Dear Mouthy Housewives,
My son invited a friend over (they’re 10) and the mom called me to confirm that I’ll pick both boys after school and to “make sure there won’t be any screen time” when they are here. I was so taken aback by her question, I didn’t quite have a response, except “of course not!” which was obviously the response she wanted.
Usually, I let the boys decide what they want to do (within reason) and I certainly don’t forbid their using the computer or the TV or video games (again, within reason.) Should I call her back and give the more honest answer? Or just forbid use of any and all electronics when the kid is over here?
Stop Screening the Screen Time
I always wanted to be one of those mothers who called ahead of a playdate to make sure that my child was going to have a wholesome experience, with lots of brain-boosting activities and organic cruelty-free snacks. Ideally when I picked up my kid, she’s be fluent in a new language and brimming with self-esteem and be on her way to getting an athletic scholarship or three.
And it could happen. If only the hosting parent applied themselves a bit instead of sitting back with a cup of that very special something and the newspaper, happy that their kid has someone over so that they can get a few minutes of peace already.
But I admit it– the other reason that I didn’t call is because when I start to think about all the questions that I would want to ask – do you have guns in the house? Anyone on the Sex Offender Registry? Anyone who you think should be on the Sex Offender Registry? Do you allow violent video games in the house? Do you allow people who have played violent video games in the house? Do you have any books by Ann Coulter or Rush Limbaugh in the house? Do you say the Lord’s prayer at mealtime? Where are you on the whole Lean In phenomenon? Who was your favorite Brady?
As you can see, there are endless questions that you can ask, all important and all offering insight into the family who will be hosting your child. Some parents worry when their child goes on a playdate. And of course, if the parent feels that there are one or two questions that are at the top of the list, then by all means. Ask.
But I I don’t like how this mom handled the situation. The way she asked about screen time did not lend itself to a discussion, but more or less demanded an “of course!” answer. The fact that she did it badly; however, doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t call her to talk about it.
So give her a call and be honest. Tell her that you weren’t expecting her question and after giving it some more thought, you wanted to let her know that no, screen time is not off-limits at your house during playdates, but that it is usually for a limited time. That way you are being honest and she can make the decision that she needs to make.
At the end of the day, we all have to parent the best we can. For most of us, that includes trusting the parenting community we belong to to take care of our children. And us returning the favor.