Ask Kari: Another parent I trusted left my daughter unsupervised — how should I handle this situation?

Dear Kari,

My eleven-year-old daughter recently went to a birthday party and when I dropped her off at the party I purposely introduced myself to the child’s mother, verifying she was in charge at the party. The girls were to go to a movie and then back to the birthday girl’s home for cake. I later found out that the parents dropped the children off at the local movie theater and left, leaving them with no supervision, money to buy snacks, and then were late picking them up. I did not find this out until driving my daughter home. I am furious that another parent put my child at risk by leaving them unsupervised in the community after inviting them to a children’s party. How would you handle talking to the child’s mother?

Mad Momma

Dear Mad Momma,
I can imagine that you were terribly disappointed to find out from your daughter that they were left at the movies without supervision or resources. The child’s parent took a big risk leaving a group of 11 year olds in a public arena unsupervised. You were correct to assume the invitation to their home for a birthday party meant the parent would have remained with the children. That would have been the responsible thing to do. Unfortunately, not everyone parents with thoughtful responsibility. If you feel a strong need to state your feelings to the birthday girl’s mother, I would suggest doing so in person to help gauge whether she is even aware of her poor choice. Doing so over the phone/email can lead to miscommunications. I also suggest that you remind your daughter of the options that she has in the future when she feels unsafe in a situation (give her examples of things she could do: she could call/text you for support). Also, I would let your daughter know that she is not allowed to go to this friend’s home as they seem to have different rules for how they parent from you and you are not comfortable with that.


As published in the February 2013 issue of Connections.


About Kari:

Kari O’Neill, MSW, LICSW, is a licensed independent clinical social worker and a resident of Issaquah Highlands.

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