Do You Supervise Your Child At Parties?

Do You Supervise Your Child At Parties?
18 May 2016

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?

TOPICS:   Parenting Tips


  • Lindsey H.

    Yes! Wouldn't expect someone else to supervise my children. They're 2, 4 and 5.

  • Shauna M.

    I stayed with my daughter til she got to p1 (age 4) as at that age all the other parents were doing the same.

  • Claire B.

    My daughters 6 and I still wait with her. Once I didn't and the party finished early and didn't check everyone had been collected. She was left in the soft play til we arrived to pick her up :hushed: luckily it was no longer than 10 minutes. also for practical stuff like one of her friends at a party was left and couldn't reach any of the party food so came to me for help. Felt so sorry for her x

  • Karen M.

    Yes I never leave as they are my responsibility not anyone else's plus I'm not very trusting when it comes to my children so I will be there to supervise.

  • Chantelle R.

    I always stay at parties ! I think its unfair on the birthday child's parent for you expect them to look after your child ! I had parents leave their child at my daughters party and had to spend my time comforting them because they wanted their parents !!

  • 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.

  • Carys E.

    I've always stayed with my daughter who's 7. However we have had a few parties for her at Pizza Hut and a pamper party. I told the parents they didn't have to stay, some of them did leave. I don't mind looking after them as it's only ever 8-10 children maximum

  • Karen G.

    I always ask the parent if they need me to stay or have enough helpers. They never went to classmates parties until school age though, might have been different if they were younger. Also would never have left them if they felt uneasy about it.

  • Linda C.

    I find it hard enough watching my own two. They are only 1 and almost 3 (I realise it's obviously meaning older kids) but I can't imagine having a party and being left to look after 10-20 kids. Especially if someone can't behave or his pushing and shoving or just misbehaving in general.

  • Sally A.

    I have always stayed with my 6 year old son but I think when he's 8 years old I will feel comfortable to leave him as he's a well behaved child x

  • Natasha S.

    Run for the hills....:runner::runner::runner::runner:

  • Laura J.

    We haven't been to a single party this year :speak_no_evil::see_no_evil: I wouldn't like to leave my 5 year old but I've had them leave theirs at my son's party which was stressful and who needs more stress wen u r throwing a party!?

  • Joanne M.

    I have 3 children I wouldn't leave my 4 year old , I have started to leave my 7 year old for the hour as long as it's ok with the host . I started leaving my 9 year old when he was about 7 . I think every child is different , my children started asking me could they be left & would I pick them up instead of me staying .... It's based on trust & common sense personally .

  • Tracey J.

    My son is almost 8 and I stay and help if I can

  • Melanie T.

    ive left my daughter at parties since she was 3! I trust the parents who are there, she knows every child at the party and the parent has my number. I think it's good for the child to have time with friends when parents aren't breathing down their necks, it's never bothered my daughter in the slightest. I don't expect parents to stay at parties I've had for my daughter, I find that the kids can't relax if mums are there! when I was a kid in the 80's parents never stayed at parties so not sure what's changed!!

  • Elizabeth B.

    Depends on the situation. At a play centre I would hope some parents would stay as it's too big to keep an eye on all of them. Recently had my boys 5th birthday party and a couple of parents stayed for an hour then left, I did call in family members to help though. I like them to leave as I want them to be able to have a couple of hours off. The kids were good as gold. Saying that my 2 at 5 and 7 will not go to a party if we leave, no matter what. It's a real pain! I want them to be comfortable going off without me, I wouldn't supervise them at their friends houses if they went somewhere for tea.

  • Helen L.

    I stayed until my son started going to school - he was the one who waved me off and told me he didn't need me :fearful: so age 4 . . . He tells me to leave him alone when friends come round too now, big boy doesn't want his uncool mummy around :sob: also as a parent running a party, children behave a million times better without their parent too!

  • Melissa L.

    I always stay, Think I will until around 7 / 8 depending on what the host prefers, where it is and how well I and my child knows them!

  • Nicola C.

    I always stay I'm always shocked when parents leave their kids at parties I hope no one leaves theirs at my son's party lol

    • Joanne B.

