Politely parenting my kid's playdates?
April 5, 2013 10:28 AM   Subscribe

My preschooler is getting just old enough to have a proper social life (playdates, birthday parties, etc.). I've got some specific questions about the parental etiquette expectations surrounding these kiddie get-togethers.

Since my husband and I are busy introverts, we've never really done any parent meetups or playgroups or any kind of organized socialization; little B (4ish) has played with other kids pretty much exclusively ad-hoc on the playground, or at school/daycare. As she gets old enough to get invites to more directed kinds of socializing, though, I'm wondering what the current conventions are for parent involvement in this stuff. Specifically:

--Playdates: must we stop by and introduce ourselves as parents a couple days before the date? May we, if we'd like to from a safety standpoint? Can we ask where the kids would be playing? Should we provide this info unasked if/when other people are checking us out?

--Likewise, on playdates at other people's houses, is one of us expected to stay there the whole time? If not, is it OK for one of us to stay there, just to keep an eye on things? May/should we follow the kids around the house, or do we stay seated in whatever adult space we're offered? If we do stay, do we have to chat with the other parent the whole time (ugh), or is it cool to bring a book or some work or something?

-- For playdates at our house: must/should we invite the other parents to stay? If they do stay, do we have to hang out with them the whole time? (please please say we don't)

-- Ditto birthday parties: do we stay? Do we help? Must we chat? Do we follow the kids?

-- Post-encounter thank-you notes (from us/her): required? expected? And in response to which invites?

-- And lastly, any other do's/don'ts we should be aware of?

As you may have guessed, I'm kind of dreading the whole thing, both from a safety standpoint (just read Protecting the Gift, which is very eloquent on the potential for creepy sexual violence from friends' random elder brothers, uncles, fathers, etc.) and in terms of the social requirements for myself-- so it'd be particularly helpful to know what the bounds of decorum are on the high-supervision, but low-social-engagement, end of the spectrum. Location, if it matters, is middle-class suburban USA. Thanks!
posted by Bardolph to Human Relations (24 answers total) 16 users marked this as a favorite
 
I feel like preschool is maybe a little young for playdates, but I guess it depends on the kid.

We started hosting playdates in kindergarten. When we invited kids we made it clear to the parents that the girls would be playing in my kid's room and that my husband and I would be doing chores in the house, i.e. that while we'd be around to provide snacks and help if it was needed, it was NOT contemplated that anyone would be hovering over the kids and that we were not available for hosting a grown up kid-watching session. Some were a little tentative, but of course it worked out fine. This would only work if the kids were ready for this kind of independent play, of course (and I wouldn't plan a playdate otherwise, personally.)

I only send my kid on playdates to homes where I've met the parents. I also have my kids in a close knit private school so I feel safe with the population in general.
posted by fingersandtoes at 10:38 AM on April 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


For a four year old I would absolutely stay with them for the playdate and the birthday parties. Birthday parties are not free childcare, and neither are playdates. If you don't like the parents, then you politely decline the playdate. Because if you don't like their company, then you should probably not be encouraging your child to hang out with them and take social cues from them. If you're super-introverted then it just means you have a smaller social/playdate circle than some other families, and that's OK.
posted by Joh at 10:39 AM on April 5, 2013 [9 favorites]


Oh, and, if you do accept a playdate invitation for children young enough that you can't comfortably leave them alone to play with their friends, then yes, you must stay, and no, you can't read a book, sorry! (This is why I never did playdates until my girl was old enough to play comfortably, safely, and independently with her friends.)
posted by fingersandtoes at 10:42 AM on April 5, 2013 [3 favorites]


If they do stay, do we have to hang out with them the whole time? (please please say we don't)

I don't know what other options you have. You can't invite adults into your home and leave them sitting by themselves. If you're not up to "play" with the grownups, just don't have them in.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 10:42 AM on April 5, 2013 [10 favorites]


I can only speak to my 4 year old daughter's social circle, (upper east side, manhattan) but yes, parents stay for playdates and birthday parties. Yes, you hang out with the parents. No thank you notes, but sometimes a "that was fun" email or text particularly if you want to do it again. I think drop off playdates seem to start around age 6 or 7.
posted by gaspode at 10:43 AM on April 5, 2013 [2 favorites]


--Playdates: must we stop by and introduce ourselves as parents a couple days before the date? May we, if we'd like to from a safety standpoint?

