The process of meeting a friend for the first time when you’re a kid goes a little something like this: meet someone, start playing, and you're best friends forever. Making friends as an adult?Way harder. But that’s because we have learned to throw up some guards, right? Some of them are the result of insecurities, and others are rather necessary forms of caution. Those little bits of wisdom along the way come in handy when your child wants to hang out with someone new, but what questions should you ask parents before a play date?
“With these questions, the goal is to get insight into how the other parent views parenting,” Candace Jones, a California-based family law attorney, tells Romper in an email interview. “The more invested they are in their children's education and the more thoughtful they are regarding discipline, the more likely they are safe for your child to be around.”
Jones recommends casually raising up disciplinary actions within your home and asking a parent how they would handle it. For example, she says: "Man, the other night Caitlyn kept getting up out of her bed after I put her to sleep. Have you had that problem before? What did you do?” You should also ask questions about their other children, like how many they have and what extracurricular activities they are involved in.
“Questions like these give you insight into how much the parent is investing into their child,” she says, adding that questions about their children’s teachers and homework load are also helpful to gain perspective on how invested they are with their children's education.
Stacy Pendarvis, program director at the Monique Burr Foundation for Children, tells Romper in an email interview that it is also important to ask about weapons, access to pools, alcohol, and so forth, making sure that they are secured or locked away. Pendarvis says you should also talk to parents about monitoring your child’s access to digital devices as well, including the number of hours of screen time they’re allowed and what websites and apps they can have access to.
It’s also important to have conversations with your child about how to handle themselves at a play date in order to ensure their safety and comfort. “Explain that while it’s OK for them to be around other people, swim, visit a neighborhood playground, or play online games, the adult you are leaving them with should always be present to supervise,” she says. Make sure to also remind them that the rules you establish apply at all times, whether they are at home or not, and ensure that they know how to contact you when they are away from home.
“With some precautions and important conversations with your child, and the adults they are with, your child will be able to spend time with others and stay safe,” Pendarvis says.
Sounds like a bit of comfort for you too, right? The more comfortable and confident you are with the other parents, the better you'll feel about your child having play dates, which means your kid will make healthy friendships. A win-win for everyone.