Playdate conundrum
December 1, 2012 2:02 PM   Subscribe

My Son (Oliver, 8) goes to school. He has regular playdates and the occasional sleepover with other kids from his class. One of the children from his class is the child of a local politician, his name is Thomas. Oliver and Thomas are friends, but Oliver is friends with many other kids and some of whom he would prefer. Sometimes Thomas can be a difficult kid, not exactly sure what his status is, but he has more needs than most kids. With that said, he is only 8 and not a bad kid, quite polite. We have had drinks with Thomas's parents before and it was nice, however I made sure to avoid any political conversations as the father is the elected local representative of a party I find ... unappealing. I know the mother more than the father and we get along fine.

With me so far...

Recently, our local politician (Thomas's father) has voted for in favour of some legislative items that I find _really_ _really_ _really_ offensive. The legislation involve exploring/updating the definition of when life begins in the criminal code. I cannot get over it. I am very pissed off at our local politician for voting this way, it was a free vote (not along party lines). I mean I am always pissed at the party he represents, but somehow I can look past it in his case. This being a free vote, well I cannot get passed it and at some point, its going to come out. I have written letters in the past, but have stopped over the last 3 years ... partly because of Thomas's and Oliver's relationship

Recently, Thomas's mother has been trying to organize a playdate/sleepover, which they have had before, couple times here couple of times there. My son is ambivalent about spending time with Thomas. If he had to choose, he would likely pick another kid to have a playdate with, but he would also like to have a playdate with Thomas ... he is permissive that way. Anyone, anytime.

So I hope you see were this is going, because my question(s) are kinda still jumbled in my mind..

Given that I basically control my son's social agenda, why would I steer him in the direction of people that I probably would not want to hang around with? Restated, why would I invest that energy when I can foster other social groups for him (and ultimately us). I dont think Oliver would care one way or another. However, I worry that it is not necessarily fair to Thomas (who really likes Oliver). Currently, I have been avoiding the situation, "sorry, so busy". Should I just come out and let Thomas's mom know what I am doing/thinking. Am I being too shallow? Grit my teeth.

This has been gnawing at me for a while, thoughts?
posted by njk to Human Relations (40 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
Very short: I have let my daughter sleep over at families with (to me) really offensive life-styles. And stuff has happened. I was shocked. But it was not criminal, and what I want to say is: the knowledge that some families are different and have different opinions and/or lifestyles has made my now teenage daughter a better person. And she has never once swayed from the values we have tried to give her.
posted by mumimor at 2:07 PM on December 1, 2012 [22 favorites]

The only time I ever refused to allow my son to go to a playdate was when the father of the friend was part of the legal team the prosecuted a former member of Scientology on behalf of the cult. My kid could see the other kid at school, at sports practice, but my son was never going to set foot in that house. On retrospect, I think I was making a point at my kid's expense. His friend wasn't party to his father's actions, had no say in those actions, and was unfairly "punished" by me, so I could feel self-righteous and justified. The sins of the father are not passed on to the son, but I chose to ignore that. You might profit from my mistake.
posted by Ideefixe at 2:09 PM on December 1, 2012 [4 favorites]

why would I steer him in the direction of people that I probably would not want to hang around with?

Well, wait. It doesn't sound like you're "steering" him in any particular direction, here. Thomas is a friend from school or the neighborhood or scouts or whatever, and you don't happen to enjoy Thomas' parents, but your son likes him, so you facilitate him hanging out with Thomas.

My parents are a lot younger than the parents of most of my peers, and they have very different interests from said other parents. This was very pronounced when I was your son's age, because my parents were in their 20's while most of the neighborhood parents of elementary schoolers were in their 30's or even 40's. A lot of parents in my community were extremely opposed to my parents' beliefs, interests, professional goals, etc. for generational reasons as well as other totally random reasons (we're political outliers in our area, of a minority religious group, don't participate in some activities that are considered of prime social importance where I grew up, etc).

