Dear Ali,

My sister has a policy before she sends her kids on playdates: She asks the parents of that kid if they keep a gun or guns in the house. This sounds like a good idea to me in theory, but honestly, I am too embarrassed to ask. It feels like kind of a rude question to ask people I probably barely know, yet I can see her point about wanting to keep her own kids safe. Any thoughts?Embarrassed but Worried, Too

Dear Embarrassed but Worried,

I agree with your sister 100%. Sadly, you need to ask these things. You also need to be prepared to decline the playdate if the answer is yes. I know it’s awkward and embarrassing, but that’s a whole lot better than the alternative. It is your right to know your kids will be safe. So many accidents happen in homes with kids who manage to gain access to their parents’ guns. Even people who insist they keep their ammunition separate and locked up have accidents with curious kids. This is a good case of “better safe than sorry.”

Tell these parents of your children’s friends that you are not comfortable with guns in the home and clearly ask if they have them. If they say no, great, you can talk about food, rules, allergies, or your favorite magazine, If they say yes, inquire about where the gun is, their safety policy, and why they have it. Ask if their child knows about it. Ask if their child has used it. Ask them what their philosophy is on children and guns. From this conversation, you can then make an informed decision to let your child stay there to play, or not. If not, then the kids can enjoy playdates safely at your house.

Finally, I ask you to ask yourself why are you sending your kids to be at the home of people you barely know? Get to know them. These are people who will be responsible for your child when you are not there. You might want to know more than just about guns. Is there a properly fenced pool? Are there guard dogs? Will an adult be present the entire time? Will anyone be driving your child? Do they have the proper car seats?

It’s awful that we have to live in any sort of fear and feel the need to be so hypervigilant. But these are your kids. Think about what is really important to you, and do your due diligence. Then, let them play and have fun away from you! That independence, while also experiencing how others live, is really important for their social development and autonomy.



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