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Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Banish The Playdate


When I was a kid and I wanted to play with my friends, I would call them up on the rotary phone. If I was lucky enough to get the push button phone, if my older brothers weren't on it, I would call them in succession running down a list of my go-to guys.

"Brian, this is Chris, can you play?" He'd check with his mom or dad and come back on the phone or I'd hear the entire thing as if I was there "MOOOOOMMMM! CAN CHRIS COME OVER?" After confirmation, I'd jump on my bike and head to his house and I knew that I had to be home before dinner.

That was it. There was no pre-scheduling get togethers at each other's homes. Playdates didn't exist.

This playdate garbage is ruining our kids. I shudder every time someone asks me if our kids can have a playdate together. That word is almost as bad as Mr. Mom. Almost.

This idea that two kids playing together has to be an event is altering the spontaneity of our children. It has become too formal with set dates and times and has rendered my son incapable of calling his friends because he feels awkward asking, especially when a grown up answers.

Adding the word date to this phenomena of play has ruined the whole experience for me. It makes me feel like I should be preparing a cheese plate and some activity that as a "host" our guest kid will be taking home a fabulous parting gift.

Can't I just play on my phone while they play in their room instead of planning some elaborate craft where they end up making a stained glass window just for fun?

It's time that parents stop overdoing things when it comes to our kids. The emails and the special venues are starting to wear me down. My special venue is my backyard, where I may or may not be pulling weeds while your kid plays on our swing set with my kids. Hell, I may even turn on the sprinkler for them if they want to get crazy.

Also, the whole production between you and me is unnecessary. The back and forth emails about your plans and my plans are exhausting. Let me get out my calendar and let's discuss. Can she come over? No? Okay then, let's move on.

The word playdate also gives off this connotation that I should be opening doors for you as you drop off your kid. They are only playing and there is no need for us to hang out unless you are one of those moms that feel uncomfortable leaving your kid with me. You probably don't want to be THAT mom though because when I drop my kids off at your house I'm not loitering because I trust you.

I am OK with you dropping her off and dashing to the grocery store sans child, just as long as I also get to dump my kid off on you another time when a Marvel superhero matinee is about to drop.

Kids are slowly being desensitized to the spontaneity of play. Before cell phones and social media, we found out where our friends were by the multitude of bikes parked on the front lawn. I spent most of my time as a kid riding my bike to the park and playing pickup games of basketball and baseball. We played Star Wars for hours and acted out scenarios from our heads. We climbed trees!

When there was no one to play with, I didn't pester my mom to contact all her friends to set something up. Sometimes she would just point and other times she just told me to go outside and I threw a ball against the garage, for hours.

I made up championship basketball scenarios, threw pop flys to myself, and made up games with whatever I could find in the garage. One game involved a skateboard, a tennis ball, and a storm sewer grate. Skateball never took off probably due to the fact that the rules fluctuated on a day to day basis because we could never remember them each time we played.

My father, who grew up in NYC, played stickball with a pinky ball and a bat that he sawed the handle off my grandmother's new broom. From one ball, they invented a dozen games like "stoop ball" which clearly was created from just being outside and working with the environment and what they had. Play wasn't about what you could do, but what you could make of it.

Many of our kids are totally incapable of this activity and they are losing their ability to think outside the box because play is handed to them on a silver platter. My six year old daughter tells me often that she is bored if she is not being constantly entertained and all too often instead of forcing her to figure it out, I defer to the iPad.

Kids are at their best when their imaginations are in play. We are dumbing down their ability to be independent thinkers with scheduled activity and feeling like we are to blame when they have "nothing to do" Isn't it ridiculous that I feel like I am a cruise director in charge of keeping everyone occupied?

When will kids learn to use their imaginations again and not rely on an app to keep them entertained? It's our responsibility as parents to make it stop. Let's start by banishing the word playdate and focus on just making our kids play in imaginative ways. Let's lose the structure and the formality and remove the dates so they can just focus on playing.


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217 comments:

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    1. I Liked this! I don't do the "play date" LOL! I feel like its more for the parents than the kids. Don't get me wrong.. We all need adult interaction. I just thought it was called getting a sitter..LOL! School is where I saw my friends. Got to hang with other kids than my cousins. Which wasn't that the play date when I was a kid?! Going to the cousins?! Anyways.. I am starting to think that parents Like to label this kind of stuff for the kids so they look like the Disney Land Parent. Which I personally don't think they have to. Your kid already thinks your AWESOME! And I mean no offense. I love going to the park! I just like doing it with my son. So I suppose I am having a Play date!..LOL!!

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  2. I hear you. We would just knock on each other's door and ask if so and so could come out and play. We would do whatever we were to do - usually it was playing one sport or another.
    These days when my kids have a play date, I don't make special plans. I let them do their thing. I just like to have snacks - the real key.

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  3. I hear you! It is annoying! However, I do have to say that times have changed since we were kids. Our kids are no longer safe to play in their front yards or go riding off on their bikes unaccompanied. It's a scary, different world we live in now. Play dates are but a symptom of a larger problem.

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    1. No more stranger danger today than 30 years ago, we just hear about it more. That there are pedophiles hiding behind every bush is a complete falsehood. Look at the stats, calm yourself down and let your kids out to play...without YOU hovering over them. You are doing more harm than good.

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    2. Justin please read free range kids by Lenore skenezy. Yes our kids are safe.

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    3. Exactly. Crime rates have gone done across North America despite the population increasing. It's 'scary' because the media tells you the same 'scary' things 24 hours a day every medium available - radio, TV, internet, smartphones.

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    4. There is actually statistically LESS stranger danger than when we were kids.

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    5. Our kids are taught and are more informed about strangers, dangers and their surroundings than we ever were (and I am 47) the greatest gift we can give our kids is to allow them to use their intuition and play freely WITHOUT FEAR. Seriously, the world is not different just our fearful attitude.

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    6. There is more stranger danger on the tablet or iPad than the park. Get out and play ... get off the computer!!

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    7. Maybe less stranger danger now because todays parents actually know where their kids are, unlike when I grew up. I can tell you with great certainty, there were a large amount of unreported things that happened to kids back then because, of poor parent supervision. Having lost a childhood friend, and knowing a great deal that were victimized, the idea of throwing caution to the wind is not for me. My kids are wonderful, smart, happy and healthy...all with me knowing where they are at all times. It's not really all that difficult in my mind.

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    8. If you look at crime rate stats the rate of crime is down there is just more fear mongering now and parents constantly criticizing one another rather than supporting one another. In our world now and when I was a kid we had a combo of spontaneous fun with kids on the street and "visits". I will admit that the neighbourhood fun is not as frequent but I'm doing something about it and am out actively trying to meet our neighbours. We just moved here in the winter and we have managed to make one good friend on the block. More effort is just needed at the start but it is still possible.

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    9. ...not only did we not make "play dates" but we didn't wear bike helmets, seat belts, our parents smoked in the car with the windows rolled up, may father always encouraged his friends to have a "drink for the road"...let the past stay in the past. We are smarter than all that now, I choose to be the parent who know where my kids are...just sayen

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    10. I couldn't agree more. I'm in my mid 30's and it kills me my kids can't love like I did. There is no more danger to kids than there was 25 years ago. We just know about every amber alert because of Facebook, Twitter and the Internet. We were all warned about the man in the van with the blue door at one point. Buddy system, check in at home and kids are safe. We have to get over this "it's more dangerous" stuff. It's not. The difference is 2 parents working 10 hour days and the kids being in daycare. So they don't get the time to play.

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    11. I'm amazed at how many people are influenced by the media scare craze. If you took the time to read up on the facts surrounding the likelihood that playing in your front yard would result in a "dangerous scenario" beyond a potential band-aid incident, you'd be amazed that believe it or not, your kids are actually pretty much just as safe as they would have been 30 years ago. The big issue isn't can my kids go out and play in the yard, it's can I, as a parent, get off facebook/twitter/instagram/snapchat/the chive/whatever long enough to monitor my kids while they play. My mom never had us out of sight or hearing range, and neither did any of my friends moms/dads for that matter, and if she needed to do something that might take a bit of time she told us to go play in the backyard. The likelihood of a stranger doing anything to your kids is far far far less than someone they already know doing something, so before you blame our "dangerous times" or "stranger danger" as being the reason your kids don't have a full range of play options try to remember that they are, in all honesty, more like to be harmed in your house than out of it.

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    12. It's not so much stranger danger that I worry about in my neighbourhood. It's the maniac drivers going mach 50 that worries me. I don't like when the kids play in the front yard.

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    13. I agree with most of the posts. It is a complete myth that our children are less safe today then they were 30-40 years ago. We just hear about the bad things more then we did 30 + years ago. Free play and independence is one of the best things we can do for our kids.

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    14. No one is suggesting that you not know where your child is, just that we let kids play, no scheduling needed and no planning activities for them. Amen.

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    15. Aaaargh! It's this "Oh the world is so scary" attitude that has ruined childhood. Childhood has never been safer! In past generations the Boy Scout troop leader could molest you and no one would believe the child. The teacher could molest you and no one would believe the child. The priest could molest you and no one would believe the child. Now a child just has to make an accusation and the potential perpetrator's life is ruined. The incidence of RANDOM stranger abduction is so rare as to be statistically a non-event.

      I live in a neighbourhood with kids in every 4th house. I only know they are there because of play sets and Thomas on a big screen TV, I never see them outside. I've tried to interact with neighbours to see if my 3 year old daughter can play, but it's always busy, bust parents and their schedules. I was to say "Fuck you! My kid wants to come over and play with your DAUGHTER not you!"

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    16. You are spot on! When we moved to our neighborhood, the neighbors started out with the making playdates thing for my two boys. After lots of inability to connect I finally sat down with two of the moms and laid it out that I wouldn't be doing the playdate thing for the boys. They were told that my sons would knock on their doors to ask if one of their buddies could play. If the answer was no, he would leave. No harm no foul, but NO playdates.

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    17. That's great that everyone thinks there is less dangers today and to let your kids have more freedom but we all know who would feel the guilt if something were to happen to our unsupervised children. I may be over-protective but I also know that my children are safe. As for "organized" play, that doesn't happen. We do have to set up play "dates" because everyone is busy but I make the kids play on their own.

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    18. Statistically, which is what many fearful parents seem to rely on. More specifically, what is shoved down their throat by word of mouth and media, than actual statistics. But I digress. Statistically, when most of us were growing up back in the 60s and 70s, crime was much higher than it is now. Technology was the only reason why we didn't hear about them ALL THE TIME. Put it this way, if we had the same tech now back then, it would make how the world appears to be now, like a perfect day at the beach. We would be huddling in bunkers, armed to the teeth. lol

      Statistically, your child would sooner and easily be killed by a shark, or a car, than get abducted by a complete stranger. Which by the way is a very rare occurrence. Did you know that most abductions, assaults, and abuse to children, are done by someone they already know, and probably trust. ie. parents, relatives, teachers, coaches, priests, doctors, etc... You don't hear these very often, because they don't sell as much as a "stranger" abduction. There is one major thing we all have to understand, the media, first and foremost, is about making money. However they can. And usually, that is to sensationalize rare occurrences, and blow them out of proportion. And because in this day and age of internet, social media, and technology, many have been conditioned to just accept what is fed to them. No more common sense and logic to use.

