Keeping Distance When a Child Might Want Not Too

Updated on September 04, 2018
J.G. asks from Chicago, IL
16 answers

As some of you have older kids, I'm hoping someone has a polite way to not let a child play with another child.

We are going camping with a large group of people, and there is one girl that my 5 year old use to play with. We no longer have a connection to the family -and I'd like to keep it that way. My daughter's best friend will be with us, as well as a few other close friends. She shouldn't need a playmate. How do I make sure she doesn't start playing with this girl again?


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So What Happened?

I'm very hopeful it is a large enough place we won't bump into them a lot.

I have no intent of ostracizing anyone, and I am totally against excluding others from play.

I guess I was just looking for polite and creative ways to remove ourselves if need be.

This will be the last time we will be in this sort of situation. It's a trip that was booked eons ago, and while I wasn't thrilled they were going then, other things happened, and I think it's best if this family is no longer in our lives at all (the woman is very passive-aggressive and likes to cause trouble).

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answers from New York on

I'm throwing myself in front of the bullets here - can you please add more details, because right now this sounds ridiculous. I'm just jumping to say that before you get snarky replies!

What in the world happened with this other family?!

8 moms found this helpful


answers from Appleton on

Has the child done anything wrong? If not let the kids play together. If the Mom is toxic then my heart goes out to the child. You only have to put up with the Mom for a weekend, the child has to put up with her 24/7 for the next several years.
The damage done by a toxic parent can be a lifelong horror for the child. This weekend with friends might be one of the few shining lights in a very dark childhood.

"Child of two narcissist parents one also an alcoholic. Most of my childhood memories are painful."

2 moms found this helpful

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answers from San Francisco on

I can't think of any polite way to say "you can't play with us."
Going forward your daughter will have friends with parents you don't like, you just have to deal with it. It doesn't mean you have to be friends with them. My kids have some pretty awesome friends with parents I don't like or don't have anything in common with at all.

6 moms found this helpful


answers from Santa Fe on

Um, since you are going camping with a large group you do NOT say anything. The kids are all going to run around playing together in a big group. That's just the way it goes. You can't keep block one child from playing. Sorry. Later if your kid asks for playdates with this other child you just say no.

6 moms found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

Oh brother, just leave it alone.
Your kids' friends are and should be (for the most part) separate from yours.
You don't like the mom, fine, but there's no reason for the kids not to play, especially at a large public gathering.
Relax and enjoy yourself and let your child do the same, it really is that simple!

6 moms found this helpful


answers from San Diego on

Children are not adults and are not responsible for adults behaviors. If you don’t like their values or home behaviors that’s a perfectly acceptable reason not to have your kids go to their house or be watched by them. But unless the little girl is a direct bad influence, danger to your child or something else you have absolute nothing to gain and will surely cause problems by trying to stop her from being casual acquaintances with another little girl while on a group outing. Chicken naturally gravitate towards other children, If there’s another five year old within a country mile my daughter is going to at least say hi to her.

Oddly enough what you’re doing or attempting to do is also passive aggressive and honenstly a bit bizzare.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Atlanta on

Do you not see your own passive-aggressive behavior here? Come on.

Be an adult. YOU made the choice to go camping with these people, large group or not. So you are INTENTIONALLY putting yourself into a situation where you have to tell your daughter to be a snot.

You have 2 choices here.
1. Grow up. Stop being passive-aggressive and ROLE MODEL for your daughter.
2. DO NOT go camping.

There are ALWAYS going to be people you don't like in life. Just like kids too. You TEACH your daughter how to deal with people who don't feel like you do or have the same "code" you do. What I believe, you won't like it, but you don't like the mom because she's a lot like you and you don't like that. Why else would you have a problem?

Has this girl set fire to animals or stabbed someone? What makes this child SOOO horrible? Is your daughter perfect? I highly doubt it. None of my boys are perfect. Neither am I. I wouldn't go camping with people I don't like to be around. Why would you?

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Portland on

I guess this varies for people - but when we go with a group, the kids go off together ... that's the whole point of going as a group - there is no way to avoid this.

I have no idea how you would do this. I think it would be awkward and noticeable.

It's nice that your daughter would not need a playmate and she will have a few other close friends. The last thing you want though is it to be cliquey or you can't play with us in that kind of environment. I typically let kids sort it out on their own but if you signed up as a group, then that's what you signed up for.

I personally would let it go for the time being - is it just a weekend? Surely for the small amount of time, it's fine to just let it be. It doesn't mean they have to continue a friendship afterwards.