Must? No. May? Sure. But bear in mind that you're kind of telling people, "I don't believe that you have made your house -- where you raise a child of approximately my child's age -- sufficiently safe."

Can we ask where the kids would be playing? Should we provide this info unasked if/when other people are checking us out?

Asking, "Will they be outside?" is a reasonable question, because it factors into your clothing selection. Otherwise, you're telling people that thing I mentioned above.

--Likewise, on playdates at other people's houses, is one of us expected to stay there the whole time? If not, is it OK for one of us to stay there, just to keep an eye on things? May/should we follow the kids around the house, or do we stay seated in whatever adult space we're offered?

For preschoolers, yes, stay with them. As they get older, it depends on your parenting style. I wouldn't find it weird if the other parents dropped their school-age kids off and left, nor if they hung out and let the kids play on their own in/around the house, nor if they wanted to supervise a little closer.

If we do stay, do we have to chat with the other parent the whole time (ugh), or is it cool to bring a book or some work or something?

I would find it pretty rude if you felt that I wasn't capable of supervising your kid and you weren't going to either. Bring a board game, on the other hand, and I would happily play it with you.

-- For playdates at our house: must/should we invite the other parents to stay? If they do stay, do we have to hang out with them the whole time? (please please say we don't)

You should leave it up to them without expressly "inviting" them. If they stay, you are expected to be a gracious host.

-- Ditto birthday parties: do we stay? Do we help? Must we chat? Do we follow the kids?

Birthday parties are a little laxer, but not at pre-school ages.

-- Post-encounter thank-you notes (from us/her): required? expected? And in response to which invites?

Nice, but not expected. Emails are a good medium -- "Thanks again for having Susie come over and play with Madison. She had a great time. And I really loved learning how to play pinochle. We'll have to do this again some time at our house."

-- And lastly, any other do's/don'ts we should be aware of?

Don't bring wine or food. Tell them ahead of time about any allergies or other issues. Don't complain about any snacks the other house provides, unless your kid is actually allergic (maybe a "That's enough Cheez Doodlz for now, Susie," but don't refuse to let her eat them just because they have HFCS or whatever). Don't bring up Protecting the Gift.
posted by Etrigan at 10:44 AM on April 5, 2013 [11 favorites]


I have a three-year-old and am pretty introverted. We generally don't do drop-off playdates yet (though I do have two or three friends with kids I can drop my son with if I have a doc appt or an emergency.) I probably wouldn't start doing drop-offs until I'm absolutely sure he could tell me if there was any funny business, as you mentioned.

So if you're hosting, yeah, you're kind of on the hook to host the other parent too, that's why it's important to encourage your kid to make friends with kids who have parents you like too. :) It's generally an hour or two for parents to chat as well. We pretty much stay in the adult space, but we do break up scuffles or check on them if they're too quiet. But here apartments are pretty small, so the kids are generally not too far away.

No thank-you notes required.
posted by Ollie at 10:47 AM on April 5, 2013


You absolutely introduce yourself and chat for a few minutes and suss out the environment and the people. You don't have to bring stuff or stay, although at that age I would.

When your child is 14 you will begin to understand why knowing the parents of your kids' friends is so important. Creepy older siblings is rare, but secretive teenagers who get into shenanigans are legion.
posted by headnsouth at 10:49 AM on April 5, 2013 [3 favorites]


So far, I've been part of play dates where the grown ups stay and converse with each other. It's pretty much expected at the preschool level.

As the kids get older, things change, obviously. But there is never anything wrong with emailing the parents to ask what they had in mind. Especially for birthday parties, because depending on where it is, there may already be "staff" to help them watch kids, such as one of those horrific pizza places.

And definitely no thank you notes for any of these things.
posted by wwartorff at 11:02 AM on April 5, 2013


Agree with everything Joh said.

You will probably transition to drop-offs instead of you-stay-with stuff over the next couple of years. Maybe sooner if you are friends with the other parents. At 4 it still is child care that requires work; in not too long they'll be more 'beat it please Mummy' and the risk of some parent-requiring incident like a toileting disaster will be minimal. But 4 is not quite there, at least in our circles.

I have a friend on my street who has three kids; I have one, so given the balance of kid-friendliness of the home my child tends to end up at hers rather than hers here, and she's a friend so me supervising play over there was abandoned early, so I send my kid down with baked goods sometimes as a thank-you. But a note would be overkill. However --

is it cool to bring a book or some work or something?

no. And bust out the light refreshments if you're hosting.

