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After school playdates driving you crazy? Here's help!

Q: My 11-year-old daughter has to have someone over at our house every day. I am so sick of her having company that I could scream. Here's what I've noticed -- all of the other moms seem to have no problem with constantly having kids over and then I feel like a witch for trying to adhere to my own house rules. Any easy way to not be the gossip of all of the other moms and making my daughter and me appear as odd balls? You might think that this is a strange question, but it's really not. Kids can easily be dropped out of their circle of friends if their moms have too many rules and become the scapegoat for many situations -- especially girls.

House rules are vital not only for your sanity but also in setting boundaries for your daughter. Of course, socializing with friends is also important and the cliquish nature of girls is a factor, so I'd recommend a compromise: allow your daughter to have a friend over once or twice a week and allow her to go over to a friends' once or twice a week - leaving at least two days for her to spend at home, helping with chores, catching up on homework, reading, and spending time with the family. It's also likely that the other moms feel the same way as you do - connect with them and keep the lines of communication open. Please visit my site, www.ModernMom.com, for more parenting tips. Remember, as your daughter gets older, you'll find it more and more useful and reassuring to build a solid network with her friends parents now. - Lolita Carrico in Los Angeles, CA

Some things never change no matter a person's age, in this case that being "peer pressure." Many times I chose to follow my heart and head with my own decisions while raising my two daughters, which in most cases weren't the popular ones. Listen to your conscience in making a decision and explain it to your daughter. Perhaps you could involve her in some kind of after school activity, or make plans to do something special alone with her. I wouldn't worry about what other people might think, or the possibility of your daughter being dropped out of her "circle of friends." The popular choice isn't always the best choice. - Debbie Kirchgessner in Madison, WI

I have five kids, and two of mine have a burning need to invite their little friends over on a regular basis, but I find it is disruptive to our household, so I limit it. Sit down and talk to your daughter, explaining exactly why you find it difficult to entertain company day in, day out. You could say things such as: * You feel pressure to keep the house up, because you take pride in your home. * You would like to have more family time. * You think it's time for your daughter to prioritize some other things, too, such as quiet reading, writing letters to grandparents, or spending time with siblings. You have every right to limit the amount of time that other children are in your home. You are the mom, and your daughter needs to understand who runs your household. You might try saying that she is permitted to have someone over one (or two?) afternoons per week, but that is it. Don't worry about what other moms say; just take control and do not let others dictate your day. For additional answers on similar parenting challenges, please visit my site, www.MainStreetMom.com, for more information. - Mia Cronan in Hudson, OH

From Jodie: Talk with your daughter about the house rules and stick with them. Be consistent and even add an additional step by writing them down and making a schedule. Hang it on the fridge. If your daughter brings someone home from school, tell her to read the rules and then following through by asking her company to leave. Don't worry about what others say. If her circle of friends begin to snub her, it's probably time for her to find new ones.

Can you help?

We love Halloween and are very interested in guidelines for the big night for our children. Are there some safety rules we can use and maybe even share with other parents in our neighborhood without looking like know-it-alls?

Is it appropriate to offer grandparents gift-buying suggestions? Each year our kids receive Christmas presents from their grandparents that they just don't want. My mother-in-law already thinks I'm too picky and somewhat snooty. I certainly don't want to add fuel to the fire. Anyone have any suggestions?


ę 2006 Jodie Lynn

Please share your tips and help other parents. Send them - or other parenting questions - to: Parent to Parent, 2464 Taylor Rd. Suite 131, Wildwood, MO 63040. Send e-mail to: here or through the ParentToParent.com website. Jodie Lynn's latest book is Mom CEO (Chief Everything Officer) - Having, Doing, and Surviving It All!, (Stacey Kannenberg Unlimited, an imprint of Cedar Valley Publishing, $14.95).



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