      We have become a society of drones, with selective fearing. Selective fearing is fearing some things, but not other things that relate directly. eg. many fear about "strangers" abducting their children. Yet don't think twice about putting them in a car and driving around. When it's fact that more children get injured or die in car crashes than being abducted. That doesn't make sense. The worse part, the children learn their parents' fears. They never learn confidence and self esteem. They learn distrust of others. They grow up knowing this as a normal thing in life. In essence, parents are setting up their children to fail. "Stranger danger" is so misleading. People teach their children to be afraid and wary of strangers. Yet, almost everyone we know, everyone we've ever met, was at one point, a "stranger". Do we teach our children to never be friends with anyone, but instilling "stranger danger"? Or do we teach them, that not all strangers are bad. In fact, most strangers they will ever meet are just like you and me. And I'm guessing that your a good person as well. ;-) Would you want to be considered a dangerous stranger? hmmmm.

      Time for people to stop thinking the way society has conditioned them to think these days. And go back to as the author writes, the old school way of raising kids. This is the way children have grown up for thousands of years before this new age. And we've gone from thousands to 4.6 billion people. You can't argue with those results. Trust, if it worked for us, and generations past, it will work for our kids now. We just have to allow it. Fear, it makes people to do the darnedest things. If you can learn to fear, you can unlearn it as well.

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    19. The parents that SMOTHER their children with supervision and unnatural preplanned play dates are the same parents who's kids do nothing wrong and the same parents that write notes to the teacher askin to excuse their child from things the child doesnt like and that my friends why we are raising a bunch of self indulged self centered pansies that wont make it the world without mommy and daddy holding their hand and will be the same parents that say I dont know what went wrong we did everything we possibly could .... everything but let your child socialize and experience life and find their own way.....9 times outta ten the overprotective parent is someone who ends up with an under achieving child as they have never had to do anything for themselves

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    20. If people actually hung around outside, in their front yards, walked around their neighborhood, spent time IN PUBLIC, there would be less stranger danger. If my 7-year-old walks ahead of me, people slow down, like she's lost. I NEVER see kids, even teenagers, walking around. I hope it's just where I live (Topeka, KS). I see people in parks. How do they get there? Aliens would think this place is populated by 4-wheeled moving machines.

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    21. As a victim of a pedophile and survivor of a sexual assault, I sure wish my parents had been more vigilant. Even if my kids are "probably" safe, I'm not willing to take a chance on them going through what I did. So, I'll let them play AND I'll be vigilant, because the two are not mutually exclusive. Stop denigrating parents who are attentive.

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    22. You all have valid points but if something were to happen to my kids I would never forgive myself.

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    23. Just one quick reality scare - there are more pedophiles out there than you think. I arrest a few every month. The Internet has allowed them to connect with other pedophiles, which empowers them.

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    24. Regardless of whether there is more or less danger these days, there IS danger. That is the point. You are an idiot to send your young kids to run the streets. And you shouldnt come down on us parents who actually watch our kids.

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    25. I agree. I think the internet had empowered and emboldened predators. The get together and tell each other children are meant to be sexual. I grew up with more freedom in the sixties and seventies in a nice, middle class suburb, and though nothing actually happened to me or my three sisters, we had more than one encounter under the age of 13 with strangers, shop owners, teachers, and neighbors who were not behaving properly. While avoiding predators is a skill, I do not want to teach my children by putting them unsupervised in contact with predators. About 20 years ago, my sister's 3 year old son was snatched at a shopping mall that had a display of baby animals for Easter. My sister ran after the man who was running through the mall and grabbed her son from the man. The sad reality is that predators reduce our children's freedom.

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    26. Re. Anonymous who wrote, "The big issue isn't can my kids go out and play in the yard, it's can I, as a parent, get off facebook/twitter/instagram/snapchat/the chive/whatever long enough to monitor my kids while they play." YES. Thank you so, so much for assuring me that I'm not the only person who feels this way. I work in retail: literally, every day, I see parents drop off their children in the children's corner of my store--and then wander away. The children proceed to demolish our merchandise and fixtures while the parents sit on the opposite side of the (large) store...texting it chatting on their cell phones. This is lazy parenting, and it's detrimental to children. It teaches children that they're not responsible for treating others' property with respect. Worse of all, it invites danger: I'm not paid or trained to be a babysitter; I'm paid and trained to assist my customers. If Mom wants to text, or if Dad wants to hit on the single mothers, then do it elsewhere and without your children present--but, while you're with your children, be WITH them: engage them, listen to them, lead them.

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    27. you all have great points but i do agree with this dad too many people have their kids on schedules for everything and that just doesn't work with me. I mean if you schedule your kids whole lives they are just going to grow up and rebel but if you let them just get out and play or do what they want they seem to do better. Now with that being said when i let my kids out to play i am always out there with them because sadly these days you never know what is going to happen but i dont schedule them playdates i dont schedule their whole lives, i let them enjoy their childhood and let them do what makes them happy. I am very old school in many ways i just will not let them run around without any sort of parental supervision.

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  4. Media (smart phone and tv), we limit this to 30 minutes a day. What is sad is that many times when my kids come back form a play date I hear that all they did was watch tv. When we have kids over we remove their phones and they are no allowed to watch tv.

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    1. Completely agree with you. When I drop my kids off, I tell them, in front of the other parent, "Remember we didn't come here to watch TV!" and many times it has pre-empted a movie watching session. Kids should be OUTSIDE playing, not mindlessly not interacting over some idiotic screen.

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  5. I think this is exactly right. And I actually believe that in a LOT of places it really IS safe...we have just been so scared by the media into believing its not and because less and less parents allow their kids to roam, the packs are smaller and the kids less protected by their own numbers. It becomes a vicious cycle. Just like the vicious cycle where, as we allow our kids less freedom in order to keep them safe, they grow up with no judgment, and then make ridiculous decisions that compromise their safety and ability to live independently as young adults.

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    1. Exactly. They become forever dependent on their parents. I know some parents who do everything for their kids. Kids are in college, and still calling parents to do laundry, cook, money. And the parents still cater to them. Their reasoning..."I don't want my children to fail". Ironically, because they do everything for them, they have already set up their children TO FAIL. It's a fact that the older we get, the harder it is to break habits. And if our children are learning to be fearful, and dependent on their parents for everything, it will be harder to let that go in their adult lives. Children start learning from us by the age of 2, that is fact as well. Parents of this generation should be teaching their children how to be adults, not treat them like helpless invalids that can't do anything without the parents constant attention and supervision. This mentality is really mostly to quell the fears and insecurities of the parents, than to actually help the children.

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  6. http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/child-abductions-by-strangers-rare-in-canada-1.1335061

    http://mcsc.ca/about-us/statistics/ The first Canadian statistics on missing children were released in 1987. There were 57,233 children reported missing that year. In 2013, there were 41,035 reports of missing children in Canada as reported by the RCMP

    A cursory search of kidnapping stats in Canada shows that no, the world is actually a less scary place now than what it used to be. Sensationalism in the media is what scares parents and prevents them from letting their kids play like we did in our own childhoods.

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    1. Or maybe kidnappings are fewer BECAUSE parents are being more cautious...

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    2. And worth pointing out that the vast, vast majority of these missing kids were not abducted by strangers.

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    3. Maybe Jenna, but I seriously doubt it.

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    4. Jenna: Fact, most abductions, and abuse to children are done by people they already know and trust. Parents, relatives, coaches, teachers, priests, etc... By a stranger? Those are rare. Always have been. The media sensationalizes stranger abductions, because it more captivating news. Which equates to more money for them. The more people believe the media, the more get conditioned to believe anything and everything they hear or read online. This is why so many parents are more fearful now, than any other generation.

      I would partly agree with your assessment. But I don't think it's because parents are being more cautious. Rather, the people abducting are more scared because they are all closer to home. There is no such thing as 'stranger danger'. Just bad people. Not all strangers are bad. And not all people close to the children are good. ;-)

      Don't judge people by what others tell you. Use your own head. Common sense and logic is within all of us. It's free, and always there to use. Time to dust the cobwebs and start using them. The only people who truly benefit/profit from people who have learned to fear, are those that would control us. Governments, next to greed, fear is the best way to control people. Corporations, they weasel money from fearful parents..."hey, we have a product that will keep your kids 'safe'". There are many suckers to be had. Media, the more your tune in to their sensationalized 'news', the more money they make. And you don't get a single dime. Only a stressed out, fearful way of living.

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    5. exactly they were not abducted by strangers so its a little ridiculous to say kids cant roam because of stranger danger we are raising a world full of bubble children that won't be able to function in normal society because they are afraid of what bad might happen

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  7. It's a different world, yes, but not for the worse. Statistically it's actually a better, safer world.

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    1. There was more it takes a village attitude back when I was a kid, which is also why we all felt safe. We traveled in packs and were always looked after by everyone's parents.

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    2. Nice philosophy in a perfect world, but statistically most incidents that do occur are between the child and somebody they know. According to numbers provided by the National Association of Adult Survivors of Child Sexual Abuse, the vast majority of children who are sexually abused are abused by someone they know -- most often a family member, an adult the family trusts or, in some instances, another child.

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  8. I don't have kids yet - but SO true...

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  9. I use the word playdate to get together with someone but I never have it planned out. The kid comes over and they play freely while the mom and I just chit chat over a coffee.

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    1. Yes! I have a weekly playdate scheduled for my daughter with a friend and her son--we moms sit around and drink tea/lemonade/the rare alcoholic beverage--while we watch the kids chase each other around. She and I have talked about trying quilling while the kids play, which is a hilarious scene to envision. (Can you get out glue without intriguing a 3yo?) Playdates are more of a way for parents to sniff each other out and make sure we're okay with our kids being around them. I always think of playdates as something for babies and toddlers and preschoolers. Once they're 6 or so, a little more independent, I think I'll be okay with them walking down the street to Dillon's to play (as long as I have met the parents and feel the place is safe--no unlocked guns lying around, etc.). Of course, people in this town drive like lunatics, even down our residential street, and that makes me super nervous. (Also interesting: My husband is turning out to be way more of a hoverer than I thought he'd be--he might not be cool with our 6yo daughter crossing the street to play with Chrissie.)

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    2. Yep, this is me too. We get together, the kids chase each other around and make up silly games and me and the other mom(s) enjoy a beverage and keep an ear out for shrieks of pain. Sometimes it's outside if the weather co-operates, and sometimes it's inside.

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  10. I don`t have a problem with playdates. I like predictability and knowing that my entire weekend will not be spent fighting with my daughter about watching something, or playing on my phone, or playing with her, etc. Not all of us live in neighborhoods where there are millions of families and kids either, and some of us actually live on busy streets where it`s not safe to cross the road. And some of us (gasp!) actually like the parents to stay and keep us company. So even though yes, we should aim to give less structure to our kids to encourage spontaneity, often for us, not planning means our children are by themselves all weekend, because all their friends are already busy doing something else with their family. Playdates also don`t have to be synonymous with activity planning. The kid comes over at a scheduled time for a pre-determined length of time because their family has other plans at that time, they go upstairs to play. I do my own thing. what is so wrong with that?

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    1. There is no right or wrong in all of this. Each parent has to find their own happy place with this. If you feel the way that you do, go for it and don't worry about how it will be perceived by others. I will share, however, that when I was young, there were many times when there were no friends to play with (I got out a lot playing baseball, soccer, hockey, etc) I was ok to be able to play by myself. In retrospect, I think it forced me to use my imagination. I got very good at LEGO, which has helped me in my career. :) Good luck!

