It's the sort of thing mothers think but don't say out loud. So I'm going to say it. There are times when your kid comes home from school babbling about a new friend that leave you cold. THAT kid? Really? My kid had to make friends with THAT kid? The one whose dad is in prison/mom cooks meth/uncle is the village idiot?
Go ahead, Moms and Dads, let it out. You've thought it. And if you haven't, I've got a question for you.
Are you afraid someone will call you a snob? That's what happened when a star of the British version of The Apprentice admitted she won't let her kids play with kids she thinks are "beneath them." They called her everything but a nice person.
Granted, Katie Hopkins didn't exactly make the best case for picking your kids' friends when she admitted she judges other kids on things as superficial as their names (she prefers kids with Victorian names or monikers of Latin or Greek derivation because she thinks their parents must be better educated). And forbidding her kids from playing with children who own iPods or iPads does sound, well, snobby!
I wouldn't go that far.
My daughter has friends with names my husband and I never would have chosen. She has a friend who participates in pageants even though I'm not a fan. She has friends whose parents don't make as much money as my husband and I (and some who make much more). I could go on and on, but you get the point. We're not looking to homogenize her childhood, and we know we put our pants on the same way as everyone else.
But I think there's something to be said for looking at the families of the children your child interacts with on a daily basis. Do those families share the same values or will they counteract your discipline? Do they provide a safe place for your child to play? Should you really foster a friendship that extends beyond the schoolyard?
It's not snobby to ponder these questions; it's realistic.
Just last week a mom on the CafeMom boards confessed she's banned her kids from sleeping over at the neighbors' house after her daughters came home covered in bug bites. Moms overwhelmingly supported her decision.
Why? Because the deplorable conditions in that other family's house were hurting her child.
Is it classist to keep your kids from having a playdate at a home that's not as nice as yours? If you're turning up your nose at a family that doesn't have as many bedrooms as you do, then yes. If you took one look at the jungle of rust buckets in their front yard and felt your safety radar go off, then no.
I don't want my kid coming home from a playdate with scabies ... or much worse.
I also don't want my daughter hanging around unsavory characters, the sort of people who think nothing of exposing kids to drugs or telling lewd jokes in front of a little girl.
So yes, I do limit who my daughter has playdates with. Not because I'm a snob but because I'm responsible for raising my daughter.
It's my job to keep her safe, and sometimes that means making tough calls ... like telling her she can be school friends with some kids ... and that's it.
How do you decide who your child can play with and who they can't?
Image via stokes91/Flickr