do it with our 3 year old either.
He'd much rather be with us at this point, and he gets kid-time
during his 2 days at daycare. Soon enough he will be with kids 5
days a week and will get plenty of social time. Enjoy it while
your kids WANT to hang out with you!
I don't think you are doing anything wrong! I have a lot
of ''baby guilt'' over many decisions (i'm staying at home, not
doing playdates either, not getting enough time for myself so
i'm a more refreshed mom, feeling detached because i'm so tired,
only having a few scheduled activities per week, the list could
go on forever). My son seems to be well adjusted so far (he's
only a little over a year). If your kids seem happy and well
adjusted, then it seems to me things are fine the way you are
doing them. And it's not selfish to want to spend time with
your kids on the weekends and evenings when you work! I think
it's great to spend time with them then, eventually they'll want
to spend more time with their friends anyway, so enjoy it while
I am a SAHM and the reason that playdates exist at such a young
age IMHO is so that SAMHs won't go insane. I have a 3-year-old
and a 1-year-old. We get together with 'her friends' (okay,
really the children of my friends) quite frequently. My
oldest 'likes' her friends, but still likes being with me
better. That will change, but at these ages, I think that
playdates are still really just for the parents.
Please don't stress about this. It's so easy to get caught up as
a parent (I have many times about this or that) in paying too
much attention to what ''other parents'' do and say when listening
to ourselves and our kids as to what is right for us would make
us happier in the long run. I personally think it's much more
important at this age to have lots of family time. Your daughter
gets time to socialize with other kids at preschool. If parents
are honest, often the purpose of ''playdates'' is socializing (for
the parents) or free time for the parents (when kids are old
enough to be dropped off). Is your daughter begging to see her
friends on weekends? If not, enjoy the family time! If she is,
why not arrange something on an occasional basis.
Don't Worry!!! I have a nine year old son and a 4 year old
daughter and we don't do play dates. First of all I don't like
this term. I feel as though kids are overly scheduled and
should be able to hang out more at home and play with
neighborhood kids if possible. If your children are getting
playtime with other kids during the week, then why complicate
your life and impede on your family time? Also, if your child
gets invited to a ''play date'' then you can decide whether or
not to go but I really wouldn't worry about it. Play dates are
not necessary for every child and every family.
I have a 6 year old and a 3 year old, and I don't arrange
playdates unless my kids specifically ask, which they rarely do.
They're both social at their respective schools, and both have
their own best friend. And they both enjoy getting calls for
I also used to wonder if I was being negligent in not helping my
kids pursue friendships, if I was cheating them out of extra
social skills, if I was being perceived as anti-social.
But I've slowly decided that it's a matter of family style,
personality of your kids, and what you're comfortable with.
Sometimes I like to just let the weekend flow without having to
work around playdates scheduled a week prior; sometimes it's a
lot of trouble to pick up/drop off; sometimes I just don't want
another kid over to make more mess/trouble; sometimes certain
parents take advantage...
But I do find that the kids have a lot more fun at the park if
they can play with friends there, so that's what we usually do.
As long as your daughter isn't asking for playdates, it sounds
to me like there's nothing you need to change! As you've said,
your daughter is getting plenty of social time with her peers
at school. If she wanted more time with friends, she'd
probably tell you. Just wait until she's 12. (-:
NO! Don't worry about the playdate pressure. We tried two playdates before my (then)
4 year old started preschool (she only went to preschool the year before kindergarten).
The first playdate went fine, the second ended in tears when the little girl didn't want
to play with her. My daughter only did occasional classes with other kids (music,
ballet, swimming) before age 4 1/2. But she thrived in preschool and is thriving in
kindergarten. The same is happening with my 3 1/2 year old. Little kids don't really
NEED playdates, unless they live in a very secluded area and never see other kids.
Leave it be until she's older, has friends, and is ASKING for playdates. You're doing
I have a 5 year-old and we never had playdates when she was in
pre-school (and still have very few now). It's so important for
your kids to spend time with YOU. There will be plenty of time
for friends later. You only have some much time to give to your
kids and you should follow you intuition and don't listen to
Like you, we spent our weekends doing family-focused stuff,
including outings, errands, and sometimes getting together with
extended family or friends. We rarely or never scheduled
playdates, and our daughter didn't seem to miss them. When
other parents talked about them, I was amazed that they could
even find the time to set them up!
In retrospect, I wish we'd gotten into the habit of playdates
earlier. Once our daughter figured out that other people did
them, she felt left out. We're also finding that, while she's
academically ahead of her peers, she is lagging socially. I
don't know if more play dates earlier would have helped, but I
think it is possible. It is also true that other families have
established routines for playdates, and have families with
which they have them regularly, and it has been hard for us to
become part of this network.
I wouldn't try to revamp your life completely, but if you can
manage a playdate a month now, it might be helpful later.
I don't think you are being selfish. I know many families who
would not do anything with other families on weekends but only
the nuclear family. The only problem with this is if your child
wants a playdate with a child of a fulltime mom - then there
are few options. Having said that, most children don't ''ask''
for playdates at 3 1/2, and preschool several days a week can
be enough socialization. Most moms are doing playdates for
themselves at this age, or (like me) wanted their child to get
to know other children in a one-on-one situation to help them
with the socializing at preschool. I HAVE found that at 4 years
and older the playdates with other children provide a richness
in imaginative play that parents can't or usually are not as
good at providing. It can also be tiring for parents to play
dolls for 2 hours - but another child is perfectly happy to do
so. The long and short is playdates are most beneficial for
the child at 4 and older.
I have a very sociable 5-year-old in her last year of preschool.
She has an older brother who is equally outgoing and he has a
very active social life--his friends from our local elementary
school often come over to play after school or he goes over to
their houses. My poor daughter has been seeing all this social
activity and is extremely envious. She is dying to have friends over.
I have approached several parents at her preschool about
playdates. I always offer to have the child over to our house
after school or on weekends (whatever is convenient for the
parents), invite the parent to stay and chat if that's what they
would like to do. They are also free to take advantage of the
''down time'' to do stuff they need to. I never invite people over
with the expectation that they will reciprocate because we have a
lot of single parents at our preschool who work full-time. If my
daughter does get a return invite, I'm delighted but it's not
Most parents are delighted to be asked and many say yes. Some
graciously decline. I hope they don't feel put out by these
overtures but I'm only trying to accommodate my daughter's wishes
(when possible) to form friendships outside of school.
I also enjoy getting to know other parents because I work
part-time out of my home and it's very isolating because it's
just me and the computer.
