Playdates, sleepovers, blanket rules… and guns

The FBI estimates that there are over 200 million privately owned guns in the USA – and that one in every four people has one. So that means it’s pretty likely that at least one family in your child’s class has guns in their home. If your child is having playdates and sleepovers, then should you be asking about the guns in the home?

How do you ask about guns? What would you do if there were guns? Would you be offended being asked about guns? Would you be offended if a parent asked, and then declined a playdate because you have them?

It’s not that simple

I think you can know another parent quite well and still not know if there are guns in the house. You might have guns, and not think twice about whether or not it’s worth talking about. They’re just standard stuff. Maybe you just don’t care about guns either way.

When we lived in Sydney, a school principal said to the full assembly hall, “If you haven’t met and know the other parents, then say no to play dates. It’s simple.” His comment tipped off a lot of conversations (and really, it’s not ‘simple’), but I can definitely see merit in his way of thinking. Perhaps if we make things a little more black and white for ourselves, and made some general all-the-time rules, the challenge of parenting would be a little less, and we would stop doubting ourselves all the time.

Let’s try that on for a moment. Some blanket rules instead of the ‘test me every time’ ones that are so prevalent, and that seem to say to our children that if they ask just one more time they might get a different answer. Blanket rules that we are ready to enforce.

But if one of your black-and-white, blanket rules is you can’t have playdates/sleepovers if there are guns in the house, then we’re back to this: How do you ask about guns?



  • Wow. Another great topic.

    I’m okay with people owning guns, but if your guns are not locked up, my kids aren’t at your house.

    I’ll be certain to ask about gun ownership for future playdates. Right now, most of our playdates are at parks.

  • It’s a great idea to have playdates at public places, especially if they’re free! How do you know if the guns are locked or not? Do you ask? (I have no answers here myself!)

  • Before I even had kids, I was looking through a parents magazine (the ONLY reading material available) while waiting to see my doctor. I saw a public service ad that essentially asked the same question about guns in friends’ houses. I tucked it away and now that I’m a parent, I need to remember it. I don’t want my kids playing in a house that has guns, yet our immediate family has locked gun cabinets. As for friends, I think we need to ask that question. It should be part of assessing whether the place will be safe for our children to play. No, it isn’t easy. But it’s important. Too many kids die while playing with guns.

  • Awesome topic. I will say I ALWAYS ask – always. Do you have guns, where are they kept, do you lock them up? Where’s the ammo. Most responsible gun owners answer that without a hesitation. However, i’ll throw a wrench in that….some very close friends of ours only told us about the unlocked, loaded gun they keep in their bedroom recently. Unfortunately it’s a real deal-breaker. Not sure what you do if people don’t tell you the truth. (they were totally up front about their other guns.)

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