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Thursday, February 2, 2012

Play Date Paranoia

by Seattle Jon (bio)

Compared to previous generations, parents today tend to be overprotective more protective of their children. We want to protect them from harm, from hurt and pain, from unhappiness, bad experiences and rejection, from hurt feelings, failure and disappointments. As mormons, we tend to compound this by being hyper-sensitive toward language, media and sexuality. This all sounds admirable, but sometimes I wonder what experiences my children are prevented from having due to the walls of protectiveness we put up.

Take play dates for example. Our two oldest (11, 10) are schooled outside of the public school system, which has allowed us a higher degree of interaction with the parents of their school friends. We interact with them socially, have heard them vocalize the standards they set for their own kids and have been in their homes and witnessed that the standards enforced in the home are the same ones preached in public. This consistency makes it easy for us to feel comfortable sending our own kids over for play dates.

Our youngest (5) was in public school (until recently), where interaction with other parents is limited and not meaningful. So imagine our surprise when we get a letter from the parents of one of Noah's "buddies" inviting him over for a play date. The letter introduced the family (and pets), talked about how they raise they children and laid out a detailed schedule for the play date. The letter put us at ease and allowed us to comfortably reach out to the family and get something on the calendar. What a great idea!

What does everyone think? Are we too protective as parents? How have you gotten comfortable with play dates?

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