And yet my parents let me make friends under my own steam, regardless of their opinions of my friends' parents. And my friends' parents let them make friends with me, despite my godless heathen irresponsible libertine family of origin.
posted by Sara C. at 2:17 PM on December 1, 2012 [3 favorites]

Just be certain there will be no political discussions or "lessons" of any kind. I'd call up the father and ask for a "man-to-man" talk. Explain that you have very different values than him but that you don't think it should get in the way of any friendship that your child might have with his son. However you want to be certain that there will be no discussions of politics, morality or religion in the home by the parents while he is there. Explain that you have a policy of not doing that yourself. A no bullshit conversation.
posted by Ironmouth at 2:21 PM on December 1, 2012 [11 favorites]

At 8, I would really let your son take the lead in this. If he asks to have Thomas over, arrange a play date. If Oliver wants to go over to Thomas' house for a play date, let it happen. It sounds like Thomas is basically a nice kid, and it's not his fault his father holds political views you disagree with. In a few years you aren't going to have a lot of sway in this arena, so you might as well start letting up on the reins a bit.
posted by ambrosia at 2:24 PM on December 1, 2012 [7 favorites]

Leave Thomas' parents political beliefs out of it at this stage. On the off chance that Oliver comes home with questions about when life begins, you will have a wonderful opportunity to discuss the issue and reinforce your own beliefs. They are just kids. Let Oliver decide whether or not he wants to have a sleepover with Thomas.
posted by ThatCanadianGirl at 2:26 PM on December 1, 2012 [3 favorites]

If your kid isn't that into Thomas, save yourself the stress and be done with that family. It's not a punishment so much as it is a contribution to your sanity.

If your kid and Thomas were best friends forever I would say suck it up, but they're not. They'll both be fine, and your ability to relax when your kid is at sleepovers/playdates is important.
posted by the young rope-rider at 2:37 PM on December 1, 2012 [7 favorites]

If you can't relax at the thought of your child having playdates in the home of someone who has different political beliefs from you, you are setting yourself up for an extremely stressful next decade or two.
posted by Sara C. at 2:43 PM on December 1, 2012 [28 favorites]

Send Oliver to play dates and vote against the guy next chance you get. I would not stop acting on your own political agenda. If you tend to write letters, write them. If you protest, protest.

(I know the teenage son of a local politician and I would bet big money he would vote against his parent if he was old enough. An 8 year old should have no repercussions for his father's political votes.)
posted by JohnnyGunn at 3:00 PM on December 1, 2012 [3 favorites]

Ironmouth: "Just be certain there will be no political discussions or "lessons" of any kind. "

I don't think this is necessary at the beginning. Just explain to your son that if he has any questions about what might be said at someone else's house (anyone, not just this family), then he is welcome to ask you about it. If you eventually find that it's a constant stream of inappropriate (to you) messages, it might be time for a phone call.

My kid used to go to Sunday church with her friend's family, if she happened to stay overnight the night before. It grated my nerves a little, but it also opened up some lines of communication between my daughter and I. She would ask questions, and I would try to explain my position.

My therapist used to say that no one has more influence over your child's value system than you do, and exposing them to the occasional other points of view (like the above mentioned trips to church), was not going to turn my kid into Opposite Me.
posted by SuperSquirrel at 3:01 PM on December 1, 2012 [4 favorites]

I was going to answer that, looking back on my elementary school friends, their parents' political beliefs were mostly quite conservative. They weren't elected officials, but if they had been, they'd mostly have been casting anti-choice votes (etc.). But it never rubbed off on me, and by the time I was in high school I was the local feminist anarcho-pacifist. Your kid will be fine.

However, you don't actually say that you're concerned about Oliver getting influenced by the family. Instead, it sounds more like you're wanting to make a point about the father's vote, and also trying to avoid interacting with him yourself.