I think playdates add a richness to a child's life that it's hard
to get in other ways. Kids also get to see other homes and how
other people live. It's fascinating for them. Also, we don't have
any extended family in the area so we don't have grandparents or
cousins who want to spend weekends with the kids. If we had more
family in the area, I might feel differently.
I would encourage all parents to be flexible and evaluate
playdate requests on a case-by-case basis. If you like the parent
who is asking and your child has developed a bond with their
child, it's a great way to get to know other families.
mom of sociable daughter
Ok, I had to chime in. I agree with the very last post, only,
about the purpose of a''playdate.''
My daughter is 4 1/2 y.o and didn't start having
playdates with her friends until she was almost four (before
that, she and I would get together with my friends and their
kids, but I didn't consider these playdates as the kids may or
may not have been interested in each other. In fact, I had not
even heard of playdates happening for kids before that age.) At
any rate, as the other poster stated, playdates for kids one on
one or so beneficial to their sense of creativity and
imagination, and yes they are developing relationships that can
boost their ability to socialize and function well in school. As
a parent of a child in a co-op, I often see that the kids who
have socialization outside of the school, often fair better in
school (this doesn't have to be limited to playdates, though--we
have playgroups, too), but also certainly has to do with age as
well. The 3 y.o. are still very much into playing independently
and the 4 y.o. are all about there friendships.
I, generally speaking, let my kid and her friends request the
playdates (it's not usually the parents, unless the child is
asking the parent to ask me). But this happens pretty frequently
(1 or 2 times a week) and I try to have playdates scheduled on
days that my kid is not at school, so that she gets a chance to
be social a little bit every day. I don't think it's ever too
early for kids to learn how to be friends, to learn to play
coopertively and well together, but I think it's not unusual for
kids to not have ''playdates'' before the age of four, when it
really benefits them, as the other poster stated, it's pretty
rare that a parent can sit down and play with dolls for two
hours. I don't recall what age your child is but I wouldn't worry
about not doing it too much, unless of course your child is
asking for it. But don't underestimate the value of children
playing one on one. Not only is it enriching for them emotionally
and intillectually, they are learning values, such as ''sharing''
and conflict resolution (with your guidence) that can only be
learned with practice (not just preaching) that might not get the
attention they deserve in a school environment.
Fan of Playdates
we have a 4.25 y.o. and my husband and i both work full time.
Like others, playdates don't fit into our schedule well, as we
enjoy our weekend time to do things as a family. That being
said, we have enjoyed a few playdates over the last year - i
think we are up to 8 between our house and theirs. Only a few
have been on regular weekends, most have been during breaks from
preschool(3-day weekends or weeks when school is closed). I see
value in them for a few reasons (again occasional use, not
frequent): 1. i see how my son interacts with another child, how
he shares, his response to kid-stimuli (vs. adult). 2. he plays
with toys that i never see him touch. 3. when he comes back from
someone else's house, he has observed things about others that i
really like (for ex: he tells me that so and so shared his toys
really nicely, and that they had yummy peanut butter and jelly
for lunch. Since my son NEVER eats pb and j, that made me really
happy). This provides excellent fodder for other discussions
'remember how nicely so and so shared, don't you want so and so
to feel happy when he comes to your house.'' 'remember when you
tried something new at at so and so's house/ you liked it alot!''
4) i do get a small break -though I am always around to run
interference, i can fold laundry etc. The babysitting, while not
a primary intent, is a nice side benefit. We have had play dates
with a 3 kids, mostly with one, as we have reached a stage with
the other family that I feel comfortable watching her son and
with her watching mine. the others, i will probably spend some
more time with, but eventually will leave my son unattended
there. Mostly we have playdates because my son asks to play with
one or two kids, and that friendship is important to him. at 4,
they begin to talk at school about what others are doing, and he
knows that others are having playdates. Mostly though, he really
wants to play with his best friends, and so we try to work it
into our schedules occasionally. I don't think you are alone in
not doing it, as it seems like most of the families in our
preschool our occasional p-daters like we are.
hope another perpective helps.
My 5.5 year old boy is HFA/aspergers and I myself have minimal
social skills. If I work up the nerve to call the parents of
other kids in his class, what if anything should I say to these
parent of ''typical'' kids? What sort of things should the kids
be doing on a playdate? I'm not very good at organizing
activities and such (I also have 3.5 year old girl and an
thanks in advance,
I'd like to suggest your child's teacher as a good source of
advice on this. She/he could tell you who might be good to
invite over -- who your son seems to connect with in class. You
could also ask her/him what if anything in particular might be
useful to tell the other child's parents in advance.
As for what to do, you and your son could pick out a handful of
activities in advance that might be fun to do (legos, a video,
trucks, etc.) Talk about how the guest will get to help pick
what to do. And plan with your son a fun snack -- always a key
My child just started Kindergarten in the Fall. It's an all day
program and we're extremely happy there, except for one thing:
we are constantly being bombarded with after school playdate
requests. While I am most happy that my child is well-liked and
sought after, we're a bit overwhelmed by the intensity of these
requests. When I told one parent that it probably wouldn't work
for us during the week, she cornered my sitter a few weeks later
and asked her! Personally, I think it's already a long day for
my child. To add more time on top of that seems a bit much. I
think it's important for my child to have down time after school
and on the weekends. Am I the only one who is experiencing this?
What's the most polite and clear way to say ''No thanks?''
I feel the same way you do, to an extent. My daughter gets asked for
playdates and begs me for them all the time. I just can't juggle it all. I do
relent about once a week or so. Sometimes more often if our schedules
permit. The hard part is that all the kids around her are having
playdates, bonding, and creating friendships. You might want to
compromise and pick one or two days a week that work best. That way
you won't feel like you're on your heels all the time with these requests.
You can just say that Tuesdays and Thursdays are best for you guys, or
whatever. Or, you can ask a friend of hers over so you can control the
Boy, do I hear you! We have been struggling with this for 5
years, since my son is now in the 4th grade. We decided to limit
playdates and birthday parties to one of each per week, if
possible (with some flexibility). Some of it comes down to the
fact that my son is very friendly and social, and I'm not as
extroverted as he is. Also, I'm a firm believer in down-time at
home. I think you should be able to talk to your child and come
to an agreement to balance the needs of everyone in your family.
This is the sort of stuff we talk about at our weekly family
In terms of what to say if you don't want to do a playdate, I
usually tell people we have other plans, or that this week is not
convenient for us. This is true without going into gory details.
I also have a social kindergartener. His teacher told me that
playdates are an essential part of schooling, esp during those
first years as kids grow more independent and confident.