      They will lol. I always leave my daughter she is 6 there no need for me to be there I always ask her and she says no she doesn't want me there but if she said yes I would stay.

    • Nicola C.

      Thy bloody better not thy can stay and look after their own brats lol iv been to parties with kids who's parents leave them thyr like wild animals, in fact I have a farm and all my animals are better trained than some of those kids lmao, I like to stay and watch my kids I also enjoy watching them play and enjoy having a chat with the other mums, my boys having a BBQ birthday this year so I will be asking parents to stay to supervise their kids around the fire,the farm etc I'm 7 months pregnant and will be doing facepainting so no time to look after other people's kids :/ I'm not a complete bitch honest lmao

    • Katie M.

      , I always ask parents, but as soon as they give me the nod, I'm like a greyhound out the trap, halfway down the road....! :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye::stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:

  • 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...

  • Kathleen P.

    Always! You can't expect other parents to look after your child at any age

  • 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. 

  • Louise C.

    I left my daughter at the age of 4 after being told I wasn't allowed to talk to her at parties and I had to sit on the bench. Personally I hate it when other parents stay at a party I just feel like I'm being watched and judged. I have my friends and family there to help. My daughter is having her 4th party this Saturday and i will relax more with no parents there.

    • Becky Y.

      Me too!

    • Bobbiejo L.

      Defo x

  • Nadine N.

    I always stay, I had a party once and these parents left their child who was naughty the whole time, I got fed up of telling him off. If he was mine he'd have been sent away from the party for behaviour. I mostly only go to parties where I know them out of school anyways, as we don't get any family time, otherwise as my partner works all week and Sunday's so Saturday is our day, so I'd stay and help anyways x

  • Sarah D.

    I personally think 4 years old is too young. The parents holding the party want to enjoy it (well, as much as they can!), and ensure their child has a wonderful time. They don't want to be worrying about the wellbeing of children that they may hardly know. I don't mind going to parties, whilst my child plays, I get to have a chat with my Mum friends, so I don't see staying as a problem.

  • Luba B.

    Depends how good I know the parents.

  • Sarah J.

    I always stay and by son is now 7. I'm sure he'll tell me soon enough that he doesn't want me around any more, so for as long as I'm allowed, I want to be a part of his little world. I think it's lovely watching him have fun with his friends.

  • Tara G.

    Always. There my children why would I dump them on for someone else to watch. There is to much going on for children to be supervised by one person

  • Lj S.

    I stay just for party food as I love party food :joy: also stay with my kids

  • Angela S.

    They are your children - your responsibility and a soft play centre definitely not a place remember some of the hosts may never have met your child before and if they are hosting party they are busy. I never left my eldest til 8 when of course it isn't cool and parties aren't big any more and it is usually a small group of 4/5 which is manageable and the parents are usually good friends by then, but 4/5 the parents are strangers !

  • 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)!

  • Cadey R.

    Stay always... There's too many kids for just a couple of parents to watch, plus it's nice to watch them enjoying thereselves :-)

  • Beth F.

    I wouldn't leave my daughter at the minute 4.5 - she's quite shy and can get upset easily and wouldn't want the party hosts to have to deal with that! Been to parties where parents have lefts kids and they've spent the whole time in tears for their parents :unamused: I've she got invited to a small party at someone's home who I knew very well and the parents said I could leave I would probably leave her next year, but not at a big soft play/ hall party for a few more years yet!

  • Siobhan M.

    Depends, I used to stay. But now I leave she is 7 so fully able to behave for the length of a party. I also never expected any parents to stay at her parties. The last 2 have been at our house. Would have felt awkward if they had stayed and sat in my living room for 2 hrs.

    So I think it depends on age and location of the party

  • Ruth O.

    Depends on the child, my eldest would still rather I stay. My four year old begged to br left at a party this weekend. I checked with the host (who we know quite well) she was happy, has lur number and my girl was thrilled to have the independence! I bet some parents were looking at her though, thinking that poor girl left on her own!! :joy: so long as the child and host is happy, that's the main thing!

    • Ruth O.