Both of those aims are compatible with giving Oliver the freedom to be friends with Thomas if he wants. You can make a point about the father's vote through ordinary political advocacy, and you can stop having drinks with him and seeing the parents socially. At the same time, you can permit Oliver to go over there, and let Thomas come to your place. If Thomas' parents find it weird that you're politically opposed to them but are still willing to have Oliver and Thomas be friends, then that's their problem and the ball's in their court.
posted by Beardman at 3:04 PM on December 1, 2012

i was raised mormon in an area that was pretty evenly split between evangelicals and hippies. around 8 years old is when i started realizing i wasn't invited to any play dates or sleepovers that didn't originate from my church. i didn't go to school with any of my church friends. i had school friends (publicly and hurtfully) tell me we couldn't be friends because their parents didn't want them around "that kid in a cult." i was told by kids that my parents probably sacrificed babies in the temple. the religion of my parents was used as an excuse to bully me. my childhood was a pretty big (lonely) echo chamber of us vs. them and some of that was due to parents poisoning their kids against me.

please keep in mind that this is a kid who has no control over what his parents do or believe. by holding him responsible for their actions, you are shrinking the pool of people he interacts with who might one day help him see that his parents are wrong about some things.
posted by nadawi at 3:06 PM on December 1, 2012 [67 favorites]

There is no way Thomas's dad is going to sit them down and start talking to them about Political XZY. His political beliefs are not going to infiltrate this sleepover, in part because little kids generally find politics to be super boring. Even if they did, your kid is going to learn at some point that people don't always agree, and it's a valuable skill to respect and get along with people whose views differ from yours, anyway. How would you feel if the shoe was on the other foot, and people weren't letting their kids play with Oliver because they thought you were too liberal (or whatever)? Let the kids enjoy themselves -- who's to say that Thomas won't grow up to share your views, anyway?

That being said, YOU don't have to socialize with the parents beyond being civil, and you should of course vote for whomever you want, and write whatever letters you want. But making a statement about your politics via your kid's social life isn't going to be very productive.
posted by Countess Sandwich at 3:08 PM on December 1, 2012 [3 favorites]

There is no way Thomas's dad is going to sit them down and start talking to them about Political XZY. His political beliefs are not going to infiltrate this sleepover . . .

I'm not so sure about that. It could happen. When I was a kid of 8 or so, I stayed over with a kid whose dad was a Baptist minister. I had to have family Bible study hour with them in the morning. This was a total surprise, and I hope I didn't let anyone know how grim I found it. (I'd like to say that my friend grew up to be a rebel, but she's an evangelical homeschooler herself now, so.)

Nevertheless, I am strongly in favor of letting this friendship play out, simply on principle.
posted by Countess Elena at 3:22 PM on December 1, 2012

As a refinedment, I am not too worried about 'political conversion'. I am pretty comfortable with my son's values,we have a good and talkative relationship. Up until now, Thomas's mother would call me and organize a playdate / sleeover. Although they would be excited by the playdate, it was organized by the parents. I would make a unilateral decision and book Oliver's day. Now, I am less entusiastic about making (or more specifically agreeing to) those arrangments.
posted by njk at 3:39 PM on December 1, 2012 [1 favorite]

My friends had primarily liberal beliefs, and I was definitely exposed to them even without purposeful indoctrination because people mention things here or there or talk about what's on the news or their day at work. Who's to say one of them won't briefly mention all the little baby souls in heaven, or how sad it is that some women don't give their babies a chance to don't know.

If they were the type to be inconspicuous about their beliefs, you wouldn't already know about those beliefs. I have parent friends whose political beliefs I know absolutely nothing about, because they're circumspect. Then there are the parents I know who write editorials and books about their beliefs. They mention them frequently because they make up a huge part of their work life. Thomas' parents seem much more like the latter type, and yes, that would stress me out if I were sending my kid over there. It would also stress me out to have to interact politely with someone who was so willing to vote to make me a criminal, and it obviously stresses you out to have to deal with them after knowing about this vote.

