General Etiquette > Family and Children

How do I facilitate my child's friendship when I distrust the friend's parent?

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I would probably just tell the family that I am very protective and will not let my child have play dates away from me. 

Arrange play dates for public places like the library, the movies, fast food playgrounds, parks, and museums.  Host your daughter's friend at your house, but find strategic reasons why your child can't go to her friends.  I think you have to trust your instincts when it comes to trusting people with your kids.

My mom, who is mostly raising my niece, has the same issue with the little girl across the street. Sweet girl, parents seem reasonably loving and all but make some lifestyle choices (smoking, loud but good natured arguments in front of the kids) that make mom a bit nervous. She's got it established with them that 90% of the time, the girls play either at mom's house, or somewhere else (a park, for example). The few times that niece is over across the street, it's daylight hours, for short periods of time, and mom is very careful to make sure she walks niece over to see that things are as they should be before she leaves.

It's hard when then parents don't have the same values as you in terms of health and safety issues. You can compromise some, if you feel that you are safe doing so, but trust your gut. Also, consider that you may be doing this little girl a huge favor, developmentally, by modeling more socially acceptable behavior, so she knows that her family isn't the norm - she may be able to make choices more clearly as she grows up when the societal norm and her family norm are in conflict, knowing that there IS room for variation.

Good luck!

I can't tell the family that I am over-protective, as it would clearly be a lie and this hyper-vigilant parent would notice. B already knows that A is allowed to go to other children's house for playdates, because they have talked about it. A will continue to have playdates and discuss them with B, who is her friend and seatmate.

This family has been through real trauma and I feel sympathy for them, though I was uncomfortable being offered documentation of that trauma by a near-stranger. In response to that trauma, the parent seems to have gone overboard protective, to the point of perceiving several abduction attempts by strangers that were probably imagined and training a first grader to use weapons in self defense. I would hate to cause offense, and I think offense will easily be taken. The concern is the parent's mental stability, so I can't mention the concern to the parent. I don't think the parent would harm my child, I believe the parent would go to extreme lengths to protect any child. But I am uneasy about leaving my child in the care of someone whose perceptions of reality seem unreliable, and I am concerned with the over-sharing of traumatic stories with small children.

Sheila, how did you manage to decline reciprocal invitations without causing offense? Did you tell the mother the real reasons? Did you tell you child? Was your child old enough to be tactful and not repeat your reasons to the friend and parent?

Because I am a fairly laid-back parent and because I really want my child to be exposed to true diversity as much as possible, I never thought I would have this sort of problem. Also, this child reminds me of me as a child, and I know that outside stable adults changed the course of my life for the better, I do want to help this girl.

If the other family has weapons in the house, I think that's a valid point.  'We're not comfortable with Daughter being around weapons'.  It's true, it's not judging their choices, and it makes a solid point. 


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