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    2. It's OK to go a WHOLE weekend without playing with your friends in fact i lived in the country and most times I said goodbye to my friends Friday night at 3 and didn't see them again till 8 am Monday morning that means 2 whole days to entertain myself guess what i survived and I am better for it I look for ways to do things myself first instead of relying or depending on someone to do it for me and I have a great network of healthy friendships as well

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    3. Nothing wrong with what you are saying slussier....but do you really want your weekends always planned? I think weekends are more of family time and unwind time...young children don't need to be with their friends on the weekends, they see them at school....weekends IMO should be more family time.

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    4. I sincerely wish Iived in a neighborhood with lots of kids, because I would love to send my very responsible 11 yr old off to find her friends...unfortunately we don't and it makes it difficult to have unplanned spontaneous get togethers I get up doing...

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  11. My children were raised in the country. Before summer started I would discontinue the cable services plus it was before cell phones and ipads. They rode their bikes, built forts, played road hockey, tented in the backyard, hung out on the beach, went to the corner store for popsicles. They were always active. The parents of the neighbourhood kept a collective eye on them and fed them them where they randomly landed. They had a great time and talk about their childhood adventures fondly. I find it sad that I rarely see children out and about these days. I wonder how many even own a bicycle.

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    1. I couldnt have said it better !!!!!!!

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  12. Our family is having a very different summer this year. Usually we have the kids booked into one sport camp after another all summer. But this year, as hubby and I are both teachers in BC, we don't have the extra cash. But we are home all summer. So the first five or six days were very PAINFUL. The kids were constantly asking us to watch TV, or play on the IPad etc. We caved a bit as we wanted some time to relax ourselves, but for the most part we kept telling the kids that they had to go play with their toys. Last week was better. They didn't ask as much for "screen time". We organized a few playdates - but when we say playdate, we mean that a friend comes over and they have to figure out what to do with their friend together - no screens and no help from mommy or daddy. By the end of last week it was getting better, and then we went camping with another family for 4 days. The first day the kids kept asking for the iPad, but we stuck to our guns. My kids are 7 and 8 years old. We told them - get on your bike and ride around the campsite. And we stuck to this. Well by the third day of camping they were happily entertaining themselves building forts in the forest, and riding bikes. We took them down to the river and they swam and played. It was GREAT!!!! My point is that going camping gives an environment that allows the kids a bit more freedom to play like we did as kids. Kids are actually a lot more able to find their own way around if we give them more freedom. We have decided now that our 8 year old is old enough to ride his bike to his friends homes and we're going to see if he can call them himself this week and set up his own "playdate".

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    1. That's exactly it Sandra. It's too easy to defer to the electronic devices and give in. Good for you for sticking to your guns and changing the way you do things with your family.

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  13. Does anybody think maybe there are less kidnappings because people are keeping a closer watch on their kids? The world is probably the same amount of scary and we are just doing it differently. This desperate nostalgia for the past is starting to get really played out.

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    1. Actually I think you're partly right. We are doing things differently. Kids are in daycare and after school care and before school care for starters. There aren't kids around to roam the neighbourhoods playing freely. I'm not sure that's good either. Its not nostalgia so much as it is an empty neighbourhood where there is no community anymore. No collective parenting so to speak. It's just a collection of homes people live in oblivious to those around them. Times change, I know, but somehow this just seems sad.

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    2. Maybe sad, but far less sad then losing a child. We learned from some extremely costly mistakes. We didn't all make it out alive or unscaved. This much I know for certain is true. People saying crime rates are down, so we need to send our kids out to look afer themselves, makes as much sence as saying bike helmets did there job, we don't need them any longer.

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    3. It's not nostalgia, it's common sense. Your "nostalgia" has been the way for every single generation before this one. All the way back to the dawn of man. And the human race has survived to be 4.6 billion strong. You can't argue with those numbers.

      Of course, if you keep you children locked up, and constantly keep an eye on them they are less likely to get into trouble. But can you really, truly keep an eye on them literally every second of the day? Because, as you know "anything can happen, at any given time". And it's just fact, that we can't keep our eyes on our children every second of the day. It's impossible. But, the old school way of raising children...we TEACH them to keep any eye on themselves. This generation of parents, think to little of their kids. They think they don't know anything. When in fact, children, starting at the age of 2, learn at an exponential rate. What they learn at a young age, is what they will be as they grow up. If you teach them fear of the world, and dependence on you. That is all they will every know to be "normal". You teach them to think before leaping, plan, organize, and be independent thinkers. That is what they will be. Children are far from helpless. People just have to get over their own fears to realize that.

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    4. Absolutely. The "back when we were kids" nostalgia is just like any nostalgia, they remember the good parts and forget the bad. Back when we were kids, we were allowed to roam free because our parents were more self-absorbed. Back when we were kids, everyone's dad worked so much they barely had relationships with their kids. Back when we were kids, the author of this blog wouldn't be a stay-at-home dad. Back when we were kids, a lot more kids died in car accidents. Wishing the world were more like it was when you grew up doesn't help keep kids safe and it doesn't prepare them for navigating the world they actually live in.

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  14. This is a wonderful blog.

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  15. Gone are the days of letting the kids ride around on the streets till dark....gone are the days of not setting up a "play date". With the way society has changed to a high speed , fast pace time, every thing needs to be "fit in" rush kinda attitude. And where does the term "play date" come from? It seems to be a new wave slang that every one has adopted to the diva stay at homes years ago. Maybe to make them feel empowered? Who knows? So instead of saying "play date" think of another word to use and maybe that trend will come around!

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    1. So true. I don't call get togethers with my friends, ManDates. A simple "Can so and so come over and play?" will suffice. Instead, it is a big production

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    2. Diva stay at homes? Really? The mother who is at home with three kids under 5 and hasn't showered for two days is now being called a diva?

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    3. "Diva stay at homes"...really? I thought we lived in an enlightened society. Someone clearly didn't get the memo that the mommy wars were a myth.

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    4. Diva stay at homes? Maybe things have changed since I was raising my kids but I sure didn't feel like a diva in the middle of an explosive poop diaper change with the smell of spit up on my shirt nearly overpowering every other unpleasant odor. Nor when I was expected to be the room mother for 3 different classrooms because I didn't "work". And you know those cute art projects kids do in daycare? Yeah, those, and the resulting mess which, diva or not, I had to clean up, were just as plentiful at my kitchen table. I felt plenty of power when I was available to my children when they came home excited to talk about the good day they'd had at school or needed comfort when it hadn't gone so well. I could go on but I'm sure you get the idea. Hate the term "play date" if you want but don't bash stay-at-home moms in the process.

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  16. You have read my mind! Thanks for putting this out there.

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  17. I find it interesting that even the posters who encourage the free range "knock on Billy's front door" kind of play say that they are only comfortable with it if they have met the parents. Of all the neighbourhood kids my siblings and I played with as children, I can't think of one set of parents that our own knew better than just to nod at in passing. My parents and my friends parents were not friends. We were rarely forced to socialize with the children of those adults with whom my parents enjoyed spending time, or knew well enough to trade kids back and forth. We had to make our own friends, and decide which kids we liked, and which we didn't. We also had to learn how to avoid those we didn't want to play with without doing so in a hurtful manner, or making them feel ostracized. It happened to all of us, and we didn't always do it well, but we learned what it felt like to be on the receiving end, so we were more understanding when the tables were turned. It's very unfortunate that it is now the rare child that learns these skills that are crucial to being a functioning adult.

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    1. My kids are the ones you'll see out running in the neighbourhood without a parent in sight. I do like to introduce myself to the other parents, though, because I hope it will reduce the chance that they'll call CPS on me. I basically say, "Hi, I'm so-and-so's Mom. I'm the negligent parent that lets my kids run around outside unsupervised. hahahaha" I find that it helps cut down on their judgement of me once they've talked to me. Parents today are so uptight about kids playing outside without adult supervision. I'm not. That doesn't mean I love my kids less than anyone else loves theirs or that I'm a lazy parent. My kids are resourceful, independent, great problem-solvers and have some kickass social skills. We had a new family move into the neighbourhood and they called CPS on me because my older boys were playing hockey in the street for hours on end. I bet they weren't expecting to see me hug the social worker since little did they know that I, too, am a child protection worker with CPS that investigates allegations of abuse and neglect. My colleague and I had a good chuckle. LOL So yeah, my kids play outside, they go to the park, they build ramps and jump them on their bikes, they play road hockey in the middle of the road, they have spats with their friends that they solve on their own. Meh. They are safe, they are active, they are happy and they are loved. Judge me for that and it's your issue, not mine.

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  18. I guess it's somewhat okay for younger kids who can't just jump on their bike and ride to a friend's house, or even one that is old enough to be dropped off at a friend's house but not old enough to be left there alone, but for older kids, are playdates actually a thing? Well I never...

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  19. I couldn't agree more. And what's with the fancy birthday's? The fanciest birthdays I ever went to when I was little was Chucky Cheese or Pizza Hut. And I was invited by my friends, not their parents. So glad I missed growing up in this generation.

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  20. When my kids ask if they can have a playdate I say no ...when they ask if they can go over to there friends house I say sure and they call or run up the street and see if they are home....it's not my job as a mom to make sure my kids plays with there friends on a daily basis....I feed and cloth my kids ...my kids make there own social schedules themselves not my responsibility

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  21. We are strong believers in our children having an unstructured childhood. We tell them to go play, because Ive got things to do and like you said, not an entertainment director. Im busy doing my own thing! they have been raised to go find friends and i chase them out of the house routinely. My youngest is now 5 and shes been running the neighborhood since she was barely three and there are many kids that also run around, climb trees, scare the heck out of themselves in the woods and get into mischief. I have gotten scuff from people who can't believe that my kids run the neighborhood "unsupervised" but for the most part, other parents love it as well and send their kids out the door too. Ive even heard about the neighborhood gang trying to break other children out of their fenced in area lol my girls are both ultra independant, street smart and can ALWAYS find something to do. Meanwhile Im in the house relaxing and watching a movie lol kidding, Im doing housework etc but i can always hear the kids outside and they never go super far. My youngest demanded the training wheels off her bike at 3 1/2 and never looked back - she had to keep up with her sister after all! There are tons of kids that run together and look out for each other constantly. People should encourage their child to explore and find kids and get them out of the house! Once one is out and about you will see them filter out lol

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  22. It seems to me that get togethers need to be scheduled more due to all the activities kids are involved in. My kids aren't in much of anything at this time, but so many kids are that it can be hard to find any to play with. Kids are too overscheduled!

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  23. I so agree!!
    However, some of us are forced to plan playdates. We live on a farm with very few children nearby; and I am one of very very few around here who doesn't think children need to be in baseball, karate, dance, and whatever else all at once. So if I don't plan with my child's friend's parents for them to hang out during that one free half an hour a month, they wouldn't see their friends.
    And isn't that just as sad? How does a child learn who they are when they don't have any time to be themselves?!

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    1. We have a similar situation. Not a farm, but we live in a historic neighborhood close to downtown in a large city. We chose not to live in suburbia, so we don't have many kids around. My kids' school is not in our neighborhood. Therefore, my kids' friends don't live near here. Because parents have to be involved in driving kids over here, and usually staying here with them because it's too far to drive back and forth for drop off and pick up, we have to plan.

      I would be OK if kids called up here with no notice and came over if we were free. But I do remember some instances when I was a kid where a neighborhood kid would knock on the door, come in and say "My mom said I could play." My mother would say, "Sorry, but we're leaving in 10 minutes." and the girl would repeat, "but my mom said I could PLAY!" Or kids would come in unannounced, and my parents would need them to leave after a couple hours and we couldn't find their parents anywhere, and we had to change plans or just send them out on the street. For this reason I am ok with playdates. But they don't have to be planned in advance--I just prefer parent permission first.