The only person I have ever seen do a drop-off, at an age when that wasn't the norm, later on did not drop off, and actually -- I still can't believe this -- stole a piece of jewellery from my house. I would (er, based on more than that, but) take it as a reassuring sign when you find that your kids' friends' parent[s] expect "playdate" to be a friendly social thing for the adults. You're both...interviewing, to a degree. Useful for your comfort level when sleepover age turns up.

(I wouldn't 'pre-introduce' myself nor would I ask to inspect rooms etc, nor would I offer up such things for inspection. Personally, I would not have bothered with play dates at supervision-required ages where I didn't myself like the company of the other parent[s].)
posted by kmennie at 11:03 AM on April 5, 2013 [3 favorites]


I'm introverted as well and we typically have done playdates only with kids whose parents we also wanted to hang out with. Now that it's getting warmer in the northern hemisphere, we're also able to do "let's all go to the playground" type playdates if having people in your (messy introvert) house is too much to bear. Fortunately, we also have a few friends where we have "it takes a village" type parenting arrangements: we can drop our kids off with each other and implicitly trust the safety, appropriateness and discipline they'll be encountering -- our son is 6 now and we've been dropping him off with these close friends since 3 or 4, but in general I'm still slightly widgy about dropping him off at new friends' homes.
posted by chesty_a_arthur at 11:03 AM on April 5, 2013


For a pre-school playdate or birthday party, I would assume parental involvement. When my daughter was 4 and under, birthday parties were mostly among the kids from her tiny daycare; the parents all stayed, often there was beer! Playdates weren't really a thing in our group, but sometimes at pickup someone would invite someone else over for supper. That was the whole family.

But you can always ask; be honest that you're new to the playdate scene and seek advice, and offer whatever you would like. "So, hey, we'd like to invite Emily over Saturday morning for a few hours. Feel free to just drop her off if you'd like to get groceries in peace." Often the invitation will let you know, too. "Would you and little Bardolph like to come over to play on Sunday?"

Kindergarten birthday parties were the ones where the parents stopped staying and stopped expecting you to stay. But there were some edge cases and some parents still invite you to stay, depending on how close you are/how big their house is. My daughter is good friends with the daughter of a friend of mine, and we always go to the other's birthday parties, and sometimes we hang out, but just as often, my kid sleeps over at their place without me. For the other birthday parties, I just drop off.

When a parent stays, you treat them like a guest; when you stay, you act like one. That means no book reading!

When kids are your daughter's age, you get to set up the playdates, so you only have to set them up with people you actually are willing to spend a couple hours with. If you don't want to, you don't have to. (I didn't.) Once they are old enough to pick their own friends, they're also old enough to stay by themselves.
posted by looli at 11:15 AM on April 5, 2013


Bear in mind that you're showing your child how to be social. My husband is fairly introverted, with perfect manners. He wasn't always thrilled to tiny bits to stay and chat while our kids played, but because he knew that our very shy daughter was more comfortable having a parent around, he stayed, and sometimes would play with the kids, which was more his element than discussing sports in the living room (and never mind the moms who were a tich surprised when he showed up, daughter and Beanie Babies in tow, instead of the expected mommy.) Bringing a book to a playdate or birthday party is rude, I think.
posted by Ideefixe at 11:16 AM on April 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


--Playdates: must we stop by and introduce ourselves as parents a couple days before the date? May we, if we'd like to from a safety standpoint?

For that age, I always go along for the first playdate at new houses, new friends' places. I just think it's prudent for everyone involved: I can get a sense of their parenting, I can read my kid's signs for exhaustion, I can get a sense of the environment (one of my kids was inordinately curious about toilets, the other not so much). Showing up a few days beforehand would be weird in my book. Re: Etrigan's point "you're kind of telling people, "I don't believe that you have made your house -- where you raise a child of approximately my child's age -- sufficiently safe." ...You know, you just don't know and I think staying for at least one visit falls into better safe than sorry territory. There is a wide range of norms and it depends on your kid. Other parents felt comfortable with their kids playing in a yard. My kids had very little sense of boundaries and could not be left alone without them ranging blocks away.

--Likewise, on playdates at other people's houses, is one of us expected to stay there the whole time? If not, is it OK for one of us to stay there, just to keep an eye on things?

