Getting along with your toddler’s friends’ parents
In the early days of Baby life, you probably coordinated all of her playdates, scheduling them with your own friends’ children or with relatives. As she grows, though, so do the opportunities for her to form her own friendships, with less of your input. So, what do you do when Baby gets along with a certain child, but you don’t feel the same way about that child’s parents?
Consider the problem
First, you’ll want to think about why you don’t mesh with a certain set of parents, and whether it’s worth letting these issues get in the way of Baby’s new friendship. If it’s that you don’t see eye-to-eye on a subject like politics, for example, it’s probably workable to brush that aside for an hour a week. More immediate issues, like drug or alcohol abuse in the home, on the other hand, are problems you’ll want to steer clear of for the best interest of your child.
Plan playdates accordingly
If there are parents you’d prefer not to engage with extensively, you can often make an appropriate plan ahead of time to make sure you don’t get boxed into an interaction you’d rather avoid. Playdates at home, for example, lead to more conversation than an outing to the park. For playdates with parents whom you’re not in the mood to sit back and chat with, go for options that will keep you active and focused on Baby, like running around outdoors, while still allowing for her to play with her new friend.
Just because your children are friends doesn’t mean you and the parents need to become BFFs, too. If a parent starts calling you too often, or showing up unannounced to chat, it may be time to set some limits. A tactful way to approach this might be letting the person know you’re pleased about your child’s friendship with theirs, but unfortunately, you’re quite busy, so you’ll look forward to catching up at the next playdate.
Remember, Baby is learning much about her own interactions with others from watching you engage with your peers, so it’s important to keep it cordial. Don’t let on that there is bad blood between yourself and a certain parent, and keep conversations in front of her pleasant. Watching you be respectful will be a good model for her relationships with others.
Ultimately, it’s important to keep Baby’s best interests in mind when dealing with her friends’ parents. You don’t need to meet for coffee while they’re at daycare, nor do you have to invite them to your next dinner party, but making an effort to maintain a positive relationship can help your child’s friendships flourish. Interacting with her peers is crucial for Baby’s development, so if there is no risk of harm associated with the relationship, take the advice you’d give to your child and try to find the best in the person. You might end up pleasantly surprised!