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    2. As a private piano teacher, I've discovered to my dismay that all of my students are so overscheduled with other activities that they don't even practice between lessons, and the parents don't care. It takes time and commitment to master a musical instrument; piano lessons are just another activity to their parents.

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  24. I agree with the blogger. Playdate is total poppycock! Fortunately, it's a N. American phenomenon. In the UK, there is no such thing. The kids still knock on each other's doors. And the parents always know who's playing with who.

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    1. Playdate is an excuse for the parents to socialize I think ;)

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  25. Great Article, Chris! I completely agree!
    Thanks for sharing your thoughts; I'll be coming back to read more of them!

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  26. I was a stay at home Mom 30 years ago and believe ME, it wasn't cool then! We didn't have a home computer and certainly NO cell phones during that time. Our children played with the neighbourhood children just as we had in the '60's as YOU'VE described! Dare I say, the old fashioned way! They will NEVER learn to use their imagination if the parents don't let them and that does NOT include TV, computers, ipads, cell phones etc. I can see needing to "arrange" your children's play time if it is due to both families work schedules and it is the only way, but let them decide what they want to do together in the backyard NOT at a place that requires them to be entertained...

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  27. I didn't get the buzz you did, but I wrote a similar post just 3 weeks ago called, "Where Have All the Children Gone".
    http://www.michaelbyronsmith.com/1/post/2014/06/where-have-all-the-children-gone.html
    I couldn't agree with you more! Great post!

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  28. I have a 6yr old and I don't drive (not by choice) so we need to schedule play-time with friends because most of them don't live close enough to just go see. Even having them over after school isn't an option because my son takes the bus home. The thing I hate is the "entertaining" that has to go on between the parents. If I take my son to someones house I have to stay because it takes too long to get home and then come back. I feel awkward and I'm sure they do too. Plus as you mentioned, there is more to do during a day then watch our kids play. When they're occupied we get work done.

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  29. I would have loved to have a dad who put this much thought into anything about my childhood. I'd also love to have friends where I like the entire family and if I wanted to stick around or leave the kids, it would all be okay and I could return the favor. If it feels like you are on a date and there's pressure to put on a show, there's a good chance their kids are jerks too. Real friends don't need that much structure or scheduling and why would you leave your kids to fend for themselves with people you're eventually going to phase out anyway?

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  30. I think it's a 2 fold - Crime rates are lower and we're more protective of our kids. But where to draw the line? With the currently environment of helicopter parenting (which I don't subscribe to) isn't allowing our kids to learn how to look after themselves. Too much screen time limits their output of creativity, yet a moderate amount can set their imagination wild (some of the things my 3 year old comes out with are fantastic!). Moderation and working with the level of your child are key. I don't see anything wrong with an 8 year old walking down the street to their friend's house and knocking on the door (and yes, I do live in a community in a large city). My 3 year old will often ask if his best friend can come and play. Being as young as he is, I haven't had him call over yet, but it'll be happening soon. The disappointmnet for both kids, if it's not feasible at that time, is part of life and they need to learn to deal with it.

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  31. Well, I think the word playdate is used since so many parents these days work and have so much on their plates. They schedule the playdates to make it happen. It would however be nice not to have to do that.

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  32. ....My kids are still quite young 1 and 3 so of course we have "playdates" and I hear what a lot of you are saying, but when I was a kid in grade 4 it was actually another kid who was the danger and it only takes one time for a child to be messed up.. Ive listened to talk shows on how horrible it is to umbrella your kids...but I think you can allow your kids freedom while still being close enough to see danger...I guess Ill see when my kids get to that age..

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  33. Part of "fixing" our kids (and I agree, the author points out a real problem) is also "fixing" ourselves. Instead of setting the example of needing constant iPhone-ish stimulation, we need to re-learn how to entertain ourselves too. I.e., adult iterations of bouncing a tennis ball off of the garage door.

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  34. So true! I have a young baby so of course at this point I need to schedule her activities--but when she's in grade school I totally agree that playdates are a little ridiculous. Parents are busy enough as it is and don't need to attend their kids playdates and make small talk with the other parent over a charcuterie platter.

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  35. So I guess you don't want to schedule a playdate with me?
    Your friend,
    Bad Playdate

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  36. I have always thought that the word "playdate" was ridiculous. I am so happy I grew up in the days before the internet or cell phones and within walking distance of my school, as all of my friends did. We called each other up to arrange to go to each other's houses or the park on foot or by bike or skateboard. My parents never arranged a get-together for me. And we were never bored. As a result, I am an adult who is never bored. I completely agree with this article.

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  37. Dear Dad, Lovely words. totally agree. If we lived in a neighborhood where there were kids our kids age. But as a stay-at-home-mom with 4 kids...who LIVES in the COUNTY. We have to PLAN. PLANNING is not bad. And as any Mom with young kids knows - a playdate is not for the kids it's for the mom's who sit in lawn chairs nursing infants and talking. It's for the mom's to get together and not go crazy cause finally they can talk to another adult. A playdate is the word we use that means, "i'm coming over to hang out without my husband but with my kids" It also means, "My kid and your kids get along, let's PLAN to let them see more of each other." When there are no neighborhood friends cause we live in the boondocks...planning it the next best thing. It doesn't mean crafts or hoover/helicopter parenting...it just means a plan to let the kids play.

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  38. Love this post! Kids need to get out and play...spontaneously!

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  39. Anybody remember when you played around your neighborhood and saw Block Parent signs in your neighbors windows?

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  40. Love this post! Kids need to get out and play...spontaneously! We used to camp out in backyards, ride bikes around town and have great adventures in the wooded provincial park near our home. Such great memories!!

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  41. Many children don't have attention deficit disorder ...they have Nature deficit disorder!
    http://richardlouv.com/books/last-child/

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  42. We are big into scheduling events with other kids for fun activities we can do after I get off from work. During the weekend- I am not home lounging around the house - we are at the zoo, the museum, or library. If a friend wants to play with us I need to schedule that so we can be home. Times are different when parents are now most of the time both working long hours and trying to spend some quality times with their children in the free times.

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  43. To all of the parents saying you just send your kids off to play outside and at your neighbors, a word of advice, your neighbors probably don't like your kids being at their house all the time. We have neighbors that allow their 6 year old daughter to play outside (by herself) on a constant basis, which basically means, she lays in wait for us to pull up so she can run over to our house. Trust me, it gets old.

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  44. As someone who was a victim of a friend's father I have a VERY hard time allowing my kids to be alone with an adult I don't know. They haven't yet reached sleepover age and any 'play dates' (I use the term loosely because I let them all do their own things instead of planning every minute out) they have involve the other kid's parent hanging out too. I think things will stay this way for quit some time too. I'm sorry if I sound a little too overprotective but I wish my dad had been a little more over protective of me when I was eleven.

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  45. AMAZING! But yes, I believe it's a learned craft figuring out how to entertain yourself with nothing but a stick, a ball, a tree or some crayons. I'm not too sure if it's something that can be 'taught' by a parent, or whether its just a case of giving kids the room to explore things on their own accord.
    Like they say "only a small mind becomes bored" -- I just would hate to hear the words "I'm bored" come out of my kids mouths as I would feel that it would be a reflection on my ability as a parent to inspire inquisitiveness and feed imagination.

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  46. I dont really understand all that you are saying....I never had any of that go on when I was a kid and I did have play dates....I was always calling up my friends and I was setting the dates...and if my mom was making a playdate for me it wasnt anything special it was just making a date to drop the other kid off and whatever we did wasnt planned out like a party. Plus I dont see a lot of "playdates" going on anymore because of social media....kids are constantly on phones and ipads and facebook and what not.....I see them making their own plans themselves even more now then when I was a kid...which isnt even that long ago. So do and do not agree with what you have to say about play dates....if down the road my kid asks me to have a play date who am I to say no to them.

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  47. Awesome! I love what you said!

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  48. Encourage play like my hubby! :)

    http://m.today.com/parents/parenting-its-1986-couple-bans-modern-tech-inspire-kids-8C11111429

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  49. Kids are as safe as they always were. The safety is in the numbers. If people sent their kids out more there would be more kids out there and then the chances of kidnappings and incidents will go down. Yes if little Billy is in the park alone then his chances of finding trouble are higher. Pop the bubble and set these kids free to be kids. Put away the gadgets and the tv's and send them to the park!

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  50. Thanks for the story, I made my twelve year old call two friends on his own and they are out riding bikes right now. Going up to our local grocery store within our very safe area and getting slushies!

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  51. This only works when you live in a neighborhood where there are other kids around.

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  52. I'm not exactly sure where you're coming from on this one, but that's probably because my youngest is *about* to start kindergarten in the fall and it never occurred to me that people plan fancy "playdates" for their school-aged children. I thought a "playdate" was just "I drop my kid off at your house for a few hours to play." Most of my daughter's friends (since she hasn't started school yet) live too far away for her to walk there, and she is not interested in learning how to ride a bike yet (curses!)

    I'm actually more afraid of some nosy, overzealous "good Samaritan" getting nervous and stopping my child on the side of the road on her way to a friend's house, then calling the police and getting me arrested for "negligence" or "abandonment" or "endangerment" of my child by letting her (gasp!) walk across the street to the next neighborhood by herself. I think I'm going to have to drive my kids to their friends' houses until they're at least 8 - not for their own safety, but for mine. I'd rather not go to jail. Maybe she'll learn to ride her bike soon, so by the time strangers start freaking out for her safety she'll be around the corner.

    PS. My "neighborhood" consists of two streets and three cul-de-sacs. She has to cross a "busy" (ha, not busy) 4-way stop to get to any of the neighboring neighborhoods, and will spend enough time walking by a "busy" street that SOMEONE is bound to pass by and see her and get their feathers all ruffled. The world is ridiculous these days.

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  53. Since my daughter is only 2 I am ok with playdates. When she is older I agree with these sentiments.

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  54. I understand this completely. My 7 yr old kid sticks with his cousin and and a couple of friends that he's had since he was old enough to play but we don't do the play date thing, I don't get it and I'm like you. I don't want to be a play date director, telling them what we're doing all the time. I'll help with snacks and craft projects if it's something that they need my help with but otherwise they're on their own. However I also don't understand not letting kids work all their little tiffs on their own. They start to whine at me about it, I tell them that if they're not bleeding they can figure it out together. They figure the little stuff out quick if an adult isn't there butting in. How are our children supposed to grow socially if we, as their parents, solve everything for them.

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  55. So very true. Nice to know there are other parents out there who feel the same way I do. I get frowned upon here for letting my kids "just play" (real play not digital devices)... but regardless of the mummy peer pressure I'm not going to stop letting my kids create their own fun.

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  56. Amen! I hate that my children are often left with no one to play with because I didn't schedule something weeks in advance.

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  57. I still do play dates. I guess I'm just a big kid who still likes to call up MY friends and see if they can play. Then I load up the kids and we meet somewhere and have a fun time together. Them with their friends and me with mine. Most days my kids are outside playing with their friends who live nearby. Sometimes it's fun to see friends who don't live a short walk or bike ride away. And sometimes this mom needs to play with her friends too! ;)

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  58. You have a point here—at least for older kids. For parents with littler ones (who can't use the phone, of course), playdates are a lifeline. Being the primary caregiver can be isolating and exhausting, and having a playdate to look forward to can make my entire week better. Sure, a good ol' playdate is good for my daughter, but it's a lifeline for me.

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  59. Speaking as someone who was nearly abducted by a stranger when I was 6 (it will forever be in my mind) I am very much aware of how quick a child can dissappear and I really don't think that people understand that. Just because some people came and went as they pleased some 20 years ago and nothing happened doesn't mean the world was a nice place... and it still isn't. We live in a time were we are more aware of the dangers... therefor making it more difficult for those that pray in children. Playdates for me are fine until my child gets to the age that she can recognize and properly express if something was ever to happen. My "fear" doesn't come from the media.. it comes from experiences and friends experiences that the dangers are still VERY Much there.

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  60. This is why we live in a small town. My kids go down the street to the neighbors', or the neighbor kids come here. We don't even get as far advanced as a phone call. They just come up to the door and ask if the kids are home and can play. I don't let my kids wander the streets by themselves, but in a group of 3 or more, I think they are pretty safe. I have never in my life set up a play date and I know if I tell my kids to go outside, they will find something to entertain themselves.

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  61. My husband and I often talk about how kids don't play outside anymore. Our daughter played outside growing up with all of her friends and we always knew where they were ( either at our house or one of the other houses or in the park). They were allowed to walk to the ice cream shop or library as a group and all the parents watched out for them. We grew up like this and loved it so we raised our daughter the same way. Even though she had a great childhood, our daughter did the playdate thing with our grand kids. We always thought it was crazy, but always stayed out of it until the kids came to spend the night or week-end with us, then all bets were off. Kids are kids and they love to use their minds. They have all this energy, so let them express it. Believe it or not, they would rather have you not make their dates. Just saying!

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  62. My kid doesn't have time to "call them up" He's got lacrosse on Mondays Wednesdays and Fridays at 4:00. Mondays and Wednesdays he has Piano. Tuesdays and Thursdays FBLA after school, and Math and Language tutoring after that. Saturdays we have swimming lessons and Sundays we have church and Lacrosse Matches every other weekend.

    And my precious little sausage certainly isn't going anywhere on a bicycle, the neighbors will think I'm a bad parent.

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  63. I hear ya! Playdates are corny. We used to make ourselves a bowl of cereal and go outside and stay there until we were called in for lunch or dinner. Every kid in the neighborhood did this so there wasn't even a need to call anyone. If we wanted to "call" someone, we stood on their front yard and yelled their name until they came out.

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  64. I'm guessing most of the commenters and the author are from "well to-do" neighborhoods. Nice cul-de-sac with little traffic. If you were to step foot in a less than desirable neighborhood would you still let you child wander around to a friends houses. I live on a busy cross street in a city. I DO NOT let my 6 year old wander outside without me. When her friends want to hang out they call or text my cell phone and we meet half way - we don't have a home phone so they can dial each other up. We walk to the park where she can do her thing with the other "city kids". I just wonder if you spent 1 week in my shoes would you be so "free range" about everything? Do you have bars on your windows? Maybe we need to schedule play dates because like me parents are working as much as they can. I mean this might be a problem for some people but for those of us who are struggling to get food on the table not living with picket fences it really isn't. I also won't let her go to some friends houses because of gang activity and shootings. How would a free range parent handle that?

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    1. Thank you! I do think most of the posters are well to-do. Take into consideration if you live in an apartment building also. Not all kids grow up in the same circumstances. Some people need to get out of their bubbles.

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    2. I think his whole point of writing was not to question your safety concerns but to address the content of a play date. He is addressing the constant supervision, constant entertainment, doing everything for the kids. He is suggesting, instead, that we encourage our kids to step up, make a phone call to a friend, and plan some playtime on their own. Using their imaginations is becoming a lost art and kids these days don't know what to do without their "cheese plate" and personalized juice box. I don't think walking your 6 year old to meet the other adult so she can play at a friend's house is in question.

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  65. we use to live in the city and playdates were required. now that we are in the suburbs our kids have the same rules you describe when you were a kid. their school, friends, a park, a lake are all in a one mile radius. on any given summer day they do exactly what you describe. it is perfect.

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  66. I actually didn't know people did 'play dates' with children that old. I thought it was more what stay at home mom's did with their 1-3 yr olds who weren't in school yet. My 7 yr old tells me he's going to see so and so down the street and off he goes, if that friend isn't home, he'll try another neighbour friend then another and come home if he can't find any one to play with. He usually will come home and tell me if he isn't going to be with who he initially said he was going to see. I tell him to be home before lunch, dinner, bedtime etc. and that's it. His friends do all live on the street though and when they are outside I can see him at the houses of all of them. I also do know their parents in passing and we all chat at the bus stop together all school year. I can't imagine having to entertain the parents of my 7yr olds friends in my home while they played and I would never refer to him hanging out with his friends as a play date at his age.

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  67. Out of all the posters who reference "the statstics" I think only one actually provided any. Sorry, but I'm not just going to take your word for it, I'd rather have my kids be safe.

    To the author: You give this big, long rant against kids having too much "screen time," and yet after your amazingly free and creative upbringing, your only two hobbies you mention are "playing on your phone," and watching superhero movies? So, what, you're pissed that your kids' screen time is trumping yours? Seriously, do you hear yourself?

    Sorry, but my kids' well-being is number one, two and three on my list. And I still somehow manage that without them watching anything other than the occasional PBS special, with almost no computer time except for creative projects, and plenty of outdoor time. Sorry that being a parent means having to plan and be involved in your kids' lives. I mean, why can't my 6 year old just take care of herself so I can get back to griping on blogs on my mobile?

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  68. You are so right. Coming from Ireland with my boys playing outside with their friends the whole time barely getting them in for something to eat (usually sitting on the bottom step so they weren't missing anything) and arriving in Australia to no children on the road was a total culture shock. Even now play date sound so bizarre to me as all children should be left to play, explore and conquer the world.

    I believe my 6 year old(3 when we moved over) has missed out on so much socializing and street sense from the lack of interaction on the road with other children.

    But it is getting a little better where we are now as people see my boys playing outside all the time they are gradually letting there kids play out too. We just need to change the way people think. Thanks for a great post

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  69. I just hate how playdates imply that I HAVE to be there too. Can't my kid just go over and play with your kid so I can have a moment of peace? Tradesies?

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  70. I think part of the problem lies in the amount of time kids are spending on electronic devices. Their attention span and ability to think creatively has decreased and we end up hovering over them when other kids are around to avoid boredom and make things exciting. You're right, back when today's parents were kids, (1) we didnt get bored and (2) we could think of activities to do with our friends as well as when we were alone. Also summer vacations didn't imply boredom cuz we could think of things to do and it wasnt necessary to enroll in activities and camps.

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  71. My daughter and her BFF live a 20 minute drive away from one another. Playdates are essential if they are ever to have time to hang out. We have to organize rides, decide who's house, and who's driving. Parent's schedules aren't always so easy that we can make things work at the drop of a hat. It's much easier for us parents (and for certain kids who are not neurotypical) to have something on the calendar. And no, that doesn't mean it's a big to do with all sorts of activities planned. It just means the kids are getting together but need the help of a parent to either get to or from their date.

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  72. There are situations where just allowing free play isn't safe. I let my child go to a classmate's home where unbeknownst to me there was prolific pot smoking by the parents, and a domineering angry father (unless he was high) who eventually had the mother of his five children committed to the psych ward. She has since disappeared and the children no longer are allowed to discuss her and the new 20 year old bimbo he has taken up with is now to be called Mom. The children of course all have major issues, bed wetting at age 10, very few friends etc. etc. I allowed my child to play at their home because of this bloggers reasoning. When I went to pick up my child, no one could hear me ringing the doorbell or knocking because the playstation volume was turned so high. Where were the parents I wondered? These were just "regular" looking people in the neighborhood in which we lived. My child's classmate was a manic and crazy acting kid when he came to our home the one time we had him. My point is, just that one time was enough to instill the distrust of where my child is, and until he had established good solid friendships I needed to know who the parents were and what the home looked like, were there any dogs or grow ops? I hate the word playdate too, but the premise itself has merit.

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  73. I think you're overthinking it. Sure kids don't do near the amount of independent creative play they did when we were kids, but it's not because of scheduled playdates. It's because of technology and the fact that MANY more homes have 2 working parents and our lifestyles have changed. Not every kid has a neighborhood full of kids to play with or can run out the door down the street to play. I also think playdates are often times for moms/dads to visit with each other while the kids run and play freely. Also, am I the only one who doesn't care for kids just showing up at my house without knowing ahead of time?

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    1. No, you're not the only one. Especially if some of the kids in the neighborhood emulate their older brothers and sisters in their behavior and speech. Sometimes, kids come over unannounced and don't want to go home. I've even seen some parents who allow their kids to be out after dark totally unconcerned because they are under the false impression (where we live) that it's "safe" and not like the city. (We are VERY rural!) But there aren't just human predators where we live. Black bears, coyotes, snakes and even the occasional skunk are not exactly the best things to be running into in a neighborhood without streetlights. There is a reason why our particular housing development has a curfew for kids being home before dark.

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  74. I grew up in the 60's and 70's and we did not have scheduled playdates or the fancy birthday parties at paint your own ceramics stores. Parent\s have their kids scheduled in so many activities that kids have lost of what it is to be a kid.

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  75. One question: what phone are they supposed to use? Do people still have house phones?

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  76. So many comments - hot topic, and a well written piece. In our area, the children are scheduled to the minute with lessons, camps, tutors, team practices, private coachings...as a teacher in after-school arts education, I see middle schoolers who lack coordination learned by walking to school, riding bikes, falling down, climbing trees, playing made-up games. They don't have the negotiation skills and tolerance for dissention learned arguing the rules to made-up backyard games. The saddest of all is underdeveloped confidence in their own imaginations. Their ability to engage in self-generated make-believe play and stories has been stunted by video, play action figures with their own storyline videos, iPad apps, computer games, and adults who swoop in to "fix" frustrations ("Here, let me help you"...instead of "Figure it out for yourself, you can do it). The process is the product. Thanks for your article!

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  77. Sorry dude, your not in Kansas anymore. Lament the 80's all you want, it's not going to bring them back.

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  78. I've seen too many kids turned into electronic zombies because they have Playstations, Wiis, iPads, computers, cell phones and all the other nifty gadgets they got from Mom and Dad. My son is 10 and he got an iPad for Christmas last year from grandma. Took him three months to be interested in it. He watches cartoons on it when we travel long distances. WE do not allow him on the computer unless it is for researching a classroom assignment. We do not have a PlayStation or Wii because we're not going to waste the money on something that will be upgraded in a year to a new and faster one. He reads a book a half an hour before bedtime, just so he can prove to us he actually can do it. (Most kids struggle in his class.) Imagination?? He has it in SPADES! He "built" his own "time machine" because he was inspired from watching BACK TO THE FUTURE. (Doc Brown is one of his idols.) He also dreams of being an archaeologist like Indiana Jones (Another of his idols.) He also wants to learn how to do scary makeup so he can work on a movie set. He is creative and is constantly building SOMETHING out of nothing. Cardboard, plastic, even coffee stirrers are like building blocks to him. He made a "flux capacitor" for a school show-and-tell once. His teacher called me and told me she had to keep from laughing. The way he explained what it was for and how it worked was incredible to her. For a ten year old, yeah, it's pretty cool. Now, if by the end of the summer he has managed to design and build his own tree house or fort in our backyard, I will be amazed. If his little friends who have their butts stuck on a couch manage to drag themselves away long enough to come hang out in our yard and play, I will make sure the Kool-Aid is cold and the freeze pops are too.

