I got a text inviting the kids to a play date. How do we most politely decline?

By | July 26, 2022

Hello, dad of 2 elementary school daughters here. They make friends pretty easily when they have classes or on the playground.

We have a clique of close friends for them and us, but we’re open to new people of course.

Last week a mom and I chatted after a summer class ended, and exchanged numbers for the kids to play, because they had met over this week-long class. They live one city over and it’s unlikely that we’d see them again, unless we planned it. I don’t think my kids clicked that strongly with them, and further the little brother of the siblings kept trying to give unwelcome hugs to my youngest. I talked to my DD and she doesn’t want to see them again. I’m in agreement. (The mom didn’t hold back her son.). My other daughter doesn’t care, or remember much about her classmate.

My question isn’t whether we hang out with them and start a back and forth. It’s that I want to be polite, and I don’t want to burn bridges, or be rude. And, I’d like to see how other parents are being selective. Do I just not write back? I’m not normally like that.

5 thoughts on “I got a text inviting the kids to a play date. How do we most politely decline?

  1. flagg

    No harm in saying something easy and to the point. I’ve had lots of parents just go “Thanks for the invite but we can’t this time!” And that’s totally fine. Most people don’t pry, they say okay no problem.

  2. cassi

    Don’t just not reply. You need to practice politely declining invitations to be able to teach your daughters how to do it when they’re older.

    I would go with, “Thank you for the invitation; I’m so glad our girls got a chance to meet at [class]. Unfortunately, I was over optimistic about our free time when we discussed a play date earlier & we won’t be able to make it.”

    In the future, have a plan to politely decline exchanging numbers for a play date unless you’re pretty sure you want to follow through.

    [I promise my intended tone is chill even though reading it back sounds snotty]. It’s not “polite” to agree to a nebulous meeting that you don’t intend to make; it’s just avoiding you feeling awkward in the moment. The other mom probably had at least a little stress over sending her text that she didn’t need to feel, and you’re stressing over your reply. Better to just be upfront upfront.

  3. Peloquin Post author

    Rather than giving vague reasons why a play date isn’t in the cards, try thanking the inviting parent and providing a reasonable excuse like, “Thank you for inviting us, but we’re busy that evening and can’t attend. We look forward to seeing you at the next dance class, though!” Make no reference to a rain check, and don’t leave the conversation with, “maybe another time.”

  4. Jess

    My son just completed 3rd grade. He goes to a really great school with small class sizes there are about 54 kids total in his grade level and it is a close knit community. We got an email from another parent of a child that was in his class this last year asking if our son would like to come over and have a playdate with their son. Well, my son absolutely does not want to go on this playdate. He is not friends with the boy. The thing is this boy is severely autistic and requires classroom aides at all times. I do not want to be rude to this boy or his parents though and have no idea what to do.

    On one hand I think it would be a nice gesture for him to suck it up and just do one playdate, but that of course will probably lead to more. Plus, he is so adamantly against it I worry he will have a bad attitude. To be honest, I can put myself in my son’s shoes and I wouldn’t want to do the playdate either. Please help me to do the right thing here. I don’t want to be rude or hurt anybody’s feelings. How should I respond to the email?

    1. leo

      That’s really hard. On one hand, you want to foster empathy and compassion in your son, and it would be great if he could internalize this as a nice thing to do.

      On the other hand, he shouldn’t be forced into a play date with someone just because they are disabled.

      I wonder if the other boy has said something about your son which would lead his mom to believe they are friends. Or if the other boy’s mom really likes you and wants to foster a friendship with you by getting your kids together. Chances are she feels lonely and overwhelmed, as well as lamenting that her son isn’t doing the things some other kids get to do.

      Either way, I don’t think I would subject your son to just dropping him off over at their house. If you want to be kind or test the waters, suggest you both go over. That way he has some support and you both can graciously exit if he needs to. This would serve the dual purpose of providing mom some adult companionship as well. My other thought is offering to meet somewhere there will be more kids or a common activity (pool, children’s museum, park) so they can have more simultaneous play than forced interaction.

      If you want to decline the play date altogether, I think I would just say “sorry, we overscheduled this summer. Maybe we can revisit the idea once school starts again.”


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