My oldest is just entering the age of play dates. And while I know most of the parents whose houses he visits, there are some (and I’m sure more come) who I don’t know as well. I’ve often wondered how to broach certain topics with the hosting mom without offending her. Guns and swimming pools are probably my top fears when it comes to sending my child to someone else’s house. But how do you say, “Now, I’m sure you’re not going to let my child near your swimming pool unattended, right?” without sounding like an overprotective mom who’s also judging another’s parenting abilities.
I saw a similar question raised in the July issue of Parents, one of my favorite parenting magazines: How do you ask another parent about guns in their house? The statistics shocked me–there are guns in 40 percent of homes with young children, and the weapons are loaded and accessible to kids in about half of those homes. Reading that made me know it’s a question I have to ask. Forget the awkwardness; it’s my child’s safety.
I liked the advice of the expert in the article. Gary Smith, M.D., Dr.PH., director of the Center for Injury Research and Policy at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio, recommends sticking to a script like this one: “I have a question I ask all parents when Kyle goes to a new person’s house. Do you have any guns in your house, and if you do, are they stored unloaded and locked with the ammunition locked in a separate location? Kyle is so curious, and I worry that he wouldn’t recognize the potential danger if he came across a weapon.”
I’m sure there are a few parents who might think you’re crazy or take offensive, but most I know would completely understand. After all, every parent wants to do everything possible to keep his or her child safe.
What about you? Have you ever had to ask the tough questions of a play date’s parent?