Do You Supervise Your Child At Parties?

Do You Supervise Your Child At Parties?

So I was surfing a certain website for parents recently when a post brought me up short and made me question my parenting skills. (Don't you hate it when that happens?)

The gist of the person's post was that they'd dropped their child off at a soft-play centre to attend a friend's birthday party, and happened to notice that a classmate of the same age - around four years old - had also been dropped off but left at the party without parental supervision.

*Cue major attack of parental guilt.*

The person who started the thread wanted to know whether others thought it was acceptable to entrust the care of your child to someone you only knew from the school gates.

Now, leaving aside that the poster surely can't have known how well the mothers in question knew each other, I found myself wondering if it was remiss of me to have done something very similar - several times - when my lads were little.

Scrolling down the thread, it seems lots of parents agreed that leaving your child under the supervision of the parent in charge of the party was perfectly reasonable. Loads of people said that's just what parents do at parties, to the extent that staying at the party of a child whose parents you don't know well to oversee your child would be seen as much odder than leaving them in the care of the parent in charge.

I'm torn. As a Londoner, I struggled to get to grips with life in a tiny, rural community where everyone seems to know everyone else and staying at a party would have made me stick out like a sore thumb.

And yes, of course I appreciate that sticking out like a sore thumb is a small price to pay for ensuring your child's safety and wellbeing. But I'd never leave my child unattended at a birthday party if I didn't feel supremely confident that the person in whose care I'd left them would be up to the task. Does that mean I have to know that person well? I don't think so. I'd even go so far as to say that allowing my kids to stretch their wings by attending birthday parties without me from a youngish age has been good for them. Is that reasonable? I'm not so sure, now.

What do you think? As a parent, do you expect to stay and supervise your child at every birthday party they attend? And if so, up until what age? If not, do you have any qualms about leaving them to their own devices at parties and have you ever doubted the wisdom of doing so?

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  • SallieDollie

    My son is 6 years old and nearly at the end of year 1 so has been to a lot of children's parties! I too wonder about what age is suitable to drop children off at a party. Out of all the parties I have been to there has only been one that some of the parents left their child there without them, but only because the mother of the child who's party it was, said to them that it was okay. All of the parents are lovely people at school but I still don't personally feel comfortable to leave me son at a party just yet, I'm thinking when he's 8 years old and older I will then feel comfortable to do so.

    • Natty

      at my daughters 7th birthday party I was amazed at how many parents just dropped their children off and left. There was myself and my husband and about 25 children and about 4 other parents. I was also sorting food, games etc and was paranoid about a child wandering out. There was a lot of pressure on us

      • monkey

        Parents always stay at every party I've attended with my twins who are now in Reception. I think I've known of one parent who asked the host if they could pop out as they had an older child who needed picking up. If I had to supervise kids I didn't know well (and even some I did know well) I would literally hyperventilate...

        • Dollydaydream

          We didn't leave our kids at parties until they were 8/9. It was a bloody nightmare having to sit at those godawful Wacky Warehouses trying to make small talk, but I hate those places and there's always at least one kid whose mother is two busy gossiping to notice them bashing your kid in the head with their shoe. 

          They're 9 and 10 now, and more often than not we leave them because we know all of their friend's parents well and the Wacky Warehouse days are done. Unless they ask us to stay, and then I send my husband because I still find it bloody painful. 

          • lisawilk

            I have dropped my child off and left him on his own since he was about 4. I offer to stay but have always been told there's no need.  I usually know the parents even if it's not well.  I always put my phone number in his pocket just in case though. As a parent of a child I would prefer the children to be dropped off. I would only organise a party if I had enough helpers (or had roped my family in to helping me) to cover the numbers. I always find children behave better when their parents are not around and having worked with children for 10 years I have no qualms about telling them off if I had to (even if the parents were there)!

            • biglesleyc

              I always stay. We held a 7th birthday party recently and 2 parents (out of 28) left their kids. It was a nightmare as one of the boys ended up injured by another bullying kid. 

              • Cheesecone1

                I would usually stay, to be sure he was safe and happy.  But if I couldn't I eulogies leave mobile and explicitly handover to a parent in charge.

                I believe to do so at school "dump and run" in first school in the playground is dicey as the school only look after the children when they are in the door of school, not the gate...