Under age 4, I assumed I would stay unless the hosting family were pretty close friends, and with those we did some child care-share on snow days, so it worked well that at an early age the kids were comfortable at each other's houses. Over age 4 or so I would explicitly ask since for some people (ahem, us introverts) having a playdate is a nice opportunity to get stuff done and know your kid is productively engaged. I prefer it when parents don't stay. But for other people playdates are social occasions. So I just generally ask, "What are your thoughts about me staying? Did you want the kids to have a chance to play alone while you get something done or do you want me to stay?" This lets people just tell you what they'd prefer.

May/should we follow the kids around the house, or do we stay seated in whatever adult space we're offered? If we do stay, do we have to chat with the other parent the whole time (ugh), or is it cool to bring a book or some work or something?
Aside from just a quick check about any particular safety issues I know my kid raises (loves long cords, hits with blocks, etc.) I follow the other parent's lead. I'm not a hoverer, but some are and the center of gravity just ends up being wherever the kids are playing. Bringing work other than, I guess, knitting, would seem anti-social (not that I'd love to just check out and read, but even this introvert can read the cues!)

-- For playdates at our house: must/should we invite the other parents to stay? If they do stay, do we have to hang out with them the whole time? (please please say we don't)

I'm sorry to say this, having been in exactly this position, but if they stay, yes, you have to hang out with them the whole time. When I host, I'm very clear about my desire ("Would you like to send Little B over for a playdate? I will have a pile of laundry to get through and it would be a good time for Little Cocoa to have a playmate.") Even if you signal it like this, some people will still decide to stay. They tend to be extroverts who assume this is great chance to socialize without the kids around. And yes, you must sit and chat and give some basic drink.

-- Ditto birthday parties: do we stay? Do we help? Must we chat? Do we follow the kids?
Parties under 4 I assume we stay. The kids are just not self sufficient at that age and self-control is still emergent. Over 4-5yo, I ask. We know some parents of an 8yo who basically throw a house party for adults and keep the birthday party in the basement. Others are happy to host 7 kids at a bowling alley and the 7-8yos are fine with managing themselves. I tend to help just because it's an acceptable way for me to recharge after socializing.

-- Post-encounter thank-you notes (from us/her): required? expected? And in response to which invites?
No thank yous here for playdates, just a "That went well, Little Cocoa enjoyed it. Thanks and let's do it again sometime." We write thank yous for gifts, but not thank yous for being invited. I work with my kids to make eye contact with birthday kid and his/her parents and to say thank you for being invited and that they had a good time. After age 5-6, when kid has some writing skills, I did some thank yous where my kid then writes the gifter's name, and his name. As my kid has more writing skills, he has written his own short but complete thank yous.

-- And lastly, any other do's/don'ts we should be aware of?
Make sure you're in agreement with the other parents about meals and snacks. Some kids will need a snack and will be very picky, so you can ask the other parent to bring a snack for their kid. Others may have allergies that they are on the cusp of managing themselves but which you will not want to be ignorant of. And just the logistics of knowing your kid has eaten or not when you get them back so it doesn't mess with the rest of your day.

I always point out the bathroom to new kids so they know where it is. And before I leave my older kid at a friends, I pull him aside and say, "So, do you know where the bathroom is?" I also let all kids I'm hosting know they can play xyz-turn-taking game if they get into a tiff about something, or to come see me to help work things out.
posted by cocoagirl at 11:17 AM on April 5, 2013


I have a 5 year old and a 2 year old. Up to now, playdates for us and our circle have generally been an excuse for the parents to hang out with each other, and the kids getting to play has been almost secondary. I dont think I would make plans for a parents-staying-over playdate if I didnt already know and like the other parents. My 5 year old has gotten to the point of sending her by herself to the neighbors house (and vice versa) and we expect drop-off playdates to be increasingly common for her over the next year or two. I would find it exceedingly strange if another parent came over to my house with their kid and then proceeded to sit there and read a book or do work instead of hanging out.
posted by fancyoats at 11:25 AM on April 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


Playdates for my 5-year-old are about a 50-50 split on whether the parents stick around. Usually, they stay for the first few times & then start just dropping the kids off once they're comfortable with our house. Pre-kindergarten, we always stuck around.

With the 5-year-olds, we generally don't follow them through the house. But the 3-year-olds definitely get more direct supervision & the other mom & I usually move through the house quite a bit as we follow the little ones.

