Q: You have a strict screen-time limit for your children. When they go to a friend’s house, you’d like the other parents to stick with your limits. What should you say?
A: Unless it involves a serious safety issue — like a potentially severe food allergy — insisting that other parents abide by your rules is tricky, both politically and practically. Making demands is a quick way to make enemies.
Ask the other parents about their screen-time limits. Don’t suggest that the other parents are wrong or bad — every family is affected by different things. It’s fine to offer why you have less, but don’t shame the other parents.
If you have a problem with what the other family allows, you can bring their child into your home. Or you can just flat-out ban your child from going over to the friend’s home. But be careful not to overreact. A couple of extra hours of screen time one evening is not going to damage your child or undermine your rules. It might show your child that other kids get more screen time, but that’s likely already common knowledge.
A: The first time your child makes a new buddy, call the parent and introduce yourself. Learn about each other, express excitement about the kids connecting and exchange information like emergency contacts and cellphone numbers.
After that, you can move into a discussion of rules and values. A good entry point for this conversation is to express concern for the other child. Say, “Since we’ll be looking after one another’s children, are there any allergies, concerns or rules you’d like me to be aware of?” If the parent doesn’t mention your screen-time concerns, bring it up. You can say, “We have a rule in our house about screen time,” then describe what it is and why it matters to you.
This conversation gives you an immediate feel for the other parent’s rules and values and will show you if you’d like your child under the parent’s supervision.
MICHELE BORBA, author of “The Big Book of Parenting Solutions”