Our son's school is only half day, which helps. I'd suggest
scheduling something once every other week, for 2 hours and
see how that goes. This isn't a long time. If he does OK, try 3
hours. Give him the chance to decide who to invite.
You don't want him feeling like he's the only (or one of the
only) kids w/out playdates.
well, i must say it's a compliment that your son is being
bombarded with playdate requests. it's a testament to other
children's liking to his personality and temperament. i find
that at this young age, playdates are often to satisfy the
social agendas of parents. so if you don't feel like you are
missing out in any way by not connecting your son with other
classmates (or their parents) then i'd only do what you are
comfortable doing! i completely agree with you that downtime
for children is one of the most important things. life is so
frenzied that quiet family time needs to be prioritized.
however, if you or your son are feeling the need to connect, a
nice way to connect is briefly at the park say, on a saturday
morning, with 2 or 3 other friends and their families. but do
as you feel comfortable. i'd say, your son is likeable
and ''popular'' because you do prioritize this quiet time in your
life as well as in his, which in turn makes him at peace with
himself and enables him to interact with his world and peers
i believe in quiet time too
I totally understand this playdate mania! It is the same at my
daughter's school and I think playdates 3-5 times per week is
too much for both of us. What I would suggest is setting aside
one day a week for playdates and telling people that ''The only
day we can really do playdates is Wednesdays. How about next
Wed.?'' And if you really don't want to do a playdate with a
particular person just say you already have plans that day.
Also I often double (or triple) up kids on a particular
playdate if I ''owe'' some playdates to several people -- I just
have them all over at the same time. It is usually mayhem, but
the kids have fun and my daughter can see all of her friends.
We had the same issue last year when our daughter was in kindergarten. Our
daughter was also in a full day kindergarten and in before/after care because my
husband and I work. We got lots of invitations for after school playdates during the
week. I always politely declined and said that we only do playdates on the weekends
and tried to set something up for a weekend instead. Apparently lots of families do
weekday playdates and I always felt like I was doing something ''wrong'' by
declining, but it's what worked best for our family. We felt that our daughter
benefited from being in aftercare and having her downtime there. Also, her school
has enrichment classes in aftercare and she definitely loves and benefits from those
classes. By the way, we don't have the issue anymore about being invited for
weekday playdates because the kids she is in 1st grade with are the same ones she
was in kindergarten with and the parents of her friends learned quickly that we
don't do weekday playdates. It's a hard position to be in when the majority of
families seem to do this, but we feel it has worked out best for our family.
I am looking for suggestions about helping my 3-year old son to
understand fairness in the face of different parenting and discipline
styles. The mother of one of his friends, with whom we have frequent
playdates, has a totally different discipline style than my own, and I think
it might be confusing him. For example, when the friend grabs toys or
doesn't share, her mom waits for her to make the decision to give back
the toy herself. This can often take a long time and leads to a lot of
anguish and waiting on the part of the ''victim.'' I have much more of a
zero tolerance policy regarding this kind of behavior, and often remove
my son from the situation when he grabs or is the agressor toward
another child. When the same consequence does not happen to his
friend for similar behavior, I worry that he must feel like it is ok for her to
do such things while it is not ok for him. (I could also be totally
projecting my own issues onto him and he might not care a jot about it
either way!) I don't have any judgment about this mother's style, but it is
making me realize that this is probably something that happens
throughout their lives; why does Johnny get to have a midnight curfew
while mine is 10:00? Why can Joe eat candy but I can't? Luckily when
they are older, you can just say, ''because that's how we do things at our
house'' or explain your reasoning with them, but with a little one who is
just figuring out how to behave socially, it's a tougher explanation. I
could say, ''Susy's mom is very upset that she grabbed that toy from you
and ruined your sandcastle, she just doesn't express her anger in the
same way I do,'' but will he really understand that? Thanks for any
thoughts on this matter.
My son at 3 understands the concept of ''different rules in different
places.'' For example, it's OK to run inside the house at home, but not at
Perhaps, if you can explain it in terms of different rules, it will be
understandable (if not enjoyable). For example, ''At our house, the rule
is if we fight over toys we have a time-out. At our friend's house the rule
is, if we fight over toys, we need to decide to give the toy back and say
we are sorry.''
I write to you not because I have a ''magic'' answer, but because
I want you to know that I almost wrote the exact same post a
I, too, am a ''zero tolerance'' parent among MANY other parents
who feel it is ok to let the kid's work it out. Just last week
my 2.5 year old waited and waited for another kid to share and
then finally came to me and said ''Mommy I'm sad. Can I have my
I found myself at a loss for words except to say, ''Mommy's
sorry, but I don't think Johnny wants to share right now.'' What
could I say if his Mom wouldn't step in and urge him to share?
Your question really isn't about how to handle the specific
situation, but more about how to explain to a child that
different families have different rules, although I'd love to
hear if people have anything specific to say about the subject
of sharing and how much parents ought to intervene(at 2 and 3
I love your point about this theme rearing its head throughout a
child's years, and I will enjoy reading the responses because I
know when I was growing up the answer was ''because we said so OR
we are not the Jones OR if Johnny jumped off a bridge would you
do it too? End of discussion...So I could definitely use some
more productive ways to generate dialogue around different
Thanks for voicing my sentiments,
In the same boat
I can definitely sympathize. Things that have worked for me in
these situations: Addressing the kid directly and good-naturedly
myself, ''Oh, it looks like you took that without asking for a
turn. Why don't you give it back and try asking for a turn when
he's done. Let's count to three and either you can give it back
or I will (or the mom).'' And then you can say in an aside to the
other mom-- ''Is that okay? (or, I hope that's okay.) I just want
___ to see a consistent approach when it's someone else on the
aggressive end.'' Also if it involves physical aggression such as
hitting or hair-pulling, I am in favor of immediately and gently
stopping it and I think any mom can understand another mom not
wanting to see her child hurt, no matter how much she wants to
give her own child space to make her own right decision. I also
think it's okay if it is a mild enough situation and you are
uncomfortable jumping in, to just let it unfold with some
commentary about it, as you have been doing-- ''It's never okay to
grab a toy. They have a different way to give back the toy than
we do, but her mommy's talking to her about it to make sure you
get it back right away.'' Anyhow, that's my two cents.
