You asked

Should I get to know my child's friends parents?

It’s a common and very natural fear among parents to worry about your child going to a friend’s house when you don’t know the parents. How do parents find out about other people’s families and homes in order to decide whether they would feel safe sending their child there for a play date?

One mother decided to host a coffee morning early in the school and invited all the mothers of the girls in her class. It proved a really great way to get to know the mothers as her daughter would be playing with their daughters.

Other ideas that we have heard include, carpooling, coaching a sports team or getting involved in events run by the school. Some parents will just take a direct approach and visit their child’s friend’s house and get to know the other parents.

What matters most?
Your child will be in the home of someone you don't know.  As a parent, you want to know that your child is safe, speaking to the other parents about rules can help ease any fears.

Speak to your child and to the parents whose home he will be in about your standards and expectations on issues such as:

• Media usage

• Alcohol, tobacco or other drugs

• Appropriate and inappropriate activities

• Where it’s ok to play

• Whether you are comfortable with other people being present such as relatives, older siblings, family friends etc.

Many parents feel uncomfortable with the idea of broaching these subjects with other parents but it’s important to remember that most parents will feel exactly the same. Setting out expectations in advance will assure peace of mind and make the experience far more positive for everyone.

You should also make sure that your children understand that they must contact you immediately if they have any concerns or feel uncomfortable during the play-date.

In most circumstances, your child’s friend’s parents will have the same expectations and feel the same way you do. They will also want the playdates to be a positive and fun experience for the children involved. They will want their child to develop a positive friendship with your child.

More questions

When you ask your child about their school day, try to use open-ended questions. An open-ended question will invite answers that are longer than just ‘yes’, ‘no’ or ‘OK’.
When you tell your child that it’s time for bed and all you hear back is, “You’re stupid!” Does this mean that you have years ahead of you of being back-chatted?
Most parents worry about their child going to a friend's house when they don't know the parents. 
There are many ways that you can help your child make friends at school. 
Being put down is never fun, and if it’s happening to your child at school, you need to find out why, and what you can do to help.



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