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Why I'm Not Inviting Your Kid Back on a Playdate

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Guest blogger Casey: I'm one of the fun moms. I'm the mom that kids hug at after-school pickup; the one who's happy to host frequent playdates that include crafts, trips to the park and -- if you're lucky -- a sundae bar and movie night. I like kids, and I like having my kids' friends over. But while I'm pretty tolerant of most kid (and adult) behaviors, I do have my limits. If I haven't invited your kid over lately, this could be why:


You don't reciprocate. I'm not a tit-for-tat kind of mom, and I don't expect you to have my kid over every time I invite yours to play. But when I've had your child once a week for the entire summer, I'd love for you to at least have a polite interest in entertaining my kid once in a great while.

Your kid breaks our toys. 
Messes are expected during a playdate, and it's normal for toys to get broken now and then. But if your kid is the type to completely disregard my kids' favorite possessions -- constantly misusing them until they break -- then my budget can't support hosting your kid until he learns how to play more appropriately.

Your kid is mean to my kid's sibling. In a perfect world, a playdate would always include the older or younger sibling. I know we don't live in a perfect world, but respect and kindness are still expected at my house. If I discover your kid constantly trying to manipulate a younger sibling or cruelly teasing an older one, we'll forget your phone number faster than you can say "bully."

You disappear. Three hours means three hours (with a grace period of about 30 minutes). I don't care if you got stuck in line at Walmart; you need to be here at the agreed-upon time. I'm happy to give you a few hours of free time while our kids play, but we are not running a free babysitting service.

Your kid picks on our pets. We have a lot of pets at our house, and they're a lot of fun to play with. We've got rules about how and when our pets can be handled, though, for the safety of kids and animals alike. If your kid can't follow those rules despite frequent and consistent reminders -- or if I catch him being purposefully cruel even once -- that's a deal breaker for me.

Your kid needs to be entertained. I don't expect to be able to relax during a playdate, but I also don't expect to involved, either. Sure, we'll probably plan a game or a craft, but for most of the playdate, the kids need to do what kids do best: Go and play. If your kid is spending more time with me than with my kids -- or worse, whining -- that's a sign to me that he isn't ready for our kind of playdate. 

Am I too harsh?  Or have you been-there-done-that? Share your worst playdates by commenting below.

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22 comments so far | Post a comment now
Kristen June 8, 2010, 3:50 AM

Love this article, I feel the EXACT same way.

Lorie June 8, 2010, 5:56 AM

Oh! I hate breakers! Kids that are just unusually rough or enjoy ruining things.

Melinda June 8, 2010, 6:15 AM

I agree with all those points. Also, add in the parents that never return the favor with a playdate at their house. I’ve experienced a few of those over the past 15 years as a parent. It gets worse when they get older and can just show up at your house..and stay all day…everyday for an entire summer. I wanted to bill the parents for the 3 meal plan their kids were getting. :P

Tasha  June 8, 2010, 7:22 AM

I agree with everything & more that should be added.. Also there are parents &/ children that has finally included you child/children in play dates/other entertainment, that has totally ignored the fact that you’ve always been there for parent & child/children…then they remind you of everything they’ve done & talk about it to every other person in their circle. I don’t like that either.

Mama D June 8, 2010, 7:54 AM

YES! TOTALLY! This is perfect. I might add, too, that I cannot stand it when people bring their kids over who are obviously sick: runny noses and etc., and say, “TEETHING!” or “ALLERGIES!”

Sometimes, yes, that’s what it is. Othertimes? Not so much. Just a poor mama wanting desperately to get out of the house. I get it, but also, as a single mom in school with two kids (one with asthma) we NOW make it clear BEFORE the playdate that a possible cold or runny nose is a deal breaker.

Had a neighbor who would send his daughter over at our dinnertime because he wouldn’t/couldn’t make her dinner… it was sad and weird and I did feel that he was taking advantage. (We are on a tight budget but who can begrudge an extra bowl of man and cheese!?) I always fed her and made her welcome, but finally called and told him to call first before sending her over.

It was so sad. Made me glad, though, that I am the mom in the ‘hood who kids know they can come to for safety and a bite to eat. I want my kids to be proud of that and model it when they are older. Be a resource for those less fortunate and so on.