We camp with families that we don't spend time with outside of camping. That's fine. You don't have to encourage it, but don't limit it either. It may not even be a problem.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

Wow...sorry that's rude.
You are basically telling your child NOT to be inclusive and tolerant. WHY? What is so bad about this child?

You are going camping with a LARGE group of people - I'm SURE there are people there that don't like you, J., but will put up with you for a weekend or however long it is because they are NOT stuck in the same camper with you.

I suggest that you teach your daughter the tolerance that you preach and not have her block a child out because YOU don't like the mother.

You could also just be looking for trouble yourself. Being "THAT" mom or W.. Instead of being divisive and closed-minded? Why not just show your daughter that you can still be nice to people even if you don't "Like" them? What a GREAT role model that would be!

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

i suppose the easiest way is simply not to go camping with people you don't like.

i can't think of a *nice* way for a group of 5 year old-ish kids to play together but not let one join in.

the only thing i can come up with is for you to remove your child and take her somewhere else- a hike, or something your-family-only oriented so that it won't be super obvious that you're shunning the other little girl.


4 moms found this helpful


answers from Minneapolis on

There is no polite way to "make sure she doesn't start playing with this girl again" in a large group. Adults can choose to be cordial in situations like this, but a 5 year old isn't going to get whatever kind of conflict caused you to no longer have a connection to the family and why that translates into you not wanting her to include, or to play with an old friend of hers if she is right there. Why would you want another little girl at the camp gathering to be left out of a group of children playing? How do you think her old friend is going to feel if your daughter gives her the cold shoulder to go off and play with her best friend? We are talking about a small child here. I suggest you let your daughter play with all the children if you choose to go. It doesn't mean you ever have to invite the other family and child to your house, or have your daughter go to theirs to play, or make plans with them ever individually. I obviously have no idea the background story here, but if you're that serious about not seeing them, may you should bow out of the gathering all together.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Atlanta on

There are quite a few 'ifs' involved here, and all of them would have to happen before you have a situation to deal with again. Maybe the kids might not play together at all. Possibility two, they might play a little, however spend most of their time with other kids. Possibility three, they will play together a lot, but neither is interested in seeing each other again afterwards. The only time you have a problem is if they play together a lot and your daughter starts asking repeatedly to play with her after the trip. That is pretty unlikely. Overall, I don't see any way to insist on separation when you are in that type of situation, however it IS temporary. When you come back home and if your daughter asks about playing with her again, you can just say no, not today. If she asks several times, explain to her that your families don't spend time together. After a while, she will stop wanting to spend time with the other child. Hope the trip is fun, regardless of who else is there!

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Boston on

It depends on whether your issue is with the other child (she's cruel, or physically inappropriate or likely to cause injury to your child), or with her parents (you dislike them, think they - or the mom - are problems).

If the first, then you supervise the play. There are other kids involved, so there's unlikely to be one-on-one play anyway, As long as no one is excluded, there shouldn't be a problem. You don't have to set up play dates in the future or have this girl to your house. If you try to prevent them even getting together for brief periods, you will become the problem parent who "causes trouble" and you don't want to do that.

If it's the second, where you just don't like the parents, then you do the same thing - hang out with the group, try to manifest calm rather than tension, and let adult peer group pressure keep the other adults from "causing trouble" (whatever type that is). If you avoid being alone with the other family, and avoid the kids being alone, what could happen? As it is, you're likely to be the only one having a bad time, because you're so on guard here.

If you see your daughter with the other girl (the one you don't like), you simply say, "Come Petunia, you're neglecting your friend, Marmalade, who is at our campsite. I can't watch you both if you aren't together." If you find yourself with the parents you don't like, you excuse yourself to get more snacks, rinse out a bathing suit or hang up towels, go to the bathroom, whatever. Then go do those things, and then manage to sit down with other friends. There's nothing wrong with moving around a campsite as you would a cocktail party, greeting and chatting with a variety of people. In the process, you are modeling good manners and social skills for your daughter.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Portland on

Unless playing with the other girl is unsafe, just wait and see what happens. With other kids around why would your daughter play exclusively with this one girl? It's likely that all the kids will play with each other including your daughter. Why would you make playing difficult for your daughter? I suggest that if you ostracize this one girl you also ostracize your daughter. You cannot control who the kids play with.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Minneapolis on

Either let the kids be and do what they are going to do or stay home.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Miami on

There's not really a way to do it. If they start playing, they start playing.

However, the rude mother may tell her daughter that she can't play with your daughter, hurt feelings, and make herself look like the jerk that she is. But that's not what YOU'RE going to do, J.. Let the other mother be the beotch.

I promise you that the group of people you are camping with will appreciate it if you take the high road.

1 mom found this helpful
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