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Parents at school using playdates to network with other parents. I am told it's rife - but I think not!

(47 Posts)
reallyandtruly Tue 05-Aug-08 08:54:10

My dc's 'good' state primary school attracts a lot of middle class families - more so each year. The school is located in a part of London which is far from posh. This school and its surrounding streets form a small middle class enclave.

I would say the school is encouraging this aspirational trend with a stricter uniform code, more extra curricular music activities and more upmarket social events for parents etc.

According to my friend, who is on lots of school committees and knows many parents, there's an unbelievable amount of social engineering and snobbery involved in encouraging the 'right' friendships between children there. Parents are keen to socialise with the 'right' families, so children only tend to get invited to homes when the parents are friends (or would-be friends) with each other.

I think she is being bitter and twisted. Wiothout going into details, I know not she has some enemies at the school and is not as popular as she used to be.

I like to think that most parents are led by their children as to who they make friends with. What sort of family the child comes from is a secondary consideration.

But I am not so sure. I have seen how some parents are sucked up to while others are pushed out. And I think there is definitely some snobbery at the school - a minor example of this - we recently swapped our car for a much better one which I used for the school run. A boy in my daughter's class asked her what her father did for a living as his parents wanted to know.

So, is my friend right? Do you think social networking between parents is the real driving force behind many playdate invites? Is this your experience at your primary school?

Overmydeadbody Tue 05-Aug-08 08:59:16

We are social creatures and we seek out similar like-minded people to socialise with. It doesn't only happen at schools.

Everywhere we gop we seek out and are attracted to other people who we see as similar to us.

No big deal.

taipo Tue 05-Aug-08 09:01:20

It certainly wasn't the case at my dd's London primary, but I could imagine it definitely does go on in those schools where middle class parents fight tooth and nail to get their dc a place.

reallyandtruly Tue 05-Aug-08 09:05:47

But overmydeadbody, 6 year old children don't tend to think quite like that, do they? So if they say they want 'x' to come round, you don't know if 'x''s family are similar to yours.

TotalChaos Tue 05-Aug-08 09:10:27

I think it's human nature to be keen to encourage friendships where you get on well with the parents. Though I'm far more impressed by general friendliness than what car someone drives!

Overmydeadbody Tue 05-Aug-08 09:13:51

children seek out other children who they have similarities with reallyandtrully. With 6yr olds this will be a bit simpler than 'class', but all I was saying was there was nothing wrong with parents seeking out similar parents in the playgrond. Nothing wrong with that.

I'm sure most parents don't discourage a freindship even if the parents are different, but in reality the friendship will probably fizzle out as the kids get older and notice the differences themselves anyway.

reallyandtruly Tue 05-Aug-08 09:14:35

I agree it's human nature, but where does that leave parents who aren't around much at the school?

As children move up the years at primary, more and more parents go back to work, so are not as easy to get to know and 'judge for suitablilty'

reallyandtruly Tue 05-Aug-08 09:18:18

I disagree overmydeadbody - my older children have maintained friendships with some friends, even though dh and I are not particularly friendly or have much in common with the friend's parents.

ScottishMummy Tue 05-Aug-08 09:22:19

do you say these comments to her face or smile in a duplicitious manner and then bitch? you are very sneaky to a call a "friend" bitter and twisted

Either, she is a friend or she is bitter and twisted?

parents may be machivellian but the children will select who they want to play aspirational pushy types might network with other similar pita does not mena the children will

Litchick Tue 05-Aug-08 09:25:23

We currently have a child here who stopped the night.
His parents are teetotallers, religious and poor. We on the other hand are ...not.
The kids get on like a house on fire but I don't think there's anything 'in it' for either set of parents to pursue this friendship other than some fun.

OrmIrian Tue 05-Aug-08 09:25:28

"Everywhere we gop we seek out and are attracted to other people who we see as similar to us"

Yes. That shouldn't affect your children and it isn't the same as excluding the children of parents that aren't. The car thing was pretty vile wasn't it? I don't discourage friendships with parents who aren't like me. My children would have few friends here if I did! And those who are ostensibly 'like me' tend to let their children have no free time to play anyway - too busy with violin, extra maths, horse-riding, trampolining etc hmm

oops Tue 05-Aug-08 09:28:20

Message withdrawn

Oblomov Tue 05-Aug-08 09:30:01

I don't think I give two hoots. Until little Johnny comes to play at my house. If he is a little terror and I supect has been told no rules, no discipline what-so-ever, I think that would put me off a bit. Does that make me a snob.
If little Freddie, is a sweetie, with a mum who doesn't have two farthings to rub together. Then he can come and play every day.
Is that not how it works, for most.
Oh you can only be friends is his dad is a CEO and mum a Barrister. Oh right.

ScottishMummy Tue 05-Aug-08 09:39:13

RAT do you aspire to the clique too?
for someone who alludes to not being bothered you have noted lotsof details

how thoughtful of you to boast tell us of your much better car. why did you specifically have to describe it like that?

is it to allude to prosperity?
the right car
the right sort
you keep track of the popularity top of the pops
know who has enemies (eg your "friend")
Judge for suitability!!!!What the hell?like you need to vet/select?

you sound like a right ticket

makes me glad i work ft and when my LO is at school i wont get to know the crowd who would judge anyone for suitability

will be too busy collecting LO (on foot)
no car
not even a much better one

LadyMuck Tue 05-Aug-08 09:41:03

Seems to be a slight difference between thread title and OP.

I think that the trend to mainly socialise with "peers" is fairly common, and is subconciously reinforced by all sorts of factors. It is clearly naive to assume that all of a child's friendships are determined by their parents circucmstances - clearly many friendships are fostered at school regardless of these circs. But if we are looking in particular at playdates outsdie of school then yes the parents have more of an influence. Sometimes this is for purely practical reasons rather than snobbish ones eg the mums who don't work and have coffee together after the morning school run are more likely to have loads of playdates amongst their children whereas I also see WOHMs arranging things amongst each other for weekends and holidays (thereby also trying to sort out childcare issues).

We suffered some inverse snobbery as well. Ds2's best friend at preschool came for tea along with his mum. Once she was in our house she realised that she had nannied for some other parents we knew and that was the last playdate we ever managed. Ds2 was rather upset and I found it hard to explain to him really.

oops Tue 05-Aug-08 09:42:11

Message withdrawn

Twiglett Tue 05-Aug-08 09:48:24

I think your friend is right in KS1, I think the further into KS2 they go the more likely it is that the children decide

most of DS' friends tend to be the children of people I took a shine too .. nothing to do with social engineering at all, just people I liked and would invite back so I could socialise too

Oblomov Tue 05-Aug-08 09:52:40

Ds had a lovