What age is appropriate to allow your child to have a play date in another child's home?
My son is 6, and we recently (finally) moved into a neighborhood that has other children his age for him to play with. Up until the other day, he has never played at another child's house without me being present. However, one of his new friends lives directly next door, and I have made a point of getting to know his mom, as her child has been over our house to play (he is also 6). My son was recently invited to their house to play, so I walked him to their house, left him there with his mom and the other kids (there was another neighbor child the same age there), then walked back to pick him up when it was time to go home. My son was so excited and proud to be able to play at the other child's home, and to have friends. His dad and I live in separate homes, and his dad feels that I am not doing the right thing by allowing play dates at another child's house. So now I am second-guessing myself...I remember playing all over the neighborhood when I was a kid, so I thought it was OK, and important to let him start playing in this manner. Any thoughts?
I think it's really important that children have playdates at their friends' houses, and I would say that six is definitely old enough. My children began having playdates by themselves from the age of around 3 or 4 and have always been very happy to go to someone elses's house. I think it's very good for their confidence, and that they need to learn to play nicely with other children. It also really helps friendships to develop once they are at school.
I think because you felt comfortable (having spent time with the hosting mom and having seen their home) and because your son felt comfortable (and was excited rather than anxious) that letting him have a solo playdate was just fine (and probably really good for him!) And as a mom of 4 & 6 year old boys, I agree that six is definitely old enough.
Co-parenting after a separation is really tricky and obviously you want to do all you can to keep that relationship healthy. Is it possible for you to talk to your ex to find out exactly what his concerns are about the playdate? Maybe if he hears that you know the mom and have spent time in their home and that your son also felt comfortable, your ex will feel more comfortable too. Maybe if you agree to some guidelines around playdates he'll feel better about them moving forward.