Playdate When the Parents Aren't Already Friends...

Updated on October 29, 2012
K.F. asks from Hillsboro, OR
19 answers

My son started Kindergarten this year and we are at the point where he has some friends that he wants to have come over and play. He attends a private school about 20 minutes from our house, so the kids are not in our neighborhood or particularly close by.

We have always had playdates with my friends and their kids but I am new to the idea of him having kids over whose parents I don't already know. How does this work? I'm not comfortable sending him to someone else's house when I don't really know the family. There are only 12 kids in his class, so all the parents chat at drop off and pick up, but I don't really KNOW them enough to leave him at their home. Plus, the girl he wants to have come over is dropped off and picked up by grandma and other family, so I have never even seen her mom (my son has since she teaches the kids yoga once a week). It also seems awkward to have the other parents stay during the playdate, forcing me to entertain them, especially if it isn't even the childs mom.

My son tends to be shy so we really want to encourage him to be social. I need guidance from experienced moms!

Thank you!

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S.G.

answers from Los Angeles on

This is kinda weird, right?

I never seemed to run into this or have an issue until my third child. She invited a friend over to play and I expected it to be a drop off. But the dad came AND stayed! Awkward. Especially since my husband wasn't here.

Good Luck!!!

3 moms found this helpful
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L.F.

answers from San Francisco on

Ask for a play date but meet somewhere---like a play center, park etc. Get to know the other mom and then you may be comfortable for a home playdate.

2 moms found this helpful

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K.P.

answers from New York on

When my son asked to have a playdate with his preschool BFF, we went through the same conversations! I ended up calling the mom and asking her if they wanted to go see a children's puppet show with us and then out for ice cream. It worked out well b/c the kids were together and there wasn't a lot of pressure on us to make small talk. Ended up really enjoying eachothers company and have gotten together for playdates/lunch ever since!

I would suggest reaching out to that child's mother and inviting them to "do something"... go to the park, go see a show, pottery place... whatever. Get to know that mother a little bit and then go from there. If that's not your style, invite the girl and her mother over for a short playdate and coffee/tea cookies... and then be ready to bake cookies when they get there!

1 mom found this helpful

J.M.

answers from Philadelphia on

i had an all girl playdate for my daughters class. 8 girls came, and I J. put on the *bottom parents are welcome to stay or drop off and return.
if they stay you wont have to entertain them, they'll talk to eachother and tend to their kids

1 mom found this helpful
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L.F.

answers from Chicago on

Is your son asking for play dates? If not, then maybe he isn't ready for them. At kindergarten age, the play dates tend to be drop-offs. I don't have the energy to entertain parents if my kid isn't REALLY SUPER EXCITED to have a play date. If your is shy, it might make for a difficult play date for you, because you might end up having to entertain the guest.

What about sending the parents an e-mail asking if they would like to meet up at a local park (or mall indoor play area if it is bad weather) for a play date. I did this for my daughter when she was in kindergarten. It was great to see how the kids interacted and find out who was friends with whom (both parents and kids).

I recently organized a park picnic/play date after school for my preschooler son. Almost all of the parents and kids showed up, and it was really great for me to see how the parents were and who the aggressive kids were. The kids all had fun, and there were enough parents so the conversation was light and entertaining. Once you can break the ice with the other parents and see how your kids interact, you can decide whether or not a play date is something that would be a good idea. Good luck!

1 mom found this helpful
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G.B.

answers from Oklahoma City on

I don't understand why any parent would have a playdate with a child they don't know in their own home. How uncomfortable that must be fore everyone. If that child breaks something it's on you, their parents weren't there watching them, you were so it's your fault for not watching them better. If the child gets hurt, it's on your house insurance to cover the bill and possibly offer the parents a settlement if they decide to sue you.

Have playdates in local parks, McDonalds play grounds, at a fun place even if there is a small charge. If you invite the other family you should probably pay the cost of getting in for their family. They should not want their child to be left alone with strangers either.

Once you know the parents and have meshed with them it is easier to invite them to your home. You know their parenting style since you have spent time with them, you know what kind of language they use or if they smoke a lot, etc....you can decide later if you want this family even knowing where you live.

