As your child grows and begins to develop his or her own community, there will be times when you may have to give your child over to another adult’s supervision. Though you probably want to go to every social event your child partakes in—you most likely can’t (and shouldn’t).
It’s perfectly normal to be uncomfortable leaving your child with a total stranger but there are ways to navigate the process. Consider having a joint playdate or meeting up for coffee to get to know each other. With time, you’ll begin to have a better perspective on this individual and if they have a positive influence on your child.
Don’t know where to start the conversation? Here are 3 questions to help break the ice.
1. It can be stressful being a parent. How do you cope?
This question is a good ice breaker because it is immediately disarming. You let the other parent know that you also get stressed out sometimes, but it can also be revealing. If you let the other parent talk, he or she will eventually reveal their coping strategies—even some that you might find unsavory. Typical ways for parents to unwind can range from long, relaxing baths, a good book at night when everyone’s asleep to the occasional beer or glass of wine, which isn’t necessarily bad. However, it may be important to note if you run into a parent who immediately barks, “Cocktails! I could not get through this without cocktails!” You may want to assess whether or not the parent is joking or if any behaviors reveal a drinking problem.
2. What was college like for you? How did you spend your early twenties?
This question is not meant to cast judgment on parents who may have partied, drank or abused drugs when they were younger. However, it can be a great starting point to a conversation about what they miss from those days, what things they still cling to and what they’re glad are over.
3. How do you feel about marijuana decriminalization?
This is a talking point that most parents will have an opinion about and can often shed light on their thoughts about all sorts of substances and alcohol. You might hear everything from, “I agree with it—in my experience, alcohol can be more dangerous than marijuana,” to “We’re going to have a nation of potheads!” to “Really, I think all drugs should be legalized because they only do harm if you don’t know how to use them.” In the end, this can help you gauge the other parent’s general stance on drug or alcohol abuse.
Though not every parent’s views will necessarily match up with yours, exercising discretion on what kinds of environments you put your child in is only a natural part of parenting.