But also want them to see their mama model boundaries! Thanks for a great post.

they're always here June 8, 2010, 9:00 AM

This came at the right time. My daughter has recently made friends with a boy in our neighbhor and every day he comes over. Now, I have always said that I would much rather have kids come to my house so that I know what my kids are doing but for the past couple of weeks, he stays later and later and I can’t tell you how many times I have fed him. If my kids go over to their friends house, I usually will call them back after 3 hours so I never understand parents who let their kids stay at my house for 6 or 7 hours at a time. Really, aren’t they missing lunch or dinner in that time frame???

sew mom June 8, 2010, 9:32 AM

You said it! I’m glad somebody did!

martinimama June 8, 2010, 11:42 AM

Excellent points! I have a friend who divorced a few years ago….our kids have grown up together and we frequently have play dates. I have recently had to start declining her requests because her son has started bullying my son and telling lies to try to get him in trouble. He doesn’t do this when he is with his dad, only when he is with her. So now we are busy when she wants to get together or I keep the play dates very short and supervise a lot.

daisy June 8, 2010, 11:48 AM

This is all good, but it’d be much better if you all could communicate to the other parents. How do I know my kid is breaking stuff or bullying the sibling if you don’t tell me? Please let me know the problems so I can work with my child to fix them.

Christina June 8, 2010, 1:40 PM

Trust me, Daisy, they’ve been told.

Black Iris June 8, 2010, 1:52 PM

I agree with all the points except the sibling one. In my experience, when a kid and her playdate gang up on a sibling, the playdate isn’t the one who’s starting it. It’s more likely that your kid is pulling the playdate into being mean.

Lisa R. June 8, 2010, 2:17 PM

Good article & well written! I couldn’t agree more. I really dislike when kids are mean when their mom isn’t looking, or when you try to tell the mom & get nothing in response. No one’s kid is perfect, & to act like your kid would never do such a thing is simple bad parenting. Makes for a bad kid. It’s not the kid’s fault, but that’s who pays the price. I especially agree with the one about the mom who disappears. When I expect you back at four & you don’t show up until six, how do you convince yourself that’s OK? I know we all need a break now & then, but be fair…and reciprocal.

L U June 8, 2010, 2:52 PM

I agree with all these deal-breakers. My daughter has a neighborhood friend who comes over and immediately asks for food AND is a horribly picky eater. No thanks!

Jen June 8, 2010, 3:00 PM

My worst ones are those that come over and then take my kids toys home with them and then lie about it. We had a child who would come over a bunch and sadly she did not have many toys at home. My child has many because she is an only child and she gets before I do. We both love electronic games so I spoil her with video games, etc.

This playdate came over and has taken several of these games. We got all but one back and she keeps denying she took it. Sad thing is this toy is no good unless the other part (it has two consoles) is with it. So now neither girl can play with it and the 25 bucks I spent is gone.

This child cannot come in my house any more until the toy is returned. Oh and worse than that the child’s mom sticks up for child even after she has taken other toys from my dd.


Katie June 8, 2010, 3:43 PM

This is so familiar to me. My house is the fun house and I am happy to have kids come over and play. Great article Casey!
Daisy - Parents know when their kids are awful guests. Kids normally behave better for other parents than their own. So the parents know!

Monica June 9, 2010, 12:09 AM

I agree with every one of them. Especially the broken toys and the whining and not being able play without issues. I have a friend with two kids who comes over every blue moon. And when those two come over either a toy ends up broken. Or either one of them are back and forth over who can’t play right and who’s not sharing. They lie on each other about who started what and who hit who. Its like gosh you two can’t play without constant supervision. One whines and the others a tattle tell. By the end I feel overwhelmed and I feel like I just don’t want to be around her kids because they get on my last nerve.

jane June 9, 2010, 8:27 AM

Great article, and so true!
@ Daisy: They truly have been told.
@ Black Iris: I disagree completely, and I have four daughters, and have been the go to mom for 20 years, and still am.
@ Katie: I would say ten years ago, parents knew about their kids…I do not agree anymore. The parents of my younger two are so very different than those of my older two. Parents today do not spend as much time with their kids as they used to, and when they are, they are hooked up to their phone. Damaging effects with the teens and toddlers alike. There…but not so…really.

And…interestingly enough…there were never any damaging effects to my kids, as the so called experts claimed there would be, when a kid was banned from our house. All kids who enter are responsible for their behavior, and get a few tries at it before banned. And…when the parents were spoken to, I was usually labeled as too strict…HA! Teens know the rules..cells on the buffet…and no internet unless asked and approved. It works!

Thanks Casey for the article!

Natasha June 10, 2010, 12:39 AM

I consider you could write a dissertation about playdates! :)
You are right one hundred per cent with these rules!

oreo July 27, 2010, 9:02 PM

i hate when these two 2 and 3 year olds and their mother, just come into our house and takes it over. and her kids are addicted to our little kitten. he hisses at them every time they come. but they still dont leave him alone after i tell them a million times to. even thought i am not an adult, just a child, i still dont want immiture little kids coming into our house and obssesing over our cat! i feel soo sorry for my cat that he has to stand those to little wack jobs.!!!!!!
i hate them! dont you feel my pain??????!!!!!!!

oreo July 27, 2010, 9:05 PM

sorry for “to” i ment two

plz comment back!

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