Hope it helps!
i'd suggest speaking to the parent of your child's playdate to
establish a few simple ''ground rules'' for sharing conflicts.
for instance, if my son is playing with a toy and it is taken
away, it ought to be returned to him until he is done playing)
it makes things so much easier when those rules are consistent
especiallly when you play frequently with a particular child.
it does seem awfully unfair to your child to have to share more
readily and not be shared with at the same time. if you don't
feel that is an option, maybe you could find a more suitable
litte friend for your child to play with -- one who has a parent
who is more ''hands on''. maybe a friend from preschool, who
likely understands the same consistent limits and rules as your
I was wondering if anybody knew at what age kids begin
understanding the concept of sharing? I have a one-year-old and
the one phrase I repeatedly hear at a playground is ''please
share...''. Seems that sharing has become the politically correct
thing to instruct your child to do if you want to keep your image
intact. But, after all, in the ''real world'' nobody ''shares'' just
because that's the polite thing to do. It may be unfortunate, but
this is how things work. While I agree that curtesy, friendships,
and other humanistic values should be emphasised, I am not sure
to what extent toddlers should be constantly pushed to share
things. Assuming no physical harm is done, shouldn't they learn
to fend for themselves?
I don't have great advice for dealing with this situation in
general, but one piece of advice I found useful when we had
playdates at our house - let your child decide ahead of time if
there are any items that are too ''special'' to share today. Put
those away during the playdate time, with the understanding that
toys that are out are available for your child and the guest to
play with, while the ''special'' items will be out of play during
that time. Nobody expects adults to share everything they own
(imagine an adult guest just assuming that everyting in view is
available to handle...!), yet we make the rule that a child must
share every toy. Realize that what is considered ''special'' will
change regularly, so ask each time. Sometimes, your child might
feel that EVERYTHING is ''too special'' - then you can have the
discussion about sharing with our friends, playing together with
Our 3 year old son is in a daycare center in SF from 9 a.m. to 4
p.m., 5 days a week. We also have a 9-month old son. On
weekends, we tend to lay low - catch up on housework, cook some
more interesting meals, go on outings up to Tilden or the local
tot park, and sometimes visit grandparents. My husband is
concerned that we should be organizing play dates for the older
boy on the wknds. I just can't imagine ''scheduling'' something
when getting through the routine of the day (feedings/meals,
outfits, naps, toilet time, etc.) seems like such a huge
accomplishment. Also - I feel like he gets lots of time with
friends M-F, and it's okay to just hang out as a family on the
weekends. All of this is complicated by the fact that his
daycare buddies live in SF, and we live in the East Bay. (I am
*not* willing to cross the Bay Bridge on weekends for a
playdate.) Also, the only kids we know in the East Bay are
through my Moms' Group - so the responsibility to do this would
fall on me - not Dad.
Is our kid ''missing out'' on something here by not having wknd
Your 3 year-old needs every minute of the time he can get
with you and your husband. Daycare more than covers the
''social'' aspects of his life, and even some stay home 3 year
olds don't do play dates. In time it will be important for him to
see you interact with his friends, but not yet.
I'm curious what your husband's logic is. By the way, I would
be very careful NOT to assume the role of social secretary
for your child, at your husbands request. If Dad thinks Junior
needs playdates, Dad needs to set them up. Its good
practice for staying involved with the child's life later.
I would agree with you - he has plenty of time with friends
during the week. Kids (and adults) need some ''nothing
time'', both as a family and alone.
When he's older he might want a special buddy over
occasionally, or you might meet someone who lives closer.
You didn't say what your husband's reasons were - did he
have a best friend as age 3? Does he think your son needs
You've heard it before, and you'll hear it again, but they do
grow up fast, and just hanging out with your kids while
they're still young is the best thing for everyone.
Mom of 4yr old boy
Heavens, no! Keep your precious family time! He's getting
plenty of social interaction, if he's with other kids 5 days a
It seems to me that, after daycare with his friends all week,
your son might appreciate a little down time with you and your
husband. I wouldn't get too stressed out about providing play
dates on top of that. Kids who don't attend daycare or
preschool might have more of a need for playdates but in your
situation I wouldn't worry about it at all. I don't think I
ever had them as a kid and I consider myself a well-adjusted
I think the only thing your child would be missing out on is time
with the family. You are right. He gets enough opportunity to
socialize with kids at daycare. It sounds like your husband might
have other issues like not enough alone time with you...you
mentioned a 9-month old...I imagine that you are incredably busy
with him even in the hours that your other child is home with you.
Do you have a regular ''date night'' with your husband, or even
just an hour or two each night after the kids are in bed that
the two of you are alone? You don't mention any of this so I am
wondering if this is not the problem....ask him!
I have a 5 year old and a 3 year old who are also in
daycare/school. I also stressed out about play dates when my 5
year old was younger. I came to realize that they get an
abundance of interraction and are forming bonds at daycare. On
weekends, spending some alone time with the family is enjoyed
by the kids. If you want them to have social interraction
continue to bring them to the park and other public places.
Remember, kids do need some down time - learning how to play by
themselves and relax is a skill they will also use into
adulthood. Soon the siblings will begin playing together and
the will have a built-in playdate at home. When I was a kid
Sundays were ''family days''. This did annoy me growing up but I
also have great memories of those days.
No, I think you're right about your son's weekends--he doesn't
need playdates. It sounds like his weekdays are filled with
daycare--friends, activities, a schedule...the weekends should be
down-time, with his family, in my opinion. I have a 4 and 2 year
old who are NOT in preschool or daycare, and they love having
time on the weekends to play with Daddy, who they only see for
brief periods in the mornings and evenings during the week;
they're with ME constantly--grocery shopping, going to parks,
whatever. But I love the weekends, when we're all together, just
doing ''nothing'', or being with our friends. The kids always seem
busy, just playing, alone, with each other, or with us. I think
it's very important to have that unscheduled, unstructured time
to just be together as a family, and for them to hang out with
when my brother and i were growing up, weekends were spent only with
family - i.e. with mom and dad. they both worked f/t so unless there was
a special occasion on a weekend like a bday party, we spent sat/sun's
just with mom and dad. i always thought that was special time and have
fond memories of visiting museums and parks with them. i hope to do
the same w/ my babies when thy are older since my husband and i work
Your son isn't missing out on socializing with other kids if he's
in daycare all week. Perhaps your husband feels like you're
missing out on something, but it's alot of work for something
your son really gets all day.
We're in a similar situation with our daughter, though her
buddies aren't on the other side of a bridge, and I'd never give
up my weekends for a playdate. The time is just too precious. The
one thing we do on weekends is a Gymboree session so that I can
see her socializing with other kids, but I have to admit, it's
more for me than for her, so that I can see how she interacts.
The rest of the weekend is spent playing with us at home, taking
walks, doing chores and errands. She enjoys following us around
for that kind of thing.