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  79. I loved growing up like this in the 70's. Wish my children could have this same independence. I don't hover, but my kids are young, don't let them wander the streets or parks without an adult....yes I would love it for them to have the same freedom I did growing up, but I am worried. I don't think there is more violence today, it probably is the same as when I grew up. However, I know a lot of sexual abuse that was going on when I grew up, we just never talked about it (with other adults). A lot of the girls experienced some sort of sexual abuse growing up (I am not talking just about rape)....my neighbour (young girl) was fondled very often by one of the dad's when alone at his house. Another friend, she was being touched by the older teenage brother when no parents around. I have my own personal stories. This happens a lot, don't think it doesn't.....and it is usually someone that you know and trust. I wish we could let our kids just run free as we did growing up, but bad things did happen back then also....it just wasn't reported as much now in the media...and kids back then rarely ever talked about being sexual abused, we didn't have the awareness now as we did back then. Keep your kids safe....let them have fun, but do keep an eye on them.

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  80. I don't have children yet, but if I ever do I will definitely keep this post in mind. What a fabulous take on the annoying problem of playdates. Playdates do desensitize kids and make them believe someone will always be there to entertain them. You have to go out and find your own entertainment for the best development in my opinion! It's part of what made me so outgoing instead of an introvert waiting for a friend! Thank you for telling it like you feel instead of worrying what others would think of your post. Too many people don't hit that publish button on a blog post for fear of how people will perceive them.

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  81. I think it's pretty much all to do with the infernal electronics - they are what's ruining childhood. Our closest friends' biggest flaw, in my opinion, is that they use the ipad/smart phone to entertain their son the second he is "bored" and don't even try to find another way... last weekend we went out with them to a restaurant for lunch. My son wanted to play games that were on the placemat with him... no... already watching a movie on the iphone.... my son suggested they "explore" while waiting to eat... nope... glued to the screen.... he wouldn't even talk.... so what happened? my son started asking if he could have my phone, to which I said "no - there's lots of other stuff to do here"... but with his buddy acting like a 6-yr-old zombie, he sat beside him and watched the movie over his shoulder. His parents - one of my best friends - totally ignorant to the whole thing....
    stupid phones :(

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    1. I agree! Keep the kids away from all the electronics. It is sucking the life out of them. I see children as young as 2 with some sort of hand held device in their hands..give them a baby rattle! I will not be this parent that gives into my child with all the electronics. This is what is ruining childhood, you are right....children should be playing, real play.

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    2. Not stupid phones, stupid parents!

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  82. Don't blame it on the "play dates." If you do a lot of preparing and you don't wanna do it, you are at fault. If your kids don't have the imagination to play by themselves or watch too much TV, that's your fault too. And I can go on and on. My kid has activities every day, from soccer to swimming lessons. There is nothing wrong with scheduling time to play with friends when our schedules permit. It's all about balance!

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  83. My only thought is that it's the parents that worry me - how many kids are being abused by a PARENT? Am I supposed to send my five year old to a home by herself when the Dad/Uncle/Friend may be there and trust that the mom is going to protect my child? There are children being abused right now and YES the moms often know but are too afraid to say or do anything. Sometimes the mom is actually an active participant in selecting and grooming trust in the child and family for the purpose of abuse. My child can go to a friend's house by herself when she is way older and wise enough to let me know if anything seems off. I work in law enforcement; you would be shocked at how many moms and dads ignore or "pretend" the abuse isn't happening. I guarantee you already know a child who is being abused by a family member - letting your child go to a home by themselves at a young age is just irresponsible, no matter how well you think you know someone. So YES a play date wherein both parents are present works for me. If your kid wants to play with my kid, expect to get to know me too. We come as a set and since they'll probably be in school together for the next 12 years or so, why shouldn't the parents get to know each other - I believe that is the definition of community.

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    1. The reason I trust the parents I am leaving my children with, is because I am involved in their school. I know these parents and therefore there is no lack of trust there. What is the purpose of me sticking around? I think it gives the parent that is there the sense that you don't trust them. I had my 6 year old daughter go to a woman's house and her daughter cried the entire time that she was there and hid behind her mom. She called me to say that it wasn't working out because her daughter was ignoring my daughter. Me being there wouldn't have made that situation any better. In fact, sometimes because I am a stay a home dad, it makes it more awkward. At some point, you are going to have to trust the other parent that everything is going to be OK right? Aren't you exhibiting community when you learn to trust others?

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  84. I think you are way over thinking the whole play date thing and getting stuck on the "title of it" versus what is actually happening.

    A true play date in your scenario, where the parents stay, is for little kids and little kids only. You certainly aren't going to say to your three year old, "Hey honey, go ride your tricycle around the neighborhood and find someone to play with." Well, maybe you would, I don't know. I certainly wouldn't, and most people I know wouldn't be comfortable with that, neither would the police I assume. And, yes, play dates at the preschool age are as much for the parents as for the children. So that the parents can get to know people at the same stage of life as them, as their kids, so they can get comfortable with the people they're going to be leaving their child with soon enough. If it's awkward and you don't "click" you move on to people you do enjoy. If you have young children, and you don't like doing it, then don't. Your prerogative. If you have older kids and this is still going on, well, that's just odd.

    Fast forward a few years and I don't know of any parents who stay for a play date, unless they are good friends and want to use it as a way to grab some adult conversation and catch up. EVERYONE drops off. And scheduling times to play, especially during the school year, makes sense in todays world -- not because of fear -- but because it's hard to find a time when kids can actually play between school, and homework, and baseball practice, and dance class, and swim lessons, and religious education, and tae kwon do, and gymnastics, etc. etc. Our kids are far too over scheduled these days and, while that's very related to "the play date" conversation and I could rant about it till I'm blue in the face, it's still a difference conversation.

    Back to "the play date," my kids (6 & 8) have scheduled play dates almost every week day during the summer and a couple times a week during the school year. We even, gasp, have weekly rotating groups so that mom/dad hosts once a month and then gets a few weeks "off." It's awesome. The kids have made lifetime buddies and mom gets a few hours each week to run errands, clean house or just sit down and read blogs such as this. And, no where in this "scheduled play time" is there a schedule. The kids roam the house and yard playing whatever games their heads can contrive. Just because it's at a scheduled time doesn't mean they don't have the ability to be spontaneous within that time frame. You should hear some of the off-the-wall games they come up with. Right now it's time to clean up and they've built a lego catapult and some sort of "dumpster contraption" that they're using to pick up their toys. "I never knew cleaning could be this much fun" was the statement I just heard one say to another as they raced back downstairs.

    Now, I don't know if our neighborhood is special, we have a gagillion kids in it so it very well could be. But, in addition to scheduled play dates, we have kids knocking on or door almost every day and impromptu "play dates" all the time. And, as people head home from whatever they did all day and the heat lowers to a dull roar, the kids slowly gather one by one outside until there is a gang of kids running around, grabbing their bikes and scooters, to play a game of basketball, or street hockey, or SPUD, or Capture the Flag, or climb trees, or make mud pies, or color the neighborhood with chalk etc., until the sky is dark and the mosquitos too hard to ignore and mom and dad call them inside for bath and bed. Seems a lot like how I remember us playing when I was a child. Play dates and all. Just because they have a title doesn't diminish what the children get out of them.

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  85. I agree with this article, but sometimes when you live in a large city, one has to arrange "play dates" as your child's friend may live in another part of the city. My son is now a teen, so thankfully we are done with "play dates".....now it's "dates" that we deal with. :) But I want to say that for me, I was more concerned about the wacko parents, more so then "stranger danger." Some of these wacko parents are called "helicopter parents" or they are just plain crazy! My 7 yr-old son at the time, went on a "play date" to his friend's house where he had been many times before. We had known this family for 3 years. Our families were supposedly "friends" and we had done several family outings together. Us moms used the "play dates" as an excuse to visit, while the kids played. One day I asked this mom if I could have my son come over as I had a doctor's appt.as my husband was out-of-town. She said OK. Everything "seemed" normal when I went to pick up my son at the designated time. But the next day, this boy would not talk to my son at school and the next several days, the mom avoided me at school and didn't return my calls asking what was wrong. All of sudden, I got called to the school one day, and my son and his friend had gotten into an argument (nothing physical, just words exchanged etc.) on the playground started of course by my son. My son wanted to know why his friend wouldn't talk to him Both sets of parents were called in. The principal met with the both boys and worked out the problem and they went back to being "best friends" again. What had happened was that my son had "scared" the other boy during the play date by rolling his eyes to the "back of his head." Yup!! That was it..... problem solved right??? Not..... quite.......the next thing I know I'm getting a call from this boy's dad, threatening me that if my son ever talked to their son again or if we ever talked to their son again, we would pay dearly. They had informed the school that my son was not to go near their son. I was totally dumbfounded!!! It was crazy as we were neighbors with these people, we had done things together as a family. I was totally blown away. The worst part was having to tell my 7 yr-old that after both boys had made up and gone back to being friends that he could no longer talk to this boy or play with him.....not at school or at the nearby park to our houses. I tear up just thinking back to that conversation my husband and I had with our son....and his sobs as he tried to understand why he could no longer be friends with his "best friend." Now, you may think there HAS to be more to this story, but honestly their isn't. That was it!! So for me, issues with play dates were more about what kind of parents I was dealing with than what the kids were doing.

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    1. That is a terrible story and heartbreaking for you son. Crazy what kids get upset over and even more, the bad reaction from the parents. I get to know my kid's parents as well as I can but we aren't hanging out. You would think that after being close, they would be able to laugh it off as kids being kids. So sorry to hear that.

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  86. Well, for one thing, it's a different world from when we were kids, so obviously it's not going to resemble your childhood of calling your friend on a landline, then hopping on your bike. Play is going to change as technology does.

    Second, every family is different. My child is lucky to have many friends who like to play with him, but because he's in a wheelchair and has some development problems that require frequent doctor appointments, I have no choice but to schedule "play dates" (where - gasp - they actually just play and hang out and it's not this elaborate thing you make it out to be!). And yeah, I have to be there in case something were to happen (seizure, something with the wheelchair, etc). If a parent doesn't understand that, that's their problem, not mine. It never killed someone to get to know the parents of the kids their kid wants to hang out with (and frankly, shouldn't you know who those people are?).

    I think you're overthinking this whole scenario. Then again, most parents out there seem to overthink every single aspect of parenting.

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    1. I appreciate your comment and I agree that technology has played a role. I can see why scheduling is a must for you. I am glad you have had a good experience with the play date but many parents that I know can cite so many "bad play dates" that I felt it was a good topic to write about.

      I don't like it when people tell me I am overthinking it though, as personal experience with the moms in my area, I have had to endure playdates where activities were planned out according to a schedule. At the end, my daughter had crafts to take home which is fun but then the mom had to run down the list of all the things they had done that day to show me what a good time they had. I would have rather heard it from my daughter in the car because we like to talk about everything that she did.

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  87. We lived in Ann Arbor, MI for 7 years. They have university family housing there, and it is amazing. Kids are playing outside a lot: climbing trees, building forts in the woods near the houses. All by themselves. There is no play dates, they just don't need them.
    I usually saw my daughter at breakfast, lunch and dinner time, that's it.
    She was truly free.