I view it as a very uncomfortable blind date, where I have to sit & make small talk, but the only thing we definitely have in common is kids the same age. It would be ok to bring knitting along, but nothing that prevents you from chatting. And definitely have tea/coffee/lemonade to offer the parent if you're hosting.
posted by belladonna at 11:30 AM on April 5, 2013


At that age, playdates are based more on parental compatibility.

I don't think any parent wants to be left alone with toddlers, and it will be difficult even with 5 year olds, since they need a lot of extra time to bond with other adults.

For better or for worse, the "independent" playdates, where we arranged and then dropped the kids off, occurred later on in kindergarten, when the kids were socialized to be able to better interact with adult strangers.

By about the age of 8 or so I was heartily sick of the entire playdate concept, and asked my son to arrange his own damn hanging out times.

The challenges:

- people work more, so kids are in after-school care or parents aren't home, so it's more difficult these days for 5-12 year olds to just hang out after school

- people drive a lot more to school, so just hanging out after school is difficult

- there are more single-parent households these days, so some kids are at different houses on different days


That said, my so, who is ten, started walking to school by himself (we live about 40 minutes walk from school with a couple of dangerous intersections), and he started walking with friends.

I called the friends' mom the other day and she didn't seem to care who I was.

So the micromanagement will end eventually.

I've noticed over the years that we become cordial with our son's friends' parents, but that's about it.

When I was a kid, I doubt my parents ever spoke to my friends' parents.
posted by KokuRyu at 11:37 AM on April 5, 2013


I think pre-K, staying and chatting is the norm. I consider myself an introvert, but I welcome the opportunity to get to know my kid's friends and their parents. I want to know who my kid is hanging out with.

Right now our older son is 6 and there is no norm -- both parents generally try to be clear about what they expect and there's a small negotiation. The hosting parent says one of:
A. "Would you like a drink?"
B. "You're welcome to stay, or you can pick up Little Joey around 1 p.m."
C. "Feel free to have some time to yourself and pick up Little Joey around 1 p.m."

And if the visiting parent wants to leave, they say, "I was hoping to run an errand in town. Would you mind if I pick up Little Joey around 1 p.m.? Here's my cell phone number." (Always leave a cell phone number if you're dropping off, or ask for one if they're dropping off. But if the hosting parent has made it clear that they expect you to stay, I don't think you should request a drop-off unless it's just for a little while.)
posted by chickenmagazine at 11:42 AM on April 5, 2013 [3 favorites]


I have an almost 4-year-old who goes on play dates frequently as she is quite the social butterfly and asks to see school friends outside of school all the time.

--Playdates: must we stop by and introduce ourselves as parents a couple days before the date? May we, if we'd like to from a safety standpoint? Can we ask where the kids would be playing? Should we provide this info unasked if/when other people are checking us out?

You don't have to stop by a few days before. In fact, I would think that is a little weird. When you're setting up the playdate I would say it's fine to ask where the kids would be playing.

--Likewise, on playdates at other people's houses, is one of us expected to stay there the whole time? If not, is it OK for one of us to stay there, just to keep an eye on things? May/should we follow the kids around the house, or do we stay seated in whatever adult space we're offered? If we do stay, do we have to chat with the other parent the whole time (ugh), or is it cool to bring a book or some work or something?

You should stay, yes, unless the other parent specifically says you can go. Friends and I will often do this for each other - tell the other, "Hey, why don't you drop off Jane so she and Kara can play, and you can go run some errands or something" or "Do you mind if I drop Mike off for an hour or two, just so I can do some food shopping?" If I'm not too familiar with the parent beforehand I would expect them to stay - because I am making a playdate for my kid, not because I am setting up babysitting services (either to be the sitter or have my kid watched).

You don't need to follow the kids around the house - I would follow the hosting parent's lead on this. I think it's rude to bring a book or work.

-- For playdates at our house: must/should we invite the other parents to stay? If they do stay, do we have to hang out with them the whole time? (please please say we don't)

You can invite them to stay, or you can offer for them to just drop their kid off. If they do stay, you have to hang out with them, yes. Do you really think they would be happy to just sit there by themselves?

-- Ditto birthday parties: do we stay? Do we help? Must we chat? Do we follow the kids?

Stay, yes, and chat. You don't need to follow the kids. Four years old is not old enough for drop-off birthday parties yet, but 5-6 years old might be, I think it depends on the crowd you run with.

