Whether it's a personality clash, differing values, an age and experience gap, or just bad manners—some parents can be a real playdate downer!
Here are some tips for dealing with difficult parents at your next playdate:
Know your sore spots. There are times when certain people can be mildly annoying, and other times when they can be downright upsetting. When that happens, chances are that terribly annoying person has simply stepped on one of your "sore spots". Sore spots for most parents revolve primarily around two areas: self-esteem and control. So anyone who makes you feel insecure in some way or who limits your sense of control can be very upsetting. For example, if another mom gives off an "I know best" attitude and seems to challenge you on your parenting style, you will get more agitated with her as you become less confident (and let's face it, every parent has some confidence issues). Diminished confidence is not a sign that you lack skill, it is primarily a sign of a strong desire to have things go right and to avoid mistakes. Good parents always wonder if they are doing the best they can, so any criticism from the outside is easy to take to heart, no matter how unjustified it might be. So if you run up against an "I know best" mom, take her words with a grain of salt and be willing to simply respond "But I've found that my way works best with my child."
Don't take it personally. A warm, engaging, confident parent is not interested in making you feel inadequate or in comparing her child more favorably to yours. Yes, some parents will gloat about their child's accomplishments, but that is not automatically a sign they are trying to make you feel bad. If a parent is simply coming on too strong in outlining their child's achievements, simply smile and try to change the subject. Try not to get into a competition. That will only make your time together even more stressful. If the other parent is boasting at every playdate and not just occasionally, you may need to arrange dates with someone else.
Be cautious about lackadaisical parents. Some parents allow their kids to take more risks before they intervene (kids climbing tall trees, kids horsing around and almost getting injured and so on). Others allow their kids to wreak havoc in your house before they step in. Some will sit back and ignore it when their child gets too aggressive with your child. If you say or do nothing to avoid sounding rude, you run a risk that the kids will get hurt (or your furniture damaged). It's best to speak up to the kids and say "That's not allowed here-family rule!" when they are at your home. Be consistent. (Of course, you will have less say if you are at the other parent's home, so you may have to arrange more playdates at your home or on neutral territory.)
Stick to your guns. If you feel strongly about an issue, don't back down. If you're unsure, stick to your guns anyway. You can think about your decision later on, if you wish, but don't make a rash decision that goes against your instincts just to appear nice. Trust your inner wisdom. For instance, if another parent tends to arrive late, end the playdate on time even if you have to make up a story about some other commitment. Don't reward chronic lateness by accommodating to it. Your time is valuable.report abuse