    Now we live in MA, the town is safe but kids are always with their parents around. And it is bad because as a parents we always trying to teach our kids to do the Right Thing. "You should be nice", "you should be kind", you should do this and that. It is absolutely understandable thing to do but I think the pressure is huge. Without adult supervision kids are trying to act differently (sometimes being not so perfect as their parents want them to be), and by that they are finding their own place in this world, building their personality.

    Sorry for my English, I am not a native speaker.

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    1. Absolutely thermm. Funny out our environment can play such a large role in how the children grow up. When we were looking at houses, we looked at the neighborhoods with our children in mind. While they were young when we moved here, it showed lots of potential for that kind of growth. As for your English, I didn't notice anything so well said!

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  88. On the other end of this are people like me who don't over-schedule their kids and TRY to have spontaneous play with other kids, but THOSE kids have so many scheduled activities that my kids lose out on play.

    I am honestly so bummed our next-door neighbors are away all summer, because they help keep real, spontaneous play alive around here. We leave the garage door open and a flock of kids come a-knockin', back and forth between the yards, basements, bedrooms, and snack cabinets they go. Everyone else my kids' ages (7 & 9) seem to have dance cards so full that it's impossible to catch them at a lazy moment.

    So, yeah. I'm with you. Bring back the "go figure it out yourselves, kid" play. All of our kids need it!

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    1. Thanks for the comment Kim. It's hard in the summer to coordinate play with everyone not being on the same page and taking different vacations. I am thankful that we found a neighborhood where this spontaneous play can happen and wish it could be like that for everyone.

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  89. My kids actually have both situations. We moved 4 months ago from one side of our city (of 1.4 M) to the other side. Different schools and a 30 to 40 min drive across the city so playing has to be scheduled but in our neighbourhood, my kids will readily go over to the house they want to play with to see if they can.

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  90. I agree and would love this for my kids. Unfortunately, we live in the middle if no where and the nearest friend is 10 miles away. So I have to schedule. Having then call up a friend to play, would be a dream.

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    1. I get what you are saying and certainly, your neighborhood can determine how these things have to happen. I get that people who live in apartments or out in the country have a more limited chance of just spontaneously playing with someone. That's why parks are so great. Many of my children's friends have resulted from a chance meeting at a park that opened up conversation with the parent. Thanks for commenting and sharing!

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  91. Ok. When we were kids the world was a safer place for kids to play away from home. I would reather have a supervised playdate with trusted adult supervision for kids today. They could go out without playdates, that could be the last time you ever see you child alive. There are sick people in this world these days. To name a few things if danger for kids out on thier own are...kidnapping with unthinkable things done to them ending with death, radom drive by shootings, other kids/gang bullying beating a child to near death. The list goes on. Stop being a lazy Dad. Your kids need you. If you dont like playdates, then get a job and have your wife stay home with your kids. There is your solution. You dont care if your kids are safe, but the rest of us do care if our kids and others are safe.

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    1. I disagree that that the world was a safer place for kids way back when. I just think with everyone having a cell phone and with the internet and its capabilities, we know more about our neighborhood than we possibly ever could back when I was growing up and my father. My dad used to run around NYC and now, kids who live there still do it; they ride trains from different boroughs and neighborhoods by themselves all the time to school.

      Like I mentioned before, I am not leaving my kids with someone I don't know. I talk to them at the kids' school, I am involved in the classroom as a volunteer. My 6 and 3 year old still play with friends, I just don't make a big deal out of it like many moms do.

      I think it is unfair to call me a lazy dad because I am interested in providing creative play for my kids that is unstructured. I am a stay at home dad if you read my about me page. If you knew that I had been doing this for the past 6 years, that I run a dad's group in my city, and that I am involved in the National At Home Dad Network, you wouldn't resort to name calling and assumptions. I have a job, and it's called being a parent...the best job I have ever had.

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  92. When the kids are 2 years old, I'm thinking the "playdate" thing still has plenty of merit. You're trying to get your kid used to the fact that there are other children around, that all toys don't belong to them, and that popping the other kid in the head isn't how you procure something you want. They're times where you can (if you like) shoot the breeze with your grown-up friends while your munchkins try to make a go at it. But when they get older, can do things like ride bikes unaccompanied and be trusted to cross busy streets on their own, etc - there's no reason at all for us parents to get involved.

    I grew up in a town of 500 people in Maine. My only way to get "playtime" in with friends was via coercing one of their parents to drive them over from miles away, or to ride my bike literally 3 miles down the road to my closest friend. The ball was definitely in my court when it came to arranging playtime, and I plan to do the same for my kids - when they are indeed old enough to to the hard things (crossing streets safely, etc) on their own.

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    1. This.

      I think you (DadNCharge) are taking the concept of a play date way too seriously and perhaps extending it to kids that are too old for mom and dad to be arranging "dates" with kids they have little interest in and with parents that you'd rather not socialize with yourself. And maybe making more of a production of it than it needs to be. I saw another post by you where you actually have had positive experiences with the idea of a playdate...so I am a little confused.

      That aside, I'm pretty sure that my 3 year old isn't going to ring her friends and ride the tricycle she can barely peddle 5-20 miles to see her friends. Do I put her in front of an iPad on the days that we don't have plans? No. We don't even own a tablet and she's certainly not getting my phone as a substitute. She has toys. She has crafts. She has the great outdoors. She's learning to use her imagination when there aren't other kids around, which is blossoming now that she's recently turned three. It's amazing to witness.

      But as long as she's young and a very social person, I think we'll keep scheduling playdates. There's no big production, other than, "Hey want to do this today/tomorrow/next week? Oh you can't? Okay another time then. Talk to you soon." Even now it's mostly to connect with other parents (if I'm dropping my kid off, then I've clearly asked you to babysit and not disguised it as a playdate...) with the perk that my daughter enjoys gatherings and the kids too. Maybe this idea of a "playdate" is different between social circles and regions?

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  93. I could not possibly agree more! Mother of 2.

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  94. I'd never let my kid roam my neighborhood. In the past 12 months, there have been 2 kidnapping attempts at nearby schools, a lockdown at another school because police were trying to catch somebody running around with guns, and about 1/4 the time I visit nearby parks, there will be kids smoking weed or worse. None of this is media scare, its stuff I observe or is information shared from schools. And i don't live in an especially bad neighborhood, in general its a nice middleclass neighborhood.

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  95. Banish the TV, the smartphones, the video games, the Hollywood films, the modern music....all modern electronic conditioning.

    Otherwise you expose your child to mind control in the form of overt sex and sexual orientation manipulation, occultism/Satanism (not good whether you are religious or atheist), New World Order conditioning, RFID conditioning, transhumanism conditioning, etc.

    The best things you can give your children are freedom, animals and the countryside.

    http://anonymous-ibiza.blogspot.com



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  96. The only reason we make "playtime encounters" is because there are absolutely NO kids in our neighborhood. The "playtime encounters" include bring your bike and swim suit...no fancy crafts or snacks(unless you consider the fruit bowl fancy.) Living next door to a church is great because our kids will go hit a tennis ball off the wall, play at their basketball court or ride their bikes in the huge parking lot. Wish we had neighbors like I did growing up, but we get as creative as we can with what we have.

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  97. So true! To be fair, I think a lot of "playdates" stem from stay at home (usually) moms of really young kiddos who plan to get together because they want the social interaction and adult conversation or we meet at Chick-Fil-A so our kids can entertain each other while we eat because WE wanted to eat a hot lunch while it was still hot, made by someone else. I know that is my case now but as my oldest turned 4 I realize I am ready for a break from him and ready to give a friend a break by inviting her kid over. I DO NOT plan a craft, I serve homemade snacks that were already made and I make them play outside or with the 8 million toys in the house. I do not...I repeat...I DO NOT ENTERTAIN.

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  98. I agree and disagree. I'm a sahm of 3 daughters. I'm also a organizer within my local communities "mom group". YES, moms group! We get our kids together multiple times a week for play dates that are sometimes organized venus but mostly a friends home where the kids can play any way their imagination takes them while being carefully supervised by their moms. Not all play dates are a bad, extremely organized or uncreative ventures for our children. We live in a different time. We have to be careful and take extra precautions our parents did not seem to need. I do hope you and your kids find a great local group to hang with. Being a sah parent can be much easier with support from others going through the same amazing life experience as you are at this blessed time. Enjoy :-)

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  99. just a tip - do "screen free" days - it works. I even (gasp) did a screen free week this summer - it lasted 9 days though because they forgot about screens for a minute there. it was awesome. I'm tired of the devices ruling my kids' lives. good luck, enjoyed your post!

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  100. I love this article. Period.
    Grammar: Also, the whole production between you and I is unnecessary should be you and "me." :)

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  101. I also am a SAHM that lives 500 miles from any friends and family due to my husbands work...times are different. We no longer have a "village" of support for raising our children. Often times playdates are for the moms too - to not feel isolated, to share advice, talk, connect. If you don't want to connect that's fine, but perhaps next time think of what you are teaching your child in that moment - let someone in, talk, be open to a friendship, or be perceptive if that person maybe needs friendship...it's not always about you. I doubt those moms are hovering cause they don't trust you or because they are helicopter parents (to be honest they wouldn't be dropping their kid off at your house if they were, they would be dropping their kid at an organized activity that could teach their child something), more likely they are just trying to be friendly, make a new connection. I get what you are saying about spontaneity of play, but I think it's a separate issue to "playdates"

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  102. I am a homeschooling mom of 7 and I agree with you, this society that they are growing up in is ruining their childhood. As a responsible parent I know where they are and who they are with and then we discuss what they did, now most of them are adults and good adults with values. We are a close family and we still spontaneously do things together, no planning, love it! Creative minds create prosperity and jobs for our future adults.

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  103. I feel your pain. My son is now 8, and has two school friends living around the corner. Every weekend he goes over to their house to knock on the door to see if they can play, and he is rejected 90% of the time. I end up having to schedule time with their Moms to make it happen. He is always crushed when he comes home, but he hasn't given up yet, God love 'im...

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  104. We bought our house a year before we had our son, and part of the reason we bought it is that each time we came to see it, there were kids playing outside. Riding scooters down the street, playing tag in yards, etc. That was six years ago, so the kids are different, but we still get *ding dong* requests for my son to come out and play. A lot. He goes on mostly successful campaigns to find playmates in the afternoons. Is this unusual? If it's that unusual, it makes me sad. We have a pile of dirt in the back yard that is a kid magnet. We have kids popping their heads over fences and climbing trees together.
    I still do playdates for him, even though I kind of hate that word, because some of his friends that he cherishes are too far away for knocking/no planning. I don't feel like it is taking the spontaneity out of his life so much as teaching him that it takes effort to keep friends that you love, and that the effort is worth it for good friends.

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  105. I agree "no playdates" - I felt so guilty when my kids were young. The pressure of providing them endless fun throughout the day wore me out.

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  106. Great blog! Just seeing this on GMA. My son wrote a book called 112 Ways for Kids to Have Fun Without Money, all ways he has come up with to create your own fun. He grew up inventing his play, check out his book at www.samgrossbooks.com.

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  107. I agree, in part. There are no kids my kids age in our neighborhood and I have no house phone and until recently neither kid had a call phone. So scheduled play times and sleep overs are a must, and smarter too. But when the kids are at my house, other then meals, they are on their own. Play in your room, go to the park, but it isn't my job to entertain or spend money taking them somewhere. Unfortunately my kids friend's parents don't feel the same, they have all kinds of activities ready. So my kids prefer to go there. But it's not a competition.