Just the other day our 4-yr-old told me that she likes weekends
because she gets to hang out with her moms (we are a 2-mom
family). At 3 she had no interest in playdates. Now on some
weekends she asks to have a friend over and when she's asked
over to a friend's house she usually accepts. As far as I can
tell, she found out about the playdate concept at preschool and
expressed an interest when she was ready to explore it. So my
advice would be to let your son take the lead on the playdate
For another viewpoint on the playdates issue...depending on the
child, the ''quality'' of the social time at preschool may be
different than for playdates...playdates give a child an
opportunity for uncluttered one-on-one time with another child
to maintain/start a friendship...I do these specifically to give
my child the opportunity for ''higher quality'' time with another
My son has been attending preschool for about 3 months and would
like to have play dates with a few of the kids (individually,
that is). The kids are lovely and I'm totally game - the
question is - how do I frame it with the parents? Do I ask them
to ''visit'' while our children play or do I somehow give them
options about staying or leaving? It feels a bit awkward - but
if roles were reversed, I'd rather stay and visit while my child
played in a house neither of us have been to before. I'd love
to hear how other people have experienced this. Thanks!
You said that you'd rather stay and visit with the parent(s)
while your child plays in a house neither of you have been to
before, but don't know what you're supposed to do. This is one of
those issues where your inclinations and preferences matter more
than what anyone else does. You will be presented with choices
that challenge your comfort level and experience until your child
moves out of your home. YOU must establish your own rules. You
are this child's parent. Until you know the other people well
enough to have a reason to really trust them with your precious
child, then you need to do whatever works for you. Don't worry
about whether or not they would make the same choice or if they
might not really like you if you don't just hand your kid over to
them. Your family has to come first.
A mother bear who is more protective than many - and less than others
I ask parents for a playdate and always invite them to stay.
Some do, and suprisingly some don't. I always stay for at least
the first 2 playdates (even when I'm not asked)- I like to see
the home to make sure it's safe. I like to get a sense of how
well the mom watches the children (I have heard some real horror
stories) and how she speaks to and manages the children (esp. in
I like to get to know the mom so I have a sense of the family's
values and priorities.
I also like to observe the children and their interactions, and
make sure this is a healthy friendship worth developing. If an
older sibling is around I also like to observe them and how they
get along with their brother/sister and my child.
I guess I am over protective but my child is the thing most
precious to me and I do not think it is unreasonable to make
sure she is safe on all levels.
What exactly is a playdate? Does it mean that your child goes
over to another kid's house to play (without you)? Or does it
mean that you and your child go together to another family's
house? Or does it depend on the age of the child? And how does
this work when there is a nanny involved? Is the nanny expected
to babysit for the other child for free? The reason I'm asking
is because when my neighbor says ''My little Johnnie would like a
playdate with your little Stevie'' she means that she wants to
send Johnnie (age 3) over for a couple of hours while she runs errands.
But when my little Stevie (age 2) has a ''playdate'' at her house,
I am expected to come too. I work full time, she is a stay-at-home
mom, so maybe it's something I just don't get about stay-at-home.
It depends on the children involved and their tempraments,
but for children as young as you describe I think a playdate
should always involve a parent or caregiver for each kid. My
older son, now seven, didn't start having playdates without
me until he was at least four and a half. After that, whether I
came too really depended on my level of friendship with the
other parents involved. Even now, he has a few friends with
whom, for one reason or another we have ''family'' play
dates. I have never sent my 2 year old on a play date without
me. If I'm not there it's because the other mom and I have
explicitly agreed to exchange babysitting (usually for a brief
time) and have worked out some kind of swap.
When there is a nanny involved, the nanny and his/her
employer need to reach an agreement about whether and
how often the nanny will look after another child. No one I
know pays their nanny extra for occasional playdates, but
I'm thinking of my older son's friends (I think the age of the
kids makes a huge difference -- two seven year olds playing
with legos or whatever need a very different level of
supervision than a three year old and a two year old). When
the now seven year old was in pre-school, he only had
playdates if his nanny and the other child's nanny or parent
was present. Even with older kids, the key word is
''occasional'' though. I can imagine a situation, especially
with preschool age children, where if another child was over
for frequent and lengthy periods of time, it might look more
like a babysitting share than a playdate and additional pay
for the nanny (by the other child's parent) might be
appropriate. If you are the employer, the most important
thing is to be sure that it's okay with your nanny and that s/he
doesn't feel imposed upon. On top of that, I have a very
active two year old boy and I would not want my nanny
looking after another child along with him.
It sounds like your neighbor is taking advantage of you for
some free babysitting and you need to be up front and tell
her you would prefer it if she stays to visit when her child
comes over. For the record, I spent five years as a working
mom and am now about to hit my third year as a
stay-at-home, and no, her being a stay at home mom
should not give her license to use you or your nanny as a
A playdate for me is when I take my little guy to someone's
house to play, and I stay, or when someone else comes here. In
any case, there's a parent with each child. I've never dealt
with a playdate when there's a nanny; I would assume that if you
leave a child with a nanny you pay her, and there should be an
arrangement for that.
I'm a stay-at-home that does some limited p/t work. My child is
just about two and a playdate means I come along, unless it is
explicitly stated that I'm not, and then we call it babysitting.
I do a playdate/babysitting exchange with a friend, whereas one
morning a week she watches my child with hers, and then I watch
the kids a different morning. BTW, when a friend with a nanny
has offered to take my child, it's understood that I would help
with the cost. Taking care of two children costs more than
taking care of one, and it would be unfair to expect the friend
to take on the cost. If I decide to take the kids to the zoo, or
a drop-in class, etc., I cover the cost, with the understanding
that it all evens out when my friend watches 'em. Hope this is
Playdates can be any of those things... but it sounds like your
neighbor is taking advantage of you. I would say for young
children (4 and under) it is expected for the parent to come over
and stay with the child unless the child is specifically invited
If she wants to send her child over without coming herself, she
is asking you to babysit for her. Not a problem if you're
willing and she's willing to reciprocate! If she sends her child
over and your paid nanny is there, you need to get permission
from your nanny first, and then your neighbor should pay your
nanny extra for the double babysitting time.
I don't think it has to do with her being a stay-at-home mom; I
think she is just selfish (and you are letting her get away with
mom who tries to be fair
My daughter is about to turn 4. She has been in preschool for a year now,
while I work part-time. Usually, after I pick her up from school, I take
one of her sports or dance classes. This has been very fun for her, but
thing she has been missing out on all of this time are play dates at her home
and other kids' homes. She sees kids in school, but not much after school or
out of class. I've started to realize that this seems to be unusual, and that
most of the kids in her preschool class are going to each other's houses for
play dates a lot, and I think I have been unintentionally leaving her out
I have two questions:
1) How many play dates are your 4-year olds doing, approx? One or more per
week? More or less? Has my daughter been unfairly deprived all of this time,
having only occasional play dates (one or two per month or less)?
