As much as we like as parents to control the friendships and bonds our children make during their younger years to correlate with adults that WE like to spend time with, it eventually becomes difficult to do so. Once you get passed the play date at the park years’ and neighborhood block parties, and enroll your child in the brick and mortar walls of education, your children begin to make friends of their own. Based on what THEY think, not you. And based on the child in their class, NOT the parents. It is then and only then that you realize just how crazy some folks in this world really are.
And of course, even after running into your child’s new best friend and his or her mother at the super market, where she was skipping through the aisles wearing a Wonder Woman cape (complete with the arm bands and high heels) nothing you can do or say, will ever be enough to get your child to choose a new friend. In fact based on simple parent-child behavioral facts, the more you try to discourage the friendship, the closer your child will get to the crazy family. So how are you supposed to handle impending social engagements, or invitations to your child to spend the night at the crazies’ house without damaging your child socially?
The first thing you need to ask yourself is whether or not your distaste for your child’s friend’s parents is for a valid reason. Do you not like the new mom because she had a boob job and looks great in a bikini, making you feel a little less comfortable allowing your husband to go and pick up your child after a play date? Do you not like the new dad because he happens to be the popular quarterback in high-school who gave you a wedgie once upon a time? Or do you really and truly get a creepy crawly feeling from these folks every time you see them? Have you heard rumors that they are swingers from the neighbors, or that they hold a weekly Ouji board sÃ©ance every Saturday night or have you seen these things for your own eyes? In other words, it is okay to not like someone, or not trust someone with your children if you have either intuition, or valid reasons not to. But stymieing the friendship because of something that may or may not be true, or because of ‘jealousy’ is j `ust not right.
It’s your job as a parent to protect your child, and allowing your child to go to another family’s home especially a family you don’t know, is definitely a risk. That being said, before you simply say no, or tell your child that their new friends parents are complete whackos try to get to know them. Invite the child over to YOUR house, where you can enable your child to have the friendship, under your watchful eye. And when the parents come over to drop off the child, invite them in, and try to get to know them a little. If they pull out a doobie, or down a 6-pack of beer then quite possibly your first impression is spot on and you should never allow your child over to their home.
Also, never underestimate the power of Google! There is nothing wrong with looking the person up online, or even trying to friend them on Facebook so that you can get a bird’s eye view of their life. (Remember of course that 90% of what you see on Facebook is total crap!) Another idea is to talk to other parents that you know, or parents and teachers from school to see if they have any opinions on the parents in question. Sometimes, sizing up what other parents think can either solidify your initial feelings, or enable you to feel more comfortable with the folks.
When it’s all said and done, you are in complete charge of where your child goes, and with whom they go. Even if you are not sure why you do not feel comfortable with Wonder Woman, trust your instincts! If your child is very young then you should not allow them to go anywhere that you do not feel they are safe. And quite frankly, you owe no one an explanation. You can simply foster the friendship by allowing the super-hero’s spawn to come to your house. Eventually, if the other parents have a clue, they will stop inviting your child over, or the friendship will fizzle out on its own and you will be on to the next friend. Hopefully with ‘normal’ parents.
And remember! While you are busy judging the craziness factor of your child’s new friend’s parents they too are probably trying to figure you out as well, and may be going through your trash cans at night to see if you are consuming exuberant amounts of alcohol and liquor or peering in your windows to see if the word on the street that ‘mom is a stripper’ ring true or not.