1 mom found this helpful
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J.T.

answers from New York on

Well - sounds like the first time will be with a girl who will come to your house, right? So no safety issue on your end. When someone comes to drop her off, say "do you want to come in FOR A MINUTE?" That way they get to check out your house etc to make sure it seems safe to them. Let them chat 10 min or so to feel comfortable with you. Then say "what time is good for you to come pick up xzy or do you want me to take her to your house?" Likely they won't take you up on the latter offer... So yo'ure sending the message you expect this to be a drop off playdate. IF they say "oh! we thought we'd stay" then sucks but it's happened to me and not a huge deal. Just say "oh, we typically just have DS do drop off playdates now that he's in K (lie) but you're welcome to stay. I can get you some magazines etc. I just have some cleaning up to do in xyz room (another room that you're not in). So not horrible if they stay, not optimal but you can still get some stuff done. For your son gonig to other people's houses, typically they'll let you in the door and you can chat for 10 min. K isn't that young anymore. I didn't feel like I had to know the parent ssuper well if their child has seemed like a good kid and their house looks normal, they seem normal etc. If you're not comfortable even after 10 min bc you just can't do that, could you leave for 30 min saying you'd be back soon and happy to take them to the park for awhile. That way you only leave your son for 30 min but the playdate doens't have to end.... I'd tend to think parents in a nice private school are all pretty responsible etc.

1 mom found this helpful
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M.M.

answers from New York on

I would have a play date, the first time with one of the children your son is interested in playing with at a playground or park after school somewhere in the middle for travel on both parts. For this initial play date have the parents go along and then you could feel them out and see what their story is. Then your not having to entertain or be unwillingly social with the child's parents is solved because if you like them, don't like them or don't have an opinion on them whatsoever at least you'd be on neutral ground and could call it a day whenever you wanted if you felt the were just not a good fit for your son. Then when you felt comfortable, maybe consider a play date at their house. I would no way let my child go to a child's house whose parents I didn't know. In fact, my daughter got asked to go to another girls house that lives just around the block. They had been sitting together on the bus. My daughter was in first grade and the girl in 2nd. The mom called me, we chatted for a bit, I figured it was just around the corner when she asked for my daughter to come over. So I get there, she doesn't invite me in for even a minute, tells me that she won't be there when I get my daughter in an hour, that she had errands to run! They'd be staying with the dad who was nowhere to be seen! AND they had waterfront property to boot... ( danger... no gated barrier to water ) So, I said... you know what? I don't think this is going to work out, took my daughter and left. She never called again.

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A.H.

answers from Omaha on

My kids are now 3.5 and almost 5 years old. Looking back many of their friends/my friendships were made because of our kids. My son was in a Gymboree class at 6 weeks old. That class was for me as much as it was for him, socially speaking. I needed some mom friends since I was a SAHM! We still get together with pals we made in that class almost five years ago. In fact, we moms, joke that scheduling all the birthday parties is somewhat of a logistical nightmare because the kids are grouped by age in the Gymboree class, so their birthdays are literally days and weeks apart from each other. Since then, we have met neighbors with kids and friends from preschool. Much of the time the kids dictate who my friendships are because we share the common bond of our kids' friendships. It works the other way too. If my friends have children around my kids' ages then we hang out too and our kids become friends.
The key is to be yourself. Be polite, sincere, and welcoming. People gravitate towards kind people and if they don't then keep moving on. Modeling this behavior is the best way to show your child how to be social in appropriate ways. You already have a number of things in common: having kids around the same age, going to the same school, etc. Talk about things that interest you as a female/wife/mom. You might be surprised how easy it is to click with others. I wouldn't feel comfortable letting my child go to a friend's house until I knew the family pretty well, so I would plan on inviting them over to my house or doing an activity some place together to break the ice first.Good luck!
HTH,
A.

T.S.

answers from San Francisco on

I'm sure all the families are perfectly nice people.
Chat with them on the phone when setting up the play date, and the first time you drop your son off walk him to the door and chat again for a few minutes before leaving. That should be sufficient to give you a sense of what they're like.
You will get to know these people over time. Even if you don't become friends yourselves you'll get into a groove of who you feel comfortable having over and vice versa :)

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T.V.

answers from San Francisco on

How about having a short "first" playdate and in your case, invite Grandman and put out a few sandwhiches, coffee, milk, some cookies, and see how it goes?