2) What do you do on play dates at this age? My girl is a bit of a tomboy.
Going to the park is fun, but the point is to see and be in each other's
How do you keep two kids at this active, smart age engaged for two hours in
I appreciate your recommendations!
A well-intending mom
Please don't worry about this issue. I can assure you that as she
gets older, she'll start asking if she can go over to other kid's
houses or if she can have so-and-so over to her house. You've
got plenty of time.
In my experience, playdates at this age serve 2 purposes:
(1) socialization skills for the kids--If a child is having
difficulty getting along with the other kids in preschool,
sometimes having a closer relationship with another child helps
to ''break the ice''.
(2) socialization for lonely moms--I am the full-time mom of 2
and am sometimes starved for adult conversation so occasionally
plan outings with other moms and their kids so I will have
another grownup to talk with while my son or daughter play with
the other kids.
You are already juggling working part-time, getting to and from
preschool plus sports and dance classes so give yourself a pat on
the back for the terrific job you are doing and don't worry about
i have a four year old boy and is in pre school five morning a
week, he will have a playdate if lucky probably every 2nd week,
he goes to gymnastics, and karete and a french class
there is not much time and we do the park on weekends
If your child is deprived, mine is too. He hasn't had very many
playdates bcs I am at work in the afternoons. Although I would
be happy to have kids from his preschool over to play, I don't
think other moms really want to ''play'' with my sitter, so I
haven't asked any. No one has invited him over to their house
either. He asks to go over to other kids' houses but I don't
feel like I can call up other moms and ask if he can come to
play at their house! I am assuming that the problem will solve
itself when he gets older and he and his friends are more
independent, so the fact that I don't have mom friends won't
preclude him from having a social life. I hope so, anyway!
Our daughter (who recently turned 5) does 1 or 2 playdates a week. I feel like
it;s the playdates that really got her stated on learning how to make friends
and be a friend. I found the kids mostly entertain themselves, but when it
looked like they needed some adult guidance, I'd suggest we all (me included)
make cookies, do an art project, or play a board game like shoots and ladders.
She's also a 'tomboy', and pretty wild. With some kids a trip to the
park worked well, but only if they had similar energy levels. Another super fun
activity was to throw them in the bath tub (great after a messy outdoor
and give them plenty of bath toys.
I suspect there is quite a range in the number of playdates at
this age. I think to a large extent it depends on the child.
Some children seem to thrive on a lot of social activity, while
for others school is plenty and what they need is down time
alone at home. Don't think that just because other kids may
have been on playdates that you have been depriving your child.
I'm sure that the time and attention she has received from you
have been wonderful for her. You might find you get different
answers from moms who work outside of the home and from those
who don't. Because I work full time, my nanny is always looking
for ways to amuse the kids. And it is more fun for her to get
together with another nanny. That is not to say that SAHMs
don't have similar arrangements. I just suspect that many have
very full days and may not have as much time to run around to
other people's houses. With all that said (which doesn't really
answer your question :-) ), I can tell you that my four-year-old
daughter attends preschool four days a week and probably has 3-4
playdates during the week, plus 1-2 on the weekends (with me).
I have no idea if this is typical; I do know that if I haven't
planned anything for the weekend, she will whine and complain.
She seems to crave a lot of time with her friends. Some of
those playdates are at our house (we have a backyard for running
around), some are at the park, some are places like the Zoo (we
are members, so we go a lot). At home, the kids play dress-
up/pretend a lot, play with our dollhouse, or just run around.
It doesn't seem hard at all to keep them occupied, in fact at
this age it is easier to entertain two than one. And with kids
they know, in houses they know, four is old enough to have ''drop
off'' dates. You can then take turns with another mom and get a
break for yourself. Of course, many of my friends have kids the
same age as my daughter and I look forward to her playdates as
social time for me!
My four year old daughter normally loves to go to other kids'
houses to play. But one day after going to a certain school
mate's house, my daughter told me that she felt ''nervous'' there
and didn't want to go again. When I asked for specifics, she
said that her friend wanted her to unroll the toilet paper and
she thought she was going to get in trouble. Since normally,
unrolling the toilet paper all over the bathroom would not be
something my daughter would be adverse to, I think it must be
more than this. Since that first time, the mother has called
repeatedly and asked if my daughter would come over and play
again. My daughter still refuses to go and frankly, I don't
want her to considering her feelings. But I don't know what to
say to the other mother. I don't want to keep lying and telling
her my daugher is busy which I have said so far. I can't tell
the mother that my daughter doesn't like play dates because the
mother see's my daughter going to other kid's houses to play.
But I feel like telling her the truth will really hurt her
feelings and since I don't really have specifics, I don't know
how helpful it will be to her to hear about my daughter's
reluctance to play at her house. My daughter likes the other
girl to play at our house, but doesn't want to to to her house.
Does anyone have any advice for me? I think I am looking for a
solution that can be helpful to both of us and I'm not sure what
If I were the other mom, I wouldn't mind at all if you
approached me in a very gentle, concerned fashion to explain
that your daughter has said she is nerbous about going over to
my house. You could explain that you haven't figured out any
concrete reason, although I wouldn't hesitate to ask her if any
thing may have happened to make your daughter nervous. THen
perhaps you could do playdates with the mom and the other girl
away from their house - at a playground for example, where you
can really see how they both interact with your daughter. If
that goes well, then maybe leaving the playground to have a
snack at their house with you there will help your daughter feel
more comfortable or help you figure out why she might feel
uncomfortable. At least you would develop a closer relationship
with this school friend and her family by being a part of the
playdate. As the other mom, I wouldn't feel offended at all if
you asked to come along, especially if you explained that your
daughter had asked you to join her.
I would definitely just be honest with the mother. Let her know
that your daughter is reluctant for some reason to go back to
her house and ask if she can remember anything that may be the
cause of this - not in accusatory way, just in a ''I don't
understand this, do you?'' way. If she can think of a possible
reason, then you can address this directly with your child and
perhaps help her get past it. If not, then at least you will not
regularly be forced to make up some excuse when she invites your
daughter over. I am quite sure that I would rather you were
honest with me if the roles were reversed.
If your daughter likes the other child, you can honor her
request not to go to the house alone by either going with her or
suggesting that you meet the other child and/or parent on some
neutral ground, like at a park, for a hike or other activity
outside of the house. I have never run into a situation where
my child specifically asked not to go to someone's house, but I
do have houses I am less comfortable with because of pets,
problems with sharing and territoriality etc and I find
this ''neutral ground'' solution helpful in preserving the
friendship but eliminating some of the problems.
