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I’m facing a dilemma, a play date dilemma. It involves a friend of Helen, my daughter, someone she knows from a weekend activity club she sometimes attends.

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I don’t want to leave a child out of my daughter’s planned gathering, but her presence could cause issues. What would you do?

I know this child reasonably well. She’s always polite, a great character and we have never had any problems on play dates or other social occasions that she’s been invited to when she’s come on her own.

My daughter asked if she could have a small group of friends round to our house to play during the summer break. I say small, she wanted about eight people. I agreed to half that number because eight is perilously close to hosting a full-on party and that’s just too many people.

This child was among those she wanted to invite. Fine, no problems. Or so I thought.

Then the stories started coming out: “She doesn’t get along with such and such…..she says I can’t play this game / that game…..she won’t play with X.”

It seems there’s history between this kid and all the other kids Helen wanted to invite. It’s exactly the kind of problem I expected to face as my kids get older, but now I’m facing it, I’m genuinely quite troubled, mostly because of the circumstances.

As with all such dilemmas, there’s a bit of backstory. I know this child is experiencing some turbulence in her home life, issues that are completely beyond her control and that no child should have to experience. It’s not the first time I’ve seen a child’s behavior affected because of problems at home and it certainly won’t be the last (although I wish it were).

I don’t want to exclude this kid because of what’s happening at home. I also don’t want to invite someone on a play date who may be disruptive and create problems for the other kids coming along.

I have to think about myself here as well. Mrs Adams would almost certainly be at work so I’d be managing this little jamboree on my own. I hope this doesn’t sound selfish, but I simply don’t need the pressure.

Thankfully, I have only ever had the one play date go awry and that was some years ago. On that occasion, a kid had a complete meltdown because she didn’t get her way over something. She was very rude to my daughter and threw a book across her bedroom.

That was difficult enough to deal with. I don’t want to invite four kids along if there’s potential for one of them to be disruptive and create issues among the others. It makes it stressful for me and potentially ruins the occasion for everyone.

There’s another aspect to this. If the stories filtering back to me are accurate and true, this child has to learn and accept such behaviour isn’t acceptable, no matter what is going on at home. Harsh as it sounds, maybe she has to miss the odd social gathering so she can appreciate poor behavior has consequences?

I think I know how I’m going to play this. She’s not going to be invited to the little gathering, but she will get invited to a play date with my daughter shortly afterwards.

Ultimately, I think this is the best of a bad situation.  I really, really don’t want to leave this kid out because of what’s happening in her home life. I have no doubt this is a stage she is going through, one that will pass. I don’t, however, want to run the risk of something going wrong at this little gathering.

The question I have for you mums and dads is: what would you do? I can’t decide if I’m handling this totally wrong. Maybe I should have more faith that the kids will police this themselves? Then again, maybe there is no right or wrong answer.


8 thoughts on “A very awkward play date dilemma”

  1. I was going to suggest exactly as you have done – if the kid has difficulties with the other friends she’s going to feel it too and its not going to be enjoyable for any of them. Arrange a play date with this girl thats a bit spoily – poor girl sounds like she could do with a bit of love and positive attention.

  2. I think you knew the answer before you started writing.

    Personally I think you need to text the parents to tell them to sort their sh!t out and be clear that the child has been disinvited for their behaviour. That’s what to do if you really want to send a message….

  3. I don’t really think there’s any other way that you could handle it… I wouldn’t want the child excluded either, but I wouldn’t want her to ruin the fun of my daughter and her other friends…

    But I also agree with Victoria that maybe your daughter and this girl should have a more “spoily” play date. It might actually help turn her attitude around if she feels a bit of compassion from somewhere other than her home?

    1. I like this idea of a spoily play date. Glad you agree I’m handling it appropriately. It really has been quite challenging for me.

  4. I agree with with what’s been said above. My 7/8 year old is friends with a kid in our neighbourhood who is a couple of years older than him and who’s presence often causes division and fallout between the other children but I found out recently that he is adopted (his parents are lovely) and that he has foetal alcohol syndrome from his birth mother. My son on the whole adores this kid so it is difficult to say no to having him around. The other side of the coin is that I am struggling to prevent emotional abuse from happening to my own children via their father who is using very negative language and behaviour around them and I fear that it will end up being *my* child who others will think twice about inviting. I don’t think that is the case right now as I’ve had feedback that my son is well behaved away from home which is a relief but yes, children who are going through a hard time definitely need to be treated as normally and compassionately as possible. I would also question the above suggestion about approaching the parents in an accusatory way. No one really knows what goes on behind closed doors.

    1. First of all Sam, hello and welcome back! Good to hear from you. I would ask how things are going….but I fear your response kinda answers that question. Hope things settle down for you. Why do people have to behave like that following a break up? it’s so sad. Anyway, compassion is the way forward I feel.

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