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  108. Sorry Mr. Mom, but play dates and imagination are not mutually exclusive terms. As a matter of fact my child has much more of a chance of beong creative when I am with them then simply dumping them off on some other parent who may just throw them in front of the T.V. And my 4 year old is not picking up any phone (roaptary or otherwise) to call their pal for a little stick ball or kick thr can.

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  109. He wants no play dates then arranges for all his daddy friends and their kids to go to the zoo per his blog. Ummmmm thats called a playdate and way more time consuming and expensive for the grown ups than just having a kid's friend over to play in the backyard or gasp a video game with their best friend. No research or anything just his opinion on what he imagines most playdates are and labeling them bad. Check your ego daddy and come back down to earth with the moms.

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    1. going to the zoo is considered a playdate, you are right. But if you read it you would see that this dad would love for his kids to just call up a friend to see if they can come over rather than the parents setting up a day and time for them to play together. Parents should be all about this anyways, it's less stress on us. I hate setting up times for my daughter to play with someone (she isn't quite 2 yet, so I have to do the calling.).

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  110. Um, I think you are totally misrepresenting what a play date is. It's usually in reference to kids preschool and younger. You have a six-year old so I suspect you will be seeing the end of play dates very soon. If you really remember your childhood clearly, you were not calling your friends on the phone or riding your bike to their house at 6. I'd say about 2nd grade is when my neighborhood exploration took off...and continued until junior high... Seriously, parenting young kids is draining, not b/c of playdates but b/c so many of our population wants nothing to do with preschooler-ish aged children in public. AND, people are just waiting to call the police or CPS on parents who do give their children freedom Just look at the mom in SC who let her daughter play at a playground unsupervised. Please stop coming up with another reason to judge/hate on parents b/c your blog entry on playdates just becomes another way to criticize parents rather than support them!

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    1. I do get what you are saying that "playdates" are for preschool and younger. That really should be where it stops. But it doesn't. I have heard soooooo many parents of older kids talk about playdates. And for the preeschool and younger ages, it still doesn't mean we always have to have playdates, why can't the parent call up another parent and see if their child would like to come over (that day, not a week away. And the parent doesn't have to stay)? I would love to do that (my daughter isn't quite 2 yet) but unfortunately the parent who dropped their child off would feel obligated to pay the other parent, like a babysitter, unless the word "playdate" was stuck int here somewhere.

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  111. Jeez.

    All this fuss over play dates? Wow. Relax folks, it's just kids getting together and having fun.

    As an only child, my 7-year-old daughter doesn't have a built in playmate at home so we make an extra effort to make sure she socializes with other kids. In addition to her close friends at school, she meets new kids every summer at camp and catches up with old ones. She also mingles with kids from other schools at karate and swimming. On top of that, she has play dates. And you know what? She’s better off for it. This is a happy kid who gets along with everyone she meets. E-V-E-R-Y-O-N-E. She has friends from all different backgrounds. All different ages.

    Do we accept every play date or party invite my daughter gets? Nope. So, we usually only get together with her good friends and sometimes someone new she wants to get to know better. Sure, it helps that her friends have really cool parents - sounds like many of you haven't been so lucky.

    After the first play date we usually do drop-offs or sleepovers. And I do mean “after the first play date”. Like it or not, for that first play date you need to hang out with the parents especially if you don't know them well. You need to make sure mom or dad isn't a nut job. I'm not into screamers or anyone with a loaded gun in the kitchen drawer.

    I’ve never regretted accepting a play date or a sleepover. If the get together is at someone else’s – dropping off your kids – gives you the freedom to do what you want a few hours or maybe an entire night. And when it’s at your house you get a sneak peek into your child’s private world...the way kids act with friends is totally different than with grownups. It's one of the few times your child and friend can hang out without a grown up hovering over them. And that freedom leads to highly creative moments...not stifling ones. Just yesterday my daughter had a friend over - a friend from out of state - just minutes after the friend arrived the pair went upstairs and played for hours until dinner. Then the girls went back up and played until bedtime. They both woke earlier and played some more ... games, singing songs, watching movies and just having a blast - what's wrong with that?

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  112. I concur. I'm a stay at home father and blogger, but not a dad-blogger. I don't really do play dates. The name alone sends shivers down my spine. No exotic locales or invites. My son plays well with his self and is rather creative. Himself and another of his friends are good at talking us parents in to dropping them off. Just backyards no fancy planing. If my wife wants to plan play dates fine. As a stay at home dad I feel odd about excessive contact with other kids mom's. I just drop the munchkin off and/or allow kids to come over. I've felt slightly negligent not being in on the far but I turned out okay. My son seems okay. If I have a daughter maybe that will change but for now I'm old school.

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  113. My take on the play date:

    http://serenemindpsych.blogspot.com/2014/07/keep-play-dates.html

    I respect that everyone is entitled to his/her own opinion.

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  114. THANK YOU!! I have always cringed at that stupid word "playdate". I even told my husband before we ever had kids that I never want that word used in our house. I just couldn't explain exactly why, but you have explained it perfectly! thank you thank you thank you!!!!! :) And what confuses me more is that the parents out there right now are the last generation of imagination and we are taking that away from our children. And it will only be our fault for future generations of no imagination, not our kids'.

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  115. Dude you can call it whatever you're comfortable with, it's the same thing, If you have young children, you gotta be there when they're visiting. Playdate, get together, sewing circle, wrestling match, disconnect your masculinity from the name, you're still a man and it looks like you're a good dad as well.

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  116. I keep seeing this crap on my feed which is the only reason I wasted the two minutes it took me to read this garbage. I say banish opinionated mommy/daddy bloggers who think it's their place to tell everyone how they should be raising their children. YOU are the ones feeding the mommy wars. Who do you people think you are anyway; just because you can submit a stupid blog means you're a parenting expert, right? TO EACH HIS OWN. Let people do what they want to do and mind your business. In this day not everyone is a stay at home mom/dad...some people need schedules. Some people don't live in neighborhoods where there are a lot of children. Some people have small children who can't walk up to Billy's door to ask him if he wants to play (who, BTW, the term "playdate" typically refers to). And I'm sure there are a dozen other reasons why "playdates" do or don't work for some people. It's just a different world than it was for those of us who were lucky enough to grow up in the 70s/80s.

    So...if anyone wants to schedule a "playdate" with me three weeks in advance, fine, I'll keep the day open for you. Or if you want to call me in the morning and just drop by, that's fine too! Stay, go, bring your own lunch, or raid my fridge. Come in your jammies, heck bring your kids in their jammies. Stay for an hour, stay for the day. I won't be judging you on my non-existent mommy blog. I will just enjoy watching my kids having fun with your kids.

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  117. I would love my son to be able to go out and play with neighborhood kids, I loved it as a kid myself, however, there are ZERO kids where we live! He is 4 and every other child around is 12 and up and all of them are on the computer in their homes. I think the problem is living in the suburbs. While we live in a beautiful and safe neighborhood, we have no sidewalks, no kids and nothing within walking distance. Everywhere we would like to or need to go requires a car ride. Strangely, people don't seem to come out of their homes. My friends are also in the suburb and in the same situation.

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  118. Ok I hear you and I get what you're saying but I think the idea behind a 'playdate' is for kids under the age of 5 (preK age). This works for parents to chat and kids to play...i think it works beautifully especially when you have multiple families involved. My 5 yr old just started playing at a friends' houses this Spring (without me and younger sis in tow) and I have to say the first time letting go was a big deal. Keep in mind there is no shame in the playdate just make it for the little ones. Let the big kids make the call and set something up with their friends.

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  119. Chris you are demonising the word playdate. Also creating a blur between organised play dates and organised activites. From reading what you have here, it seems to me that your main beef is with organised activities becoming a competition. Also you seem to be feeling a little put out that other parents want to really get to know you before leaving their children with you. These are your issues, you are taking it personally, you need to let it go. Also don't use these sweeping judgements to validate your own shortfall in parenting skills - your inability to coach your young son through a shy awkward phase - instead labelling your son as lacking creativity due to overscheduling or blaming playdates for you opting for the easy ipad option! Unfortunately, you are creating judgement and divisiveness rather than creating a spring board for collaborative, supportive parenting. Sure there will be some parents over-scheduling and also over organising within the play, or not giving enough outdoor playtime, or allowing too much screen time. These days (as opposed to when we were young) it is generally not a choice but a necessity for both parents to work - not often having the luxury of working from home, which then requires greater mindfulness and planning in regards to social time. These are not parenting issues they are societal issues. You have three children and have not considered situations past your own situation and social circles. Consider an only child, 5yrs old, with no tv at home and only allowed screen time on Friday and Saturday evening, living on a busy street (with only one other local child), who gets ample outdoor time and ample free play time, this child needs play dates scheduled for a balanced life. This is my child but there would be a plethera of other situations and reasons which require scheduling. Adult supervision (not over organising within the play) is essential. Recently a young boy of 7 died here in Australia, he was 'free-playing' with his siblings in the snow for 10 minutes building snowmen, he was buried in a snowfall from a roof metres from where they were staying - incredibly heartbreaking for that family, those parents are not to blame but it is a sad reminder for the rest of us how precarious this parenting balancing act can be. We all want our children to grow up to be amazing people in an wonderful society, not just our children, but all children. Let us not be judgemental and divisive. Let's start with supporting parents to be the best that they can be, and get behind policies that support families and communities. And let us not demonise the playdate. Regards, Emma

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  120. I am born in Iran and raised in the US. I consider myself bi-cultural. My husband is mixed race, 1/2 Chinese and 1/2 French/Dutch. We have two boys. They are healthy, and whole and well rounded. We do not have play dates for many reasons:
    1. I do not need free babysitting
    2. I do not have the ability, time or resource to do a background check in a family where my kids would spend time with
    3. I can not verify who else has access to the "home" where they will be playing at
    4. I had my children and it is my job to be their voice and advocate and keep them safe, just because I meet parents at their school, doesn't mean I know ANYTHING about them as people or their backgrounds
    We also do not do sleep overs. These are the rules in our home and they work well with us. Take the time to rear you own children and stop using this as an excuse to relinquish duties and chit chat... you can chit chat when kids are older and in school. Enjoy precious moments with them and don't put them in the hands of others you do not know well. Play dates are a bullshit American phenomena! It's why so many adults are "un-well" in this nation, it has to do with the way in which they were reared.

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  121. "Play Dates" as I see them are just a means for friends to get together and have a nice time being active.... So what if the parents can chat with each other, so what if it is a scheduled process. I am a nanny and the children look forward to having these times set aside with particular friends so that they have one on one time with that particular child. It helps them to grow and be social. Of course just taking your children to a play ground and letting them play with all the other children is great to, but sometimes it is good for children to have focus on playing with just one or two at a time, it forces them to concentrate a bit more, and pay more attention.
    Having time to talk with other parents during this "Play Date" helps you to learn more about the families that your child will be eventually going to their house to play or hang out as they get older. If you do not talk with other parents...how do you know where you send your child to play.
    I do not see the problem with them. I believe they help some children socially.

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  122. I'm sorry, but when I see a kid in my sub-division riding his skateboard on his stomach in the middle of the street, I pretty much chalk it up to bad parenting. We should not control every aspect of our kids' lives, but we should show some responsibility...I know an argument would be, "well I did that and I lived, and had a GREAT childhood". You also didn't have to worry about people texting and driving, or doing whatever else in the car besides paying attention. I will teach my kid how to play appropriately and safely. I also will not let her be alone without supervision for some perv to abduct, controlling or not.

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