My son is 3 (I don't know how much of a difference age will
play in this situation), but he will come home and say, ''X
isn't my friend anymore,'' or ''Y isn't my friend anymore.'' It
changes constantly, but most of the time it isn't a serious
rift, although he does seem to say he doesn't like to play with
one preschool classmate more often than not. I don't think you
would be compromising yourself and I wouldn't think the mother
would be devastated if you simply say that your child has said
she is not interested in playing with her daughter. You can be
light about this if you say that you've heard that a lot of
kids go through this phase and you're sure she'll grow out of
it, but until then you're just honoring her request. I know
that if a mother told me that about my son, I'd totally
understand because when I pick my son up at preschool in the
afternoons I hang around for a while and watch the dynamics
between the kids. My son and another girl are quite close, but
as her mother observed, they have a ''love/hate'' relationship. I
think the mother's reaction will be helped by a cheerful
delivery. I hope that helps!
Why not just be honest with the friend's mother? You don't really know
what made your daughter feel uncomfortable but I would trust your
daughter's instincts. It is not offensive to tell a grown-up that a 4 year old
is feeling uneasy about being in someone else's house. If the mother is
OK with her daughter visiting your home and your daughter actually
wants to play with this girl, then you have nothing to lose. If the mother
does take offense, you still have nothing to lose - what kind of friendship
is that if she can't be sensitive to a four year old's feelings or concerns?
I'm wondering if it would be a solution for you to go with your
four year old to the play date and stay while she plays (either
for the whole time, or at least to get her started). My, now 5
year old, is often reluctant to go to people's houses by
herself, and to know that I am there makes it fun for her.
She has the security of having Mom in the house, should
she need her, and she can play with her friend. I always
explain that this is something my daughter needs, and I tell
the hostess mother that she doesn't need to entertain me (I
can bring a book). This is perhaps for different reasons
than your daughter, but I think it is not at all unusual for a
four year old to become reluctant for some (unknown)
reason. Hopefully with some of your joint visits (If you think
this would help) she would feel comfortable again going
there alone. I would explain to the other mother what is
going on. I'm not sure why you think it would hurt her
feelings. Most likely it has nothing to do with the mother,
would be able to understand that something is going on
with your daughter (a phase?) and that you are trying to find
ways to overcome it.
Our son is in the second grade and has been feeling very down
because his best friend in school and another friend have been
excluding him, being mean to him (verbally), and have been doing
some very passive-aggressive stuff. One boy in particular seems to
be the ring-leader, and the other boy simply goes along with it.
Our son does not even want to go to school now, because of his
fear of what is going to happen each day. The problem is that the
ring-leader's mom wants her son to play with my son outside of
school, wants them to be friends, and has even arranged play-dates
for them. I have told her, gently, what has been going on, and
she always has an excuse as to why her son acts this way, and
thinks my son should ''understand.'' Do I tell her flat-out that my
son does not want to have a playdate with her son and to quit
asking? Our kids go to a small school in Berkeley, and I don't
want things to be uncomfortable with the parents, but my son
really does not want to go to this boy's house or to have
playdates with him. The mother has started asking when they can
get together. Is honesty really the best policy?
I would tell the mother of the bully that your son will have a
play date with her son when he starts treating him like a
friend. This is your son's social life, not yours. He shouldn't
have to have play dates with people he doesn't like because you
want to get along with the other parents. I'm sure you can tell
her in a friendly and straight forward way that her son isn't
very nice to your son and he doesn't want a play date. I would
also tell the teacher. If he has a good teacher, she can address
issues of friendship and respect in the class without
pinpointing anyone. I was a teacher for 15 years and I know that
a teacher can influence what children consider to be valuable
characteristics in themselves and others.
I haven't seen anything in the web log concerning this issue.
My elementary-aged child is reasonably popular, and is
invited to lots of playdates and birthday parties. I find that
our social schedule pretty much revolves around him and
his various lessons, playdates, and parties. I want him to
have a good time with his friends, but I feel like his
schedule is too much for our family! My partner and I both
work, and our lives feel so hectic. I feel bad because my
younger child is getting short shrift in terms of lessons and
playdates, but I hate to add yet another child's events to our
incredibly busy family schedule. Both kids go to school, so
they see other kids then, and they play well together, and
have a standing playdate once a week with a good family
Many of the folks who invite my kids have only children, and
only one of my children is invited to their house. I feel it is
important to reciprocate playdates. What this means is that
when their child comes to our house, they have free
babysitting, whereas when my child goes to the other
house, I have to entertain my other child.
Please don't get me wrong: I want my children to have
healthy social lives with other children! But nowadays
playdates involve driving kids across town, coordinating
schedules, etc. I really want to simplify our lives. I've already
limited each child to one birthday party per weekend. What
do others feel is a reasonable number of playdates per
week? And do folks have nice ways of expressing this
when turning down invitations? I would really appreciate
hearing from others about how you balance your families'
We too had this problem and felt that our kids' social life was
starting to impact our family life! Birthday parties every
weekend was just too much for all of us. We came to the decision
that there is such a thing as too much of a good thing. We
realized that it is okay to say no and have since begun limiting
birthday party attendance unless it is a good friend. We had our
first birthday partyless/playdate w/e and it was fun.
That's just wonderful that your children are so socially accepted
and you have more than enough playdates and parties to go to. The
difficult part is just where to draw the line on whose party or
playdate to go to without hurting the feelings of those whose
invitations you have to decline. I don't have this situation most
of the time about too many playdates or parties. Because of that,
we always accept party invitations unless we have a previous
One part of your letter I need to address is your slightly
resentful feeling that it is inequitable to have one of your two
children away at a playdate while you have to entertain your
other child. You say that many of your son's friends are only
children so that means the other parents are child free and get
''free babysitting'' when you take their child. It feels that way,
but it is in fact equitable since it's a one on one trade of
playdates; you just happen to have one more kid than they. It
would be nice if both of your kids could go, but that playdate is
primarily time for those two friends to spend. Perhaps you can
arrange a simultaneous playdate for your other child, get a
sitter for him or just look at it as a way for one on one time. I
used to feel similar to you. I have three kids, so just having
less kids around is a break enough. Also, it's often easier when
a playdate friend over. While the kids are playing together, I
could do a little something (clean house, cook meal, read, watch
The number of playdates depends on the child. Some can have
playdates every day. Others need some down time between parties
and friends. Sounds like you need less while you kids are fine
with lots of social activity. Could that also be differences in
parent and child personalities? For example, my friend, who is
shy, has a very outgoing daughter. I hope that you can find that
balance of time for your family.