I don't think there's any great moral good to be achieved by making tight-lipped smiles at people who would take away the civil rights of half of the population so your kid can have a playdate with one of many friends who he will hardly remember in 10 years, but that's just me.
posted by the young rope-rider at 3:41 PM on December 1, 2012 [4 favorites]

What I recommend you do is unabashedly and fearlessly explain to them your beliefs, and explain the reasons you find their beliefs reprehensible. Let them know that you respect their authority over the way they want to raise their child, but not to be alarmed if your son says things to their son that are not in accordance with their worldview. Set the boundary that they are not allowed to push their worldview upon your child, and you will extend the same courtesy to them.

You gotta set boundaries here.
posted by roboton666 at 3:55 PM on December 1, 2012 [1 favorite]

Why not just insist that the sleepovers be at your house for now? You don't have to go into details - just say, "That's how I'd prefer it for now, let me know if that works for you and Thomas."

You're a parent but you're also a person. There's really no overwhelming need to subject yourself to intense intimate conversations with folks who are actively pursuing political goals this far away from your own beliefs. You don't have to isolate or belittle Thomas, but you also don't have to put your kid in such an awkward situation for the sake of being nice.
posted by barnone at 4:02 PM on December 1, 2012 [3 favorites]

These are kids. Politics are for grownups.

You letting your child play with this child does not mean you agree in any way shape or form with the adult's politics. Don't punish the other child because you dislike his father's political beliefs.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 4:04 PM on December 1, 2012 [7 favorites]

Would the situation be different if Thomas' father wasn't a politician, but just sort of loud-mouthed about his politics?

Because, again, I'll reiterate that a lot of kids grow up playing with kids whose parents have repellent political stances -- even obnoxiously in-your-face ones -- and turn out just fine.

I think if your kid actively doesn't want to play with Thomas and it would be you convincing him to go over there, well, of course not. But if he is invited and is down with going over, why not? "Because Thomas' dad believes something ridiculous" is not a very good reason, unless you think that by sending the kid over there you are going to get roped into hanging out with Thomas' dad.
posted by Sara C. at 4:12 PM on December 1, 2012 [1 favorite]

It's conceivable that as Oliver gets older, and maybe gets to be more like you, or at least desire to be so, he might be over at Thomas's and try to bait T's dad while he's around. He's probably a bit young for it now, but in the coming years, I'd watch out for that-- he may not realize the sort of fire that talk plays with, and he also may not realize how alienating it could be for Thomas. I advise you to think about what you let slip about T's dad when O's around.

Otherwise I'm with Ironmouth. I do agree that there's not likely to be a lot of indoctrination going on-- this is a sleepover-- parents are tolerated only as long as the food keeps coming. And while a candid talk like Ironmouth recommends may be overkill, the politician in question is a grown man who is certainly aware that not everyone agrees with him, and that he can respect that other people are the parents of their own children.
posted by Sunburnt at 4:34 PM on December 1, 2012

This is not a question about Thomas. Look at the number of words you wrote about him, and the number of words you wrote about the other kid's father's politics.

Is the man likely to spend the night indoctrinizing your child in any belief whatsoever? That would be fucked up, even if it was your exact world view.

If it's a sleepover, where the principle influence will be how much pop your kid is allowed to drink (when you don't allow him to at home), or if he might stay up a bit later than usual, fukkit, it's a special event.

If your kid DOES NOT want to go, don't force him. If he kinda sorta doesn't know, flip a coin. If he wants to go, and you're emphasizing his ambivalence because of YOUR view of the other kid's parents' views... stop that.

This isn't about politics. This about kids having a party. Focus on what's really the issue here. Your politics aren't. The other kid's father's probably aren't.
posted by IAmBroom at 4:36 PM on December 1, 2012 [5 favorites]

Jesus, this sounds horrible. If you want to raise a son who is unable to interact with people with politics different from their own having never learned how, then this would indeed be an effective way to do it. Don't grit your teeth, be glad that your son has the incredible opportunity to be around a culture that is different from your own that they can learn from and know in a directly human way. Your son just might be able to see at least some conservative people as human beings rather than the caricatures you seem to currently see. This is a good thing and, if it helps you to feel any better it, the essence of liberalism.