      I was most worried about her remembering her manners, lol, apparently she was a good girl and helped them tidy at the end :joy:

  • 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. 

  • Hayley B.

    I recently went to a party with my 6 year old in a soft play I paid for my 2 year old to go in and play to nearly all of the parents left minus 3 of us but the birthday girl was late so all the other parents left their children then who then become my responsibility because the party host kept talking to me asking if I knew where the party mum and birthday girl was they finally turnt up 30 minutes before it was over I had 3 of the children crying because they hurt their self but no I wouldn't leave mine unless I knew the parent really well or maybe if it was just a few of them going pictures or something

  • Lorna H.

    I always stay at parties (my eldest is almost 5), some parents do drop off but at a couple of parties I have been to recently I have caught other children wandering off. The last party in particular, as I was leaving at the end of the party, I caught 1 little boy (age 5) wandering outside to look for his Dad 3 times!!!! Each time I took him back and told the person who was running the party that I found him outside looking for his Dad and then he wandered out again, (I ended up hanging around as I was worried about him). I think people that always drop at parties maybe don't realise how busy parents can be at some parties and don't actually watch their children at all, seeing this as a 'stay at party parent' horrifies me! I am just in the process of organising my daughters party, and I wouldn't be happy if people left their children. She is having 30 children and there will be just my husband and I there, so to run all the party games, sort the food, watch my own 2 children etc is plenty enough to do rather than check where other peoples children are all the time too!

  • Jo A.

    It wouldn't even occur to me not to stay and look after my kids and make sure they are behaving and ok!!! Until they are older! Though there could be a first time for me to try out dropping them off and going!!!! :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:

    • Emma S.

      I'm standing on the door to make sure no parents get out!!!! :blush: x

  • Cheryl W.

    I stay. It is not someone else's responsibility to keep my kids safe. With so many kids to watch, party games etc they need additional adult support. Anyone invited to my lg party is aware parent must stay.

  • 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...

  • Becca I.

    I wouldn't ever leave my child, it's not the party hosts job to watch a million children. And you also don't know all the other parents.

  • Emily S.

    I have a four year old and a newborn. I am happy to watch the children who are invited to my four year olds parties if I wasn't we wouldn't have invited them. She doesn't need me to stay at parties. She interacts better when I'm not there. I personally would rather parents didn't stay the children play better together when they aren't double checking with mommy and daddy. I ask the parents hosting the party what they would like me to do.

  • Keira D.

    I left my daughter from when she was 4. I always ask if she wants to stay and ask the parents if the mind first. I happy for parents to leave their kids at her party too, especially if I hosting it in our house as I not got much room for the kids let alone their parents and siblings too.

  • Hazel T.

    I stay with my son who is 4 because he doesn't like me leaving but my daughter who is now 7 has been happy being left at parties from the age of 4

  • Donna M.

    Yes always. Surpised at my son 5th party how many para rd left there children at party by themselfs

  • Samantha S.

    I still stay at parties with my daughter shes 6 x

  • Ellie F.

    I always stay at the parties with my children my oldest is 6 nearly 7 I wouldn't dare just leave him

  • Nikki M.

    I held a party last weekend for my 5 year old, was the 1st party where school friends were invited... Lots of parents left (some leaving me a number, some not even telling me!) I spent a lot of time having to take children to the toilet, I couldn't just show them where they were they wanted me to wait! I had one little girl that wanted me to take her round the games & help with the activities... Luckily I could pass her back onto friends who were helping out so I could get on with the hosting bit! Some kids are better then others to be left, but I personally wouldn't leave mine at a party just yet, not a school party where you don't know who's there & chances are your child won't be watched out for like you would yourself. I'd hate for my daughter to feel lost. I felt like a sitting service the amount of children I had to look after.

    Inviting a load of school kids was too stressful anyway, next year just a handful of selected school friends with family friends will be the way forward :wink:

  • Tia J.

    I always stay's not other parents responsibility to look out for other children. Especially if they need the loo etc or miss their parents. Parents have enough stress trying to entertain a whole party for the birthday boy/girl. I wouldn't feel right not watching over my own child. But I guess each situation is different.

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