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Playground Politics

Playground Politics

The election is finally over, and although we’re all probably worn out from this campaign season, I thought it might be appropriate to have a little discussion about politics, but not the presidential variety. Beyond government and public policy decisions, the broader definition of politics is generally about the inevitable power struggle in our social relationships.

The truth is we are engulfed in politics of some sort all the time, whether it be at work, school, or in our personal relationships. And the playground is no exception.

Have you ever watched your child make a new friend? It’s usually pretty easy. Granted, some children have a harder time making friends than others, but for the most part kids just walk right up to one another say hi, introduce themselves, and boom instant friendship. Ok, perhaps I’m overstating it a little bit, but you get the idea.

[sws_pullquote_right]I spend whole days with people, I’m like, I never would have hung out with you, I didn’t choose you. Our children chose each other. Based on no criteria, by the way. They’re the same size.” – Louis C.K. [/sws_pullquote_right] As my daughter gets older and really starts to develop friendships with other kids, I have become even more aware of something that my dear friend Talia and I have observed over the last several years – it can be difficult to make new friends as an adult. That is, once you are no longer in a school setting, you’ve entered the workforce, gotten married or developed long-term relationships, and of course, had children. That’s why I was so amused when Talia sent me this New York Times article about this very thing.

But one of the most interesting things about this article was not the myriad of reasons it can be hard to form solid friendships as an adult (those were really just confirmations of stuff we already knew), it was the mention of the following quote from comedian, Louis C.K., that really got my attention, “I spend whole days with people, I’m like, I never would have hung out with you, I didn’t choose you. Our children chose each other. Based on no criteria, by the way. They’re the same size.”

I laughed out loud when I read this because I thought, “Yes, I have been there!” And sometimes it’s not a case of disliking the other parents, it’s just you don’t necessarily jibe, you know what I mean? And that quote got me to thinking about how you handle such situations when your kids are cuckoo about each other, but the parents, not so much. And furthermore, what do you do when your kid’s friends’ values don’t necessarily align with your own?

First and foremost, I don’t think it’s necessary for parents of children who are friends to become BFF’s. I do think it’s important to be welcoming, civil, and polite. And perhaps as Louis C.K. mentions, you might not spend time with these folks otherwise, but it doesn’t have to be a bad thing. For example, spending time around people who are different from you can open you up to new perspectives. It can also serve as a catalyst for talking to your child about other kids they might not have much in common with and how to interact with them. Surely, these are life lessons we should be teaching our kids by example.

And as for differing values, well, it depends. If your child’s friend is a bad influence on them, I say explain why you have to cut ties, and keep it moving. But if their friend’s family has a different religious affiliation than their own, or a non-traditional parenting style, I think it’s ok to reinforce your own family values, but not impose any of your judgments as a parent onto your kid. And by the way, our children pick up on our behavior and our attitudes. They’re intuitive little sponges. So, if we catch ourselves throwing a little shade someone else’s way, I think it’s important to check that behavior and be honest with our kids if they ask about it.

And for those of you, who may be struggling to bond with a specific set of parents, look at it this way. Although our kids’ friendships may sometimes be easily formed, they can also be a bit fickle. Depending on your child’s age, their best friend this week could be their arch enemy the next one. But seriously, so what if we don’t form life-long relationships with the parents of all our kid’s friends? I think teaching tolerance and better yet, understanding, begin with us as parents – both on and off the playground.


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  • As a first time mom, this is definately something to think about. I am a SAHM and my son is almost two. We have play dates but they are always with kiddos of my friends; therefore we already mesh. I am so glad I read this for the future! Thanks!

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