Yes you are indeed being shallow. Kids are incredible sponges for adsorbing the asshole behaviors of the adults around them, please listen to nadawi and don't teach your son that it is ok to shun people based on the political beliefs of their parents - much less lecture neighbors in the insecure and condescendingly pathetic ways being suggested here. Besides these parents are excited about hosting the son of a no doubt already conspicuously liberal mefite, why shove that in their faces?
posted by Blasdelb at 4:37 PM on December 1, 2012 [8 favorites]

Also, I really hope that if you were to ever host Thomas at a sleep-over party that he would not be in any danger of the indoctrination fears being projected on to these parents, beyond of course having the chance to realize that liberals are people too who are also kind, loving, generous folks as well as similarly excellent role models.
posted by Blasdelb at 4:42 PM on December 1, 2012

Personally, I wish my parents had protected me from my friendship with the daughter of a conservative right wing nut. If they had, then I would not have been in a situation where I felt like I had to defend my mother's life choices (working outside the home) and my father's unemployment.

I also would not have been had to hear myself referred to as a dyke nigger when I was 12, over their house, and playing hide and go seek with their kid. Apparrently, they liked my family as little as my family liked them, and while no one would EVER have said that to my face (they always made me feel welcome -- when I was home alone during a blizzard I walked to their house and that's a really positive memory for me), it was a really hurtful lesson in understanding that when people espouse a politics of hate towards women, people of color, etc., they do in fact mean the women, POC, etc they know and who their kids are friends with.

Honestly, that one memory, and the feeling of anger, embarassment, and shame that suffused my body, is what I mostly remember about that family and my friendship with that kid. That one experience (where I realized they considered me less than human, and my dad less than human, and my mom less than human) erased every other memory of them. The only reason I remember the blizzard thing is because my mom specifically brought it up a few days ago, because she was asking me if I had ever been mad at her for being a working mom.

TLDR: Yeah, this isn't the same as taxes. If a family is anti-basic human rights, my kid is not playing with their kid.
posted by spunweb at 5:18 PM on December 1, 2012 [15 favorites]

I agree with most of the comments here and really think you should take Ideefixe's comment to heart.

The admonition to "make sure they don't discuss politics in front of the children" is rather bizarre and arrogant. It is safe to assume that all of the parents of all the friends that your child will ever have hold opinions on politics. It is further safe to assume that some of these parents will hold political opinions that you find distasteful. Do you intend to inquire into the politics of all of your child's friends' parents? That idea has never even occurred to me. And, most of these parents are going to have the good sense not to harangue their own children's friends when having a sleepover.

To answer, "why would I steer him in the direction of people that I probably would not want to hang around with?", your son does not care one bit about your politics. He cares about having parties with friends. As Blasdelb says, you may to consider how liberal it is of you to advocate shunning people based on their political beliefs.
posted by Tanizaki at 5:27 PM on December 1, 2012 [1 favorite]

I agree with those who say that the other family's political beliefs shouldn't be a factor. They are unlikely to discuss political-related matters with an eight year-old, but even if they do, it's not going to warp your child. He is much more influenced by you, and as some people said, it's even good for him to realize there are different points of view in the world. Instead, you should simply make sure it's a safe environment.
posted by Dansaman at 5:30 PM on December 1, 2012

Here's another perspective from someone who was in a similar position to Thomas as a child, with hardcore right-wing parents in a very liberal town. My parents' right wing beliefs included the idea that if they did not hit me, I would become "spoiled." It involved me getting hit with wooden sticks and plastic rods, getting shoved, getting backhanded so hard I was knocked to the floor, and a variety of other things.