I have a nine-year-old boy who likes to have friends over. Unfortunately,
many of the families of his friends are very busy and we end up getting
shafted at the last minute (thinking we have a play date arranged, then the
kids can't make it). My boy is an only child and is crushed when this
happens. And this happens a lot. I am wondering what else is going on.
When his friends are over, they seem to get along just fine.
For me, I am aghast. I would think that parents would love to have a
standing Sunday afternoon babysitter (which is what I am offering -- up to
three hours on a Sunday afternoon). My boy has video games and toys, and
there are parks nearby where I can take them. What I get out of this is a
happier kid. What the other parents get is some free time. I don't even
ask for reciprocation. So why don't they bite? Am I nuts?
Anyone have any ideas? I usually use the time on Sunday when my boy does
have a friend over to just do my chores around the house, so I am there if
they need me, but not in their hair.
Looking forward to your advice.
This is a response to Carol, who expressed dismay at the many
play dates which are broken at the last minute. I think this is simply a
reflection of the times. A play date which is arranged on Thursday is very
likely to be cancelled on Sunday when the family spontaneously decides to
go somewhere. I don't think it's anything personal--Sunday may be the
only day when the family can do things together. If play dates were
arranged for an afternoon during the week, this probably would not happen
I know this must be tough for an only child. I have a friend (in her
40's) who is an only child. She still cries whenever visitors have to
leave (though she waits until after they've gone).
Try offering yourself as a free babysitting service in the evening--I'll
bet lots of parents would take you up on that one--trouble is, you might
end up with 3 or 4 kids to watch instead of just 2.
Hope this helps.
First, I am also a single parent with a single child and we went through
something very like this the first year or so my son was in school.
Specifically, his best friend had to start wearing glasses, but kept
losing them. At least three times, in a row, we were all set to have
this kid over to spend Friday night with us, had all sorts of things
planned, when the kid lost his glasses on Friday and for punishment his
family cancelled the overnight (which also punished my son). My son
was crushed and I was pretty disappointed too. Other times we have
tried to set up dates with other kids from school, only to have them
not show up, or not return calls or something.
My only advice is you have to keep trying and you will eventually
find at least one or two families that are reliable in this regard,
hopefully with kids your kid wants to play with. For these other
unreliable folks, you will be lucky if you can get most of those kids to
show up for your son's birthday party. I guess some people are
just far more casual about this than others. In general, other
families with just one kid are usually looking for a break and
will be more dependable about showing up. When there are many
kids in a family, the parents have many more demands on their time,
including just chauffering the kids around, and they don't
get that much of a break, anyway, with just one kid being gone.
I suspect at least part of the problem you're having may be related to your
offer being "for up to three hours." While I make every effort to get my
kids to all parties, visits, & whatevers, with three kids going in a
multitude of directions every weekend it can be very difficult to make all
the connections work. One of the things that makes this particularly
difficult is short windows for any one activity--including 2-3 hour
birthday parties & play sessions. You may find other parents more
appreciative of the free babysitting if you were to stretch out the play
sessions to a whole afternoon, say 12:00 to 5:00. This would give the
other parents more time to actually put the free time to good use.
Another thing I've noticed is that kids sometimes just loose enthusiasm for
visiting a particular friend or going on visits in general. Regretfully,
many kids don't seem to understand that they can say no when the invitation
is issued, so they say yes but balk when it comes time to go. My daughter
went through a phase like this that was a real problem until we changed the
way we deal with invitations: we no longer discuss the invitation with the
other party on the phone, which created pressure on my daughter to say yes
even if she wasn't interested. We now get off the phone, discuss it for a
few minutes, and call right back with an answer. Maybe you could work in a
suggestion to this effect when making the invitation, particularly to those
families that have disappointed before?
One big benefit to having older kids is they can get to their friends'
houses on their own and you don't have to negotiate with the
adults. Here are my thoughts:
For working parents, Sunday may be the only day they have together
with their kids. Saturdays are errands and chores. So Sundays if the
weather is nice parents might plan an outing at the last minute
despite previous plans. I don't want to say I'd cancel out a planned
play date at the last minute; I'd probably invite the playmate to come
along too, but doing something with the family takes precedence over
doing something with friends.
2. Flakey parents and chaotic schedules
My kid's best friend K-3 was a really sweet kid with a really sweet
incredibly flakey mom. She would "space out" play dates about half the
time. Or she and her husband would get mixed up about who was coming
to pick up the kid. It would be 3 or 4 hours after the agreed upon
time and they'd both be unreachable, off running errands thinking the
other one was coming to get little X. They had 3 kids though, all of
whom had 8 or 10 outside activities so the parents were forever
driving kids around all over town. It's a wonder they never lost any
Maybe you just have to bite the bullet and wait till your son hooks up
with a buddy who has more reliable parents. Or maybe you can find a
parent you like and then "create" a friendship between the 2 kids.
To Carol who was having trouble with play dates getting broken:
For me, I work alot during the week and attend various meetings
and activities on weeknights. We (mother, father and 2 yr old brother)
want to spend time with my 7 yr old on the weekends as much as his
friends do. Saturdays he tends to go to a friend's or have one over
but Sundays are our 'family day' where we usually expect him to hang
out with us unless something special (i.e., birthday party) is happening.
If people are saying yes to a playdate and then breaking it later, maybe
you are coming on too strong when asking and they feel they can't say no.
Also, whenever my son goes to a friend's house, they usually are very
appreciate and thank my son for coming to play, they don't make it seem
that they are doing me a favor. Maybe your son just happens to have friends
with very busy parents or tends to pick out the popular kids to ask over.
Try finding a kid that's new to the area/school or one that doesn't have
as many friends. Good Luck.
I am really sorry to hear about your son's friends not keeping
their play dates at the last minute.
1. Try to invite friends who are also the only child in their
family -- their parents are usually more eager to have a playmate for
their kid and therefore will be more willing to shuffle their
2. Try to avoid weekends. When both parents work, weekends is
about the only time the families can do things together.
Sometimes it is hard to work the schedules around a date.
However, I must say if a parent makes a date for a child,
he/should keep it, or at least not wait until the last minute to
cancel it. A better time to invite friends over would be on
weekdays right after school.
I have two children myself, and both my husband and I work. I
only invite friends over for my kids during holdiay breaks. And,
when I do it, I have to invite one for each kid, otherwise the
one without a friend will feel left out. There is quite a bit of
logistics involved. Usually, those kids who have no siblings are
I hope this helps.
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