Play Date Parents -- Do You Really Trust Them With Your Kid?

Cynthia Dermody
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toddler playing ball

Photo by seeemoregirl

I just got an email from a mom I scheduled a play date with for today who gave me the best news of the day: I don't have to stay. I can drop my daughter off and leave.

You know what this means, don't you? Two words: sweet freedom.

Now that my daughter is on the older side of toddlerhood -- she's 5, but still in preschool -- I'm finding that I'm not required to be present at every birthday party or play date. The older my children get, the more dispensations I get to drop off and leave. And what a magical, wonderful thing that is.

It means I don't have to sit and make polite conversation about what I do, how hard it is to balance job and family, where I shop for kids' clothes, and all the other standard blah blah blah that you talk about over tea on play dates.

It means I can grab a tea all by myself. It means I can go back home and watch an hour of TV ... alone. It means I can go to the grocery store ... alone ... without having to move at warp speed through the candy aisle.

Plenty of moms I know would not feel comfortable leaving their young daughter at the home of people they don't really know. I know them. Our preschool class is a small, close-knit group. I just don't know them. Not like an uncle or a close friend. When do we trust anyone other than the parent completely with our child? Whether it's a friend's parent, a babysitter, a relative .. there's always going to be some modicum of doubt.

And remember, law enforcement types tell us that these are the people who are most likely to harm our children, the ones who know and see our kids all the time, the ones we trust the most and suspect the least. So by my thinking, the risk is the same. It's either take the risk, which I believe is very small, or never let my daughter go anywhere without me again. To me that's almost more nerve-wracking than the threat of abuse.

My little girl knows the rules, that there are only two people who are allowed to touch her private areas: Me, when I clean her or check for boo-boos, and herself. I tell her that the minute another adult mentions the word "secret" about anything, she's to report it immediately to me.

It's hard to trust others, so I need to try to trust my daughter more. But even that's difficult at times. But I know it's only going to get harder, so I figure it's a good thing to start practicing now.

Do you leave your child alone on play dates or do you insist on staying in the house? At what age do you think you'll feel comfortable dropping off at friends' and parties?

 

Other posts you'll like:

Parents on a Play Date (Be Nice!)

Confession: I Don't Arrange Play Dates for My Tot

 

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