-- Post-encounter thank-you notes (from us/her): required? expected? And in response to which invites?

A quick email to say, "Hey, Susie had a great time with Joey/had a great time at Sally's birthday party!" would be appreciated but not expected.

-- And lastly, any other do's/don'ts we should be aware of?

I totally get that some of this stuff might be awkward for you, especially if you don't know the other parent very well. But I invite my daughter's friends over with the expectation of talking to their moms/dads and I look forward to the adult conversation, introvert though I may be. It is nice to talk to other parents about what their similar-aged child is doing, for one.

Ask if you should bring a snack, and if you are hosting, check to see if the other child has food allergies.
posted by sutel at 2:09 PM on April 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


> At that age, playdates are based more on parental compatibility

I agree with that, but add that I have pretty low standards for friendships when it comes to my fellow parents. I hang out with all sorts of people I wouldn't've chosen to when I was in my twenties. And this is good! My social circle is much more diverse now then it used to be.

At that age you should presume it's a parents-stay playdate or party, unless you're explicitly invited to drop your child off.
posted by The corpse in the library at 2:14 PM on April 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


Up until Kindergarten (about age 6 where we live), I always stayed for the playdate. But I only made playdates with parents I liked and whose kids were at worst, tolerable. I wasn't really into forcing myself to hang with another adult I didn't really like, so there's that.

One thing, though, before my kids ever went to someone's house I would always ask on the phone:

* Will you (the parent) be home the whole time? If not, who's watching them? Finding out an older sibling would be in charge always sometimes a reason to cancel the playdate.
* Will you be staying at home? Bringing my kid to a friend's house and then finding out they spent the afternoon running errands with my kid used to piss me off.
* And I always phrased this as, "Please don't think I'm overly paranoid to ask, but do you have any guns at your house? How are they stored?" And the reason I asked that is because even though I live in a wealthy, white-collar Boston suburb, one of my kids had a friend whose dad was an FBI agent, and my daughter came home and told me how Caroline showed me her dad's gun. You'd be surprised at how many smart people have weapons available in the house.

I never asked about food or tv. If my kids told me later that all they did was watch tv and eat candy, I just wouldn't have playdates at that house anymore.

Also, if you've got a kid at your house and you're confident in your finger-painting craft (or whatever), PLEASE tell the other parent, "Hey, if you want to grab a coffee for an hour, I've got this." I loved when nice parents did that.
posted by kinetic at 2:58 PM on April 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


> "Please don't think I'm overly paranoid to ask, but do you have any guns at your house? How are they stored?"

Seconding this, as weird and awkward as it might sound. One house is now off-limits for playdates after my daughter told me about the gun in the basement.
posted by The corpse in the library at 3:28 PM on April 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


We started playdates at about age 5. When the other parent and child arrive for the first time, I give them a friendly "tour of the house," in reality so they can see it looks safe and there is no one else there but us. I do this because I would want to know the same. After this reassurance, some parents go run errands and some stay. No one who stayed the first time has stayed twice, unless they were becoming really friendly with us and wanted to hang out. We try to make the parent's stay as fun as the child's. We offer coffee, etc. The kids tend to come out of the bedroom to absorb some adult attention pretty frequently, so needing to check on them (at age 5) has never been an issue. We also try to be really personable at day care/school drop-off, so that we kind of do know all the parents ahead of time. Sticking around at birthday parties is another great way to check out the other parents.
posted by Knowyournuts at 4:05 PM on April 5, 2013


You should absolutely only do what you are comfortable with, and definitely err on the side of caution. But I think the best approach is not to interrogate/interview but get to know families (parents and kids) first before you even consider doing a play date at someone's home. Get to know them at the local park, at preschool pickup and drop-off, at birthday parties, etc. You can arrange play dates at public places like bouncy house centers, trampoline centers, etc. Once you start to know the families, you'll find out naturally about siblings, pets, and even whether they own guns and could potentially be found by the children). When you are ready to consider play dates at homes, you can host one first and offer information to the parents that you would want them to offer you to you if they host so that when there's an invitation to play at their house, they will have already been prepped in some way for the kind of information you are expecting to hear from them. If you are uncomfortable or concerned about any particular situation, just don't do that play date (and who cares what other people think - the well-being of your child is rightly far and away your number one concern).
posted by Dansaman at 10:52 PM on April 5, 2013


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