Not that complicated.....if you child is invited to their home, then you go with him the first time.

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J.S.

answers from Seattle on

Clearly I'm going against the grain on this one... but I don't really understand your concern. What do you think will happen at a a play date with parents you, "don't really KNOW" that would be any different from parents you THINK you know.

The kids will play, they may argue or yell at one another, or they may not. They might even have a physical altercation and the other parents will have to break it up. They could eat a snack you disapprove of, or maybe they'll watch TV. But in the end, does it really matter? They're kids. If something happens that you don't approve of, you can weigh the consequences and if necessary, decide to call the parents to talk about it later.

If you want your son to be more social don't hold him back by creating false barriers. What are you afraid of? You're not ever going to KNOW all the people who enter his life. If you're truly worried, focus on teaching your son what you think is acceptable behavior -- no touching private parts, we don't hit one another, we don't yell at one another, call 911 if you ever feel threatened, call home if you're not having fun, etc. -- and then let him be a kid.

S.G.

answers from Grand Forks on

We did drop off. We usually met parents when we were picking up/dropping off at school, chatted with them on the phone when arranging the play date, and had a quick chat at the door when dropping off at the play date.

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A.V.

answers from Washington DC on

You could invite him and a parent to join you at the park, or you could call the parent and say that your son would really like to have x child over to play and you would like to chat with Mom or Dad to make sure everyone is comfortable with it. We've gotten to know most of the sks friends either by school events, phone calls or chats at drop off/pickup. We don't know them as well as our friends, but we know them well enough to host their kid and when we are comfortable in reverse, then our child can go there.

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C.B.

answers from San Francisco on

Approach the grandma and ask her about a playdate. She can then ask the parents.

Once kids get to be older, like 5, they can talk so I don't worry so much about really having to know the parents beyond the pick-up/drop-off chit chat.

And to be honest, you really don't KNOW the parents, even if you have spent hours chatting with them. You don't ever truly KNOW anyone until you've lived with them at the very least and have see them in all sorts of situations and environments.

Just look at old Jerry Sandusky - how many parents put their trust and faith in him with their kids and look what he did. Or catholic priests. Again, you really DON'T know someone until you live with them at the very least.

Thinking you know someone because you've spent a few hours here and there with them is a false sense of security.

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C.R.

answers from Seattle on

I am in this SAME boat right now with my daughter's little friend from preschool!! It's hard too because if they have other siblings then what about that added issue? My daughter's preschool BFF has 3 other siblings. I've been thinking about seeing if she wants to go to the children's museum not far from our house. That way the girls can play and she can bring her littlest one too (the others are in elementary school). Then I just figure we can go from there. Is something like this an option for you? Just say something like, "We were planning to go the museum one day next week and our kids seemed to have hit it off, so I was wondering if you'd like to go too."

My mom takes my daughter to preschool once a week and would be more than happy to let me know that someone was asking for a play date with my kidlet. She gives me the rundown of every detail from when she drops her off and picks her up. I'm a bit neurotic, wanting to know every detail, but I'm sure this kiddo's grandparents would be happy to let the mom know about a play date, too. Good luck!

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D.F.

answers from Boston on

When my kids were invited at that age. I went with them. I have been told on several occasions its ok for me to leave. I have said I do not leave my children when I do not know the parents. I have made some great friends and sometimes they were never invited back. lol

L.S.

answers from Fort Collins on

We were in a similar situation last year. I support those that have suggested meeting somewhere - park, etc. Group play dates are another fun idea!

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C.M.

answers from St. Louis on

My daughter had one little boy from daycare over when she was 3 and one little boy from preschool when she was 4. Both times it was HER idea to have them over. I knew the daycare mom a bit more than the preschool mom but corresponded through email with both of them and with the daycare boy, the dad dropped him off and picked him up a few hours later. With the preschool boy, the mom stayed. But she also said her son had problems with sharing, transitions, etc and she didn't want me to have to deal with that. The preschool visit was about an hour and a half long. I am glad we did those playdates but I would not be comfortable sending my daughter to just any child's house for a playdate. I would prefer to meet in public or have them over or go to their house and chat with the parents while the kids play.

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