mom topics

The playdate dilemma: Do you ask about guns?

Jan. 8, 2013 at 3:36 PM ET


Your child has a met a new friend at school and is invited over for a playdate. Before you let him go, do you have your list of questions ready for the other child’s parent?

Will you ask if they have guns in the home? If they drink alcohol?  If they do drugs?

While discussing whether the names and addresses of people owning gun permits should be published in a newspaper, which recently happened in a suburb north of New York City, Donny Deutsch of TODAY’s Professionals said it was OK for the newspaper to print it because it’s public information that people, especially parents, want to know.

“I’ve got two little girls at home. And I would like to know if they are going on a playdate at house with a gun. I would like to know that it is properly locked up,” Deutsch said.

But when asked if Deutsch would ask the parents about owning guns on his own, Deutsch said he wouldn’t.

“I don’t call every parent proactively and ask, “Is there a gun in your house?...You don’t proactively say to a parent, oh, by the way, is there any cocaine laying on the counter?” Deutsch said.

There’s no doubt that asking personal questions to people you don’t know can be awkward. But unless you plan on keeping your kid in a bubble, playdate and sleepover invitations are bound to come up.

Adriana Velez, a writer for The Stir and Brooklyn mom of one son, disagrees and thinks asking about guns is just one of many questions that should be asked.  Velez recently wrote a story called “9 things to ask before you send your child on a play date,” and said that while “no one wants to be 'that mom' -- the one who gets all neurotic and asks if all the snacks will be organic,” it’s still reasonable to ask certain things of parents you may not know.

Her list includes asking about what the kids will be doing, whether they will be supervised and whether snacks will be served.  But she also thinks you should ask whether there is a trampoline or pool, and whether there are guns in the house.

“You kind of want to know. It doesn't have to turn into a debate, but accidents have happened with unlocked weapons,” writes Velez.

Commenters on Velez’s story came down on both sides of the debate.

One commenter on Facebook said:

"A little extreme I think. Besides if I didn’t know a family well enough to NOT have to ask all these questions, my kid would not be left at their house."

Commenter rose6572 writes:

"Regarding the gun, always be aware that  kids will be kids - no matter how much you teach and educate them.   My 12 yr old's  best friend showed him his father's gun.   I knew there were guns in the house, I know the family and we all educate our kids ...but boys will be boys.  Thankfully, they both know not to touch it, and to treat EVERY gun as if it is loaded (which, the father being a police officer the gun is definitely loaded.) "

Cafémom.com message board users  who are gun owners said they would answer honestly and unapologetically if another parent asked them.

Upsherises writes:

"I would answer them honestly and ask if they wanted to share any concerns. Some families aren't a good match for other families and I think it would benefit us both to know who we're dealing with. I've got nothing to hide but I'm not going to have a stranger poking around my closets or anything."

And jlo1313 says:

"Personally, I don't ask if there are guns in the home.  For some reason I still want to believe in common sense, even though its extinction is becoming more and more apparent.  I automatically assume that people around these parts do have guns, and keep them stored safely and away from their children as I do.  If I am asked, I will tell them, if they want to take their ball and go home, I am perfectly fine with it."


What questions do you ask if your child goes on a play date to house where you don't know the parents? Do you ask about guns? 

Video: TODAY’s Professionals – Donny Deutsch, Dr. Nancy Snyderman, and Star Jones – debate the hot topics of the day.


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