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Do you ask other parents if they have guns in their home?

A guide to playdate safety

Imagine this: Your child has a playdate with a new friend from class. You don't know the parents or maybe you just know them from passing at school pick-up and drop-off, but you've never been to their home. What do you ask them before sending your child over to play? Is it acceptable to ask if they have guns in their home? Are you prepared to cancel the playdate if you don't like the answer?

The pre-playdate interview

As your kids get older, the likelihood you will be friends with every parent of every friend they want to have a playdate with gets slimmer and slimmer. But, you will still need to touch base with the parents at some point -- even just to arrange pick-up times -- giving you the perfect opportunity to ask a few playdate interview questions. For many parents, asking if there are guns in the home is a top priority.

Depending on where you live in the country, this question could be well-received... or scoffed at. A mom of a now tween daughter tells us that for her daughter's first playdate when she was much younger, she asked the other mom if they had any guns in their home, only to be made fun of. She emailed back, "We have all kinds of guns -- Nerf guns, squirt guns, plastic guns..."

Making your decision before you hear the answer

When it comes to how you feel about other parents owning guns, the decision on where you stand probably needs to be made before you hear the answer from the other parents -- this is not something to decide on the fly, as you're dropping off your child at their front door.

Guns are just a boy thing... right?

Moms of girls, don't bypass this question when it comes to playdates if having guns in the home is a serious concern for you. Now a parent herself, one mom shares that they had guns in their home when she was growing up, and she showed every one of her friends where they were. And, she continues, "I was a good kid."

The curiosity about guns doesn't stop at the boys -- parents of girls also need to have those important discussions about gun safety with their girls and teach them what to do if they encounter a gun on a playdate.

As parents, make that decision yourself -- if there are unlocked guns in the home of a friend's, your child isn't allowed to have playdates there (maybe you can host instead) or if there are guns but they are locked up, playdates are fine or maybe guns in another parents' home isn't high on your priority list or you prefer not to ask.

Whatever decision you feel most comfortable with, make that decision and then give your children a run down about where your household stands on the issue -- an age-appropriate discussion, of course. When you are setting up a new playdate, it's easy to ask about guns in the home and reply easily with your answer, whatever that may be.

The reality is if parents have unsecured guns in their home, it's likely they won't tell you anyway, so use your best judgment. Most importantly, educate your kids about gun safety. Another mom shared her tactic in finding out if the friends of her sons had guns in their homes, "I had a bunch of 8-year-old boys over and asked them directly. One [boy] proudly stated that his mom kept one under her bed. Needless to say, my son never went to that house."

The full disclosure playdate hostess

Let's look at the other side of the coin -- when you are playing playdate hostess. If you are a gun-free home, consider making it standard procedure to disclose that to other parents. Some people feel that asking about the guns they own is an invasion of their personal privacy. While that's fine, maybe you should offer to host the playdate instead.

More on child safety

Keeping your autistic child safe: Practical tips for parents
Vehicle safety: Protecting your children from backover accidents
Child safety locks: When should you disable?

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