Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Playdate Etiquette for Moms? by Cara Meyers

My son is a very social child. I love the fact that he is social. First because he makes a friend or two just about everywhere we go, which keeps him entertained. Second, because it forces me to come out of my shell and drum up casual conversation with other Moms, which sometimes even lead to friendships for both of us.

But what do you do when your son has found his “new best friend” and you know in your heart that you just don’t “click” with that child’s Mom. What type of “etiquette” is warranted in situations like this? And where and how do you draw the line so that your child can still have playdates with his friend, while minimizing contact with the Mom in question?

I must say, my son has many friends, and I honestly enjoy the company of his friend’s Moms while we supervise their playdate. But my son has a new friend he adores; a polite, kind, happy child who gets along with my son beautifully. His Mom, on the other hand, is quite another story. I have to admit that I cringe when she suggests we all go somewhere for an outing or a special playdate. It’s not that she isn’t a nice person, we just doesn’t “click.” We share different philosophies about parenting, she comes from a completely different ethnic culture, which I normally would relish learning more about, but she makes assumptions that her ethnic culture is somewhat superior to all others. She is rather close-minded and frequently dominates our conversations. I feel belittled and exhausted from trying to be diplomatic throughout listening to her dissertations. I wish Miss Manners had a suggestion for how to handle the etiquette of such a situation.

My first approach, since my son’s friend lives only blocks away, was to have his Mom drop my son’s friend off at our home for a few hours to play. So the house turned into a tornado. Better that than two hours of listening to unsolicited opinions I have no interest in. Even better is when this Mom reciprocates and invites my son over to her home! A couple hours of peace and I make sure that my son cleans up before he leaves her home.

Still, I get those calls,”The boys are off next week, how about taking them to the farm?” Or, “If you have some free time over the weekend, let’s go for lunch and then see a movie with the boys?” What makes this worse is that this Mom usually presents the idea to her son who relates it to my son before I even get the call. Then I look like “Mommy Meanest” to my child if I don’t relent. And relent I do. Because my son is so incredibly happy with his “best friend.”

I’ve even tried the rude cell phone approach: Call someone and have a lengthy conversation while our children are playing. Or texting my husband so that I only have to HALF pay attention to this Mom. Still, she drones on and on about nothingness. I swear, I want to go home and take a nap after these playdates!

So, what WOULD Miss Manners do under these types of circumstances? Well, I consulted the 17th Edition of “Etiquette,” written by Emily Post’s granddaughter, Peggy Post.
Here she says, “The lesson here is to kill ‘em with kindness. By keeping your cool, you’re teaching by example, such as a parent does for a child.” So, I guess what I am really doing is supervising a playdate of THREE children. And I have to teach all of them by my example of staying levelheaded and remaining calm yet kind. Is this what Miss Manners would REALLY do? What do you think? And how would YOU handle this type of situation?
NOTE: Cara is wearing an exclusive t-shirt design available for sale in the Shop on

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