Ask Amy: My kids enjoy playdates, but why do we always have to be the hosts?

Dear Amy: I’m a mother of two children, ages 7 and 10.

My kids enjoy playing with their friends outside of school, and I mostly don’t mind hosting playdates.

We do way more than our share of hosting, however.

One of my son’s best friends is frequently invited to our house, but rarely reciprocates.

The mom even acknowledges that they “need to have him (my son) over,” but the invite never seems to arrive.

This mom is busy (she has three kids) and rarely turns down our invitations, but rarely invites my son over.

Short of inviting ourselves to their house, is there a way to politely ask them to play there more often?


I get tired of having the same kids over and rarely getting invited back, but I don’t want my son to never get to play with his bestie, either.

Should I just suck it up?

– Tired of Hosting

Dear Tired: Children, like adults, vary in terms of their friendship and companionship wants and needs.

It sounds as if your son is a sociable child who enjoys having friends around, and he has a mom who is generous and accommodating.

(I assume you also have one of those houses that kids enjoy spending time in, with an accommodating parent who has games, toys, and snacks at the ready.)

Your son’s “bestie’s” mother has three children.

You don’t note their ages, but raising three children is exponentially more challenging than raising two.

According to a 2013 survey of “more than 7,000 mothers” by, the women reported that three children is the most stressful number of kids to have (those with more than three children reported that achieving a “critical mass” at home seems to make things easier).

I’ll suggest three ways to achieve more balance:

By “sucking it up” a little bit more – perhaps by taking more well-deserved pride in your parenting and your sociable household.

By asking this mom in a friendly and frank way, “Can you have my son over to your house one afternoon this week? He and I would really appreciate it.”

And also by telling your own sociable children “no” more often than you do when they want playdates at your house.

It is good for your children to experience occasional “boredom,” where they are not diverted and entertained by their friends or by you.

• • •

Dear Amy: I love and appreciate my mother-in-law, I really do.

She and her husband live about 500 miles away from us, and ever since our two children were young, she has invited them to spend three weeks during the summer at their farm, which is located in a beautiful rural area.

The kids love this time away, and my husband and I do, too.


Last year when we went to pick up the kids (a girl and a boy, ages 6 and 9), we were quite shocked to see that their grandmother had cut their hair. Both kids wear their hair fairly long and we have always let them decide how they want to have their hair.

I didn’t mention their haircuts, but in the car on the way home they both expressed how upset they were.

It might sound like a small thing, but the kids seem reluctant to share their summer with their grandparents this year.

I’d like to address this with my mother-in-law and pave the way for everyone to have a happy time this summer.

Your suggestion?

– Concerned Mom

Dear Concerned: Hair is an extremely important identifier, even for young children. Some grandmothers seem unable to respect this. They can’t resist the call of the scissors or curb their desire to control how their grandchildren present to the world, and grandchildren are powerless to resist.

The best time to raise this would have been last summer.


You should definitely do so, now. Tell your MIL that you value and respect her, but that she should never cut your children’s hair. Say, “I can imagine that their hair might drive you crazy, but can you agree to let this go? The kids would appreciate it, and we would, too.”

• • •

Dear Amy: I thought your advice to “Stressed Out Daughter” was disrespectful when you compared her mother’s behavior to a toddler’s. I hope she doesn’t adopt your attitude toward her parent.

– Upset

Dear Upset: “Stressed Out Daughter” was in the later stages of an at-risk pregnancy, with a toddler at home. Her mother was being unsupportive and demanding. I suspected that she would relate to the toddler analogy.

Amy Dickinson

Amy Dickinson writes the syndicated advice column, “Ask Amy,” which is carried in over 150 newspapers and read by an estimated 22 million readers daily. Email