Would you feel comfortable letting your child have a playdate in another family’s home? What if you didn’t know the family very well – or even at all?

If you’d feel uneasy about it and probably decline the invite, you’re far from alone. In fact, nearly half of parents recently surveyed said they have declined playdate invitations because they didn’t feel comfortable leaving their child in the other parent’s care, according to a report from Michigan Medicine.

The C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital National Poll on Children’s Health at the University of Michigan is based on responses from 881 parents of at least one child between the ages of 4 to 9. While 22% of parents would decline the invitation outright, 43% said they would stay with their child and 22% would let their child attend the playdate without them.

“Playdates allow children to develop independence, gain experience interacting with other children in an unstructured setting, and have fun with a friend,” Sarah Clark, co-director of the Mott poll, said in a news release on the results. “Before parents send their child on a playdate, they need to feel confident that their child will be safe and appropriately supervised.”

Parents’ top concerns

Despite the prevalence of parental concerns, only 1 in 4 parents said they have been asked about safety issues by other parents in advance of a playdate, Mott reports. Among parents who would ask questions, the top questions they would “definitely ask” before agreeing to a playdate at an unfamiliar classmate’s home include the following:

  • Who’s supervising? (75%)
  • What activities? (55%)
  • Older siblings /adults present? (46%)
  • Pool/trampoline? (41%)
  • Any pets? (38%)
  • How are guns stored? (34%)

The issue isn’t unfamiliar to parents in metro Detroit. In fact, one Michigan mother wrote about the issue of guns and playdates in a Metro Parent article.

Sleepovers are another source of concern, with many parents refusing to allow them altogether and others setting up specific guidelines for when and where they’re OK.

Safety tips for playdates

If you’re unsure how to handle playdates for your children, consider these key questions to ask from the American Academy of Pediatrics. It is also recommended that parents inform the playdate host about any allergies or special restrictions their child may have.

  1. Find out who will be supervising the children.
  2. Ask whether the home has a pool, trampoline or other potentially unsafe items, and whether the children will have access to them.
  3. Find out if there are guns in the home and, if so, how they are secured.
  4. Ask about the family’s restrictions on social media. For example, will the kids be playing video games you don’t allow?
  5. Even if you don’t see any pets when you drop off your child, ask about any animals in the home and whether they are friendly.

Do you feel comfortable with playdates? Tell us in the comments.