It helped so much to be able to spend time in the homes of my friends and their families. I believe that I am now a happy, educated, successful, progressive, and politically active middle-class person in large part because of all those people who welcomed me and allowed me to spend way more than a reasonable amount of time with them.

One of my parents behaved in a way that really could have sabotaged this. She came up with stringent rules for what my friends' parents could offer me or permit me to do in their homes. She came up with a whole lot of reasons to cause drama. She did insane things like repeatedly calling in the middle of the night, while I was sleeping over. One of my friend's parents (who I spent this past Thanksgiving with, actually), recently said that she felt at the time that my parent was trying to sabotage things for me, and she made a deliberate decision to have my back and put up with the behavior.

I will be grateful to these parents for my entire life. I just wanted to give you one possible flip side of this scenario, to take into account.
posted by cairdeas at 5:38 PM on December 1, 2012 [27 favorites]

When I was 10 and we were newish in town, I joined Girl Scouts with a girl across the street whose mother was the leader. (It was pretty obvious that we were expected to be friends.) The mom was very friendly, but she happened to listen to and sing along with the Jesus station during carpools.

And then one day I remember telling her that we'd gone to the Unitarian church (one of the biggest and most respected in the country), and she (the kid) said, "They're not Christian. My mom says that's not a church." And I was like, "They're a church! Yuh HUH!" "Nuh UH!"

I don't know why that bugged me so much. Maybe it just compounded feeling new and left-out. But what DID happen was a pretty good conversation with my parents, about both church crap and people's families.

And I think that's where you should go with this.
posted by Madamina at 5:41 PM on December 1, 2012 [2 favorites]

Only you can decide where the line is drawn for your child, but I want to talk about your relationship with the father:

" I mean I am always pissed at the party he represents, but somehow I can look past it in his case. This being a free vote, well I cannot get passed it and at some point, its going to come out. I have written letters in the past, but have stopped over the last 3 years ... partly because of Thomas's and Oliver's relationship"

In my role as a local official, parents of my kids' friends who disagree with me on the issues will come to me and say, "Eyebrows, I think X is really important." And I'll say, "I understand why you feel that way. Here's why I think Y is more important and we need to do Y instead of X." Or, "I don't agree, but I hear what you're saying and I'll definitely think about it." I am accustomed to the fact that as an official, people -- including parent-people! -- want to discuss issues with me and some of them will disagree with me, vehemently.

Generally I am willing to have a political discussion at any adult-only event, as long as it stays appropriate to the venue (i.e., polite. Heated is okay, but not rude or shouty or scene-making or wedding-ruining). If I need to exit the conversation, either because I am otherwise engaged or because the conversation is getting inappropriate, I will say, "njk, this is a bigger issue than I can go into in depth right now, but would you like to have lunch next week to discuss it or send me an e-mail with your thoughts?" or, "Let me call you tomorrow, I need to go be in some pictures with the bride." I generally do not START conversations about my political things at social events, but I am happy to answer someone else who does.

At child-including events, I prefer when someone lets me know they'd like to have a conversation in the near future, but it's a bit tricky to discuss political issues in front of children. (I only discuss political issues with children if the child brings it up and it's either really innocuous ("Can we get bike racks at our school?") or their parents are there, and I do that "look at the parents for permission" thing and continually gauge how in-depth to get.) I definitely do not want people to judge or ostracize my children for my political activism, although I recognize that is something that might happen.

It really doesn't bother me when people disagree with me about political issues. I mean I don't want to fight about it every time I see someone, but if someone comes to me and wants to really have a big discussion, and try to persuade me of their point of view, I mean, that's what I *DO* is meet and discuss and persuade and be persuaded. I am certainly forward about contacting politicians about issues I have strong feelings about.

So don't stop writing letters, certainly not out of respect for this parent. I suggest you ask if you can meet with him in his role as a politician, and lay out your objections to his stance. I think cutting out the families' relationship and NOT talking to the politician is exactly backwards; talk to the politician first, at the very least.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 6:25 PM on December 1, 2012 [11 favorites]

Thomas's parents are not Thomas. You are not Oliver. Stay focused on the people who matter here - the kids.

Using kids as pawns in a political proxy war is a dick move. Don't be a dick.
posted by flabdablet at 7:14 PM on December 1, 2012 [2 favorites]

They're kids. They want to play. Let them.
posted by nestor_makhno at 7:58 PM on December 1, 2012 [1 favorite]

I think you should let it go and keep facilitating as long as you think the kids have a good relationship. Think of how much your family and values might rub off on Thomas.
posted by amanda at 8:17 PM on December 1, 2012

I wish my kids had more friends whose parents had opposing political views that they could hang out with and invite over and hopefully those kids could learn by osmosis that people who have the various beliefs that my family has are awesome and worth knowing and considering. Unfortunately most of the kids my kids have befriended have more or less uniformly awesome parents. Maybe in middle school things will diversify...
posted by padraigin at 9:04 PM on December 1, 2012

I think there are half-measures and compromises available, here.

Since Oliver could go either way on spending time with Thomas and has other friends he'd possibly rather focus on, it won't hurt him if you are very selective about which of the specific engagements with Thomas are accepted on his behalf. Potentials include picking only events where multiple other children will be in attendance, or only those where Oliver is hosting, or perhaps a mix of the two.

Thomas could, as others have mentioned, pick up on a different frame of reference for the world from being around your family. Or not. These things aren't predictable. I can call forth many eye-witness anecdotes supporting either outcome. More important is that you have an opportunity to help a little guy have a social connection he genuinely cares about, doesn't fuss your son to maintain on some level, and can likely be kept within more comfortable constraints.

If you can do that while maintaining space between you and his parents without causing yourself undue stress, this seems like it could have multiple opportunities for spreading positivity.
posted by batmonkey at 10:32 PM on December 1, 2012 [1 favorite]

[A couple of comments deleted; don't debate each other here, and don't make this about how you personally feel about the politics involved.]
posted by taz (staff) at 10:56 PM on December 1, 2012

I think you are pissed because you backed off on your political activism for these folks, and you are discovering that was maybe the wrong choice. I get you on this!

Let the kids play. Reboot your activism. Continue writing letters and speaking at public meetings, etc, but never ever EVER discuss politics with the politician - especially in front of the children.

Either Thomas' parents will follow your lead and separate the two worlds, or they'll stop calling you for play dates.

Accept the play dates cheerfully and with genuine warmth. Ignore politics where the kids are involved. Go back to your activism.

Compartmentalize, stop personalizing. Remain civil.

The rest will work out on its own, and you'll feel less put out in the meantime, if you are gracious while still doing what you want.
posted by jbenben at 12:12 AM on December 2, 2012 [4 favorites]

Express your opinion of the other parents politics to them, strongly. You probably won't have to worry about sleepover invites after that.
posted by blue_beetle at 6:23 AM on December 2, 2012 [1 favorite]

Thank you. I have decided to go to the father's constituency office this week and get back to bashing his politics. I feel if I can clearly have him aware of where I stand on this (and other issues) than I will be less angstful. I have come to realize that I can handle differences of opinion, I just cant handle suppressing mine opinion :-)

If that means that Oliver is invited over less often, so be it. I will, however, be able to let Oliver go and play/sleepover at Thomas's (and vicecersa) without worrying about bitting my tongue or feeling suppressed rage bubbling up. This was more about me clearing things up between the parents, than the kids, which I kinda knew but has now been put in perspective.

Thank you.
posted by njk at 6:45 AM on December 2, 2012 [5 favorites]

I strongly agree with jbenben. If you want to be politically active about issues you care about, do it. But don't be the one to stop the play dates for that reason, unless they started crossing lines with your kid.
posted by J. Wilson at 6:58 AM on December 2, 2012

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