How To Deal With The Play Date Parent You Absolutely Can’t Stand
People. Ugh, right? People can be such a pain in the ass. Particularly people with kids. You should know because you have a kid. That totally awesome fact puts you in very close quarters with other people that have kids. And while some of these people are totally cool, others are very uncool. Very.
But the thing is, you don’t get to decide which of these people you hang out with. Your kid decides for you. Because the people you will inevitably spend time with are the ones with kids that your kid likes. These are “other parents” and it’s the luck of the draw whether you’ll dig them or not. So what happens when you can’t deal with the other parents you’re forced to see all the time? You may not like the answer.
Why Other Parents (Might) Suck
To be fair they don’t all suck. (After all, clearly you don’t suck.) That said, if “other dad” can’t keep from correcting you about “the best whiskey” while staring at your partner’s ass, you just might flip. And if “other mom” doesn’t stop spouting fake news, you could possibly lose your mind.
There are plenty of reasons you might not get on with the parents of your kid’s best pal. Most of them will likely be for superficial, largely annoying-just-to-yourself reasons. Some will be fundamental disagreements with their rules or parenting style. Either way, you’ll have to deal with it somehow. Here are some suggestions.
Get Over It
Guess what, buttercup? It’s not about you! It’s about your kid developing bonds of friendship and learning how to have interpersonal relationships. These are skills they’ll need for the rest of their life. So what if Mr. So And So thinks Timothy Dalton was the best James Bond (an opinion which is, obviously, insane)? Brush that crap off. Maybe you 2 can just crack a beer and talk about something else, while the kids are having a grand old time. Or better yet, not talk at all.flickr / quinn norton
Make Interacting Harder
The bigger the playgroup, the further you can get from the other parent. At least that’s how the saying goes. So why not buffer your interaction by bringing other, cooler, parents into the play date mix?
If your kid and their pal want to just hang out together, make suggestions that will put you and the other parent in public places. Think of places where there’s plenty of other stuff to distract you. Movies require silence for instance. So do museums. Maybe stop short of monasteries or graveyards.
Sometimes the other parent might recognize your relative coolness and want to hang out or chat outside of play dates. In this case, just make yourself always busy. Even if you aren’t. Pleasantly and politely let them know you’re busy. Like, all the time. They’ll figure it out.
If the attention from the other parent is coming in the form unwanted flirting, can you blame her? More importantly, schedule play dates so that your partner, and not your own damn charming self, is the one on duty.flickr / Randy Levine
Don’t Talk Smack
You probably want your kid to grow up to be a well-adjusted person who wouldn’t say something nasty behind someone’s back. If that’s the case, then you need to model the right behavior. Keep conversation on your kid’s friend. Leave the other parent out of it.
Rules Are Rules
Sometimes the issue you have with the other parent is about their rules. You need to stress to your kid that houses are like little kingdoms. The parents are the royalty and they make the rules that both subjects and visitors must follow. So if they don’t eat meat on Friday, then your kid should not whine about wanting a hamburger. If the TV is only turned on for a single episode of Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood, then your kid shouldn’t ask for more.
On the other hand, if the aggravation with the other parent is that they are playing fast and loose with the rules, you have the right to make a request. Simply ask that they call you before subjecting your kid to the director’s cut of The Devil’s Rejects, no matter how educational they feel it is.flickr / Randy Levine
If you managed to get into some weird kind of dysfunctional and highly annoying friendship with the other parent, it might be time to cut them loose. You’ll approach this like your standard break up. Granted, you may not have had one of those in awhile, but the key is to be direct, simple and firm with your boundaries.
A Matter Of Safety
There are legitimate times when you could be justified in severing ties with the other parent completely. That’s particularly true in cases where you suspect drug use, neglect, or abusive behaviors. Trust your gut. Your kid’s safety is absolutely more important than anything else.
If you honestly feel the behavior could be endangering your kid’s friend too, whether from neglect or abuse, do the right thing and call the authorities. There may be an extraordinarily rare time when getting involved in the other parent’s business could save a life.
In the end, the best protocol is to simply be chill. You are a person too. And there might be some things the other parent doesn’t like about you. Make an effort. The last thing you want to do is damage your kid’s growing friendship. Even if you could never ever have one with the other parent.