The Family Project: Son’s first play date should include mother
Q. My six-year-old has asked to have a play date with another child in the neighborhood. I have been reluctant and make excuses when he asks because the mother is a recovering drug addict. How do I explain this to my son without giving him the details?
While the panel urged parents to be vigilant, pay attention to what their children are doing, and listen to their instincts, it also had comments about the mother’s concern about the need to explain things to her son.
“Whatever the mother is assigning to the other mom, the six-year-old doesn’t need to know,” panelist Mike Daniels said, adding, “He just wants to play with his friend.”
Said panelist Mike Ramsey, “Short of not letting her son play with anyone, there is no way to avoid potential drama in life. There are plenty of family dynamics and other situations that create drama whether drug addiction is involved or not.”
Ramsey and panelist Wanda Mercado-Arroyo urged against judging the other mother until getting to know her.
Mercado-Arroyo suggested an open play date in a park, or some other public place, where both mothers could meet and talk.
“It is not unusual for two parents to get together while their kids play for a couple of hours,” Ramsey said, adding, “The mother can see how things go, and make a decision from there.”
Panelist Bahar Mallah recommended initially having a conversation with the other mother when she can explain what her expectations are and what ground rules she has for her son.
Panelist Chad Stefanyak said there are many kinds of play dates. It seems that the mother is assuming it would be at the other child’s home. The first play date doesn’t have to be there.
Stefanyak also said he had a feeling that the parent is approaching the play date as a major commitment. “A play date isn’t a lifelong commitment. This may be just a one-time thing,” said Stefanyak.
This week’s team of parenting experts are: Pam Wallace, program coordinator, Project Child, a program of Valley Youth House; Denise Continenza, extension educator; Mike Ramsey, program supervisor, Valley Youth House; Mike Daniels, LCSW, Psychotherapist; Chad Stefanyak, school counselor; Wanda Mercado-Arroyo, educator and former school administrator, and Bahar Mallah, family practice therapist.
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The Family Project is a collaboration of the Lehigh Valley Press Focus section and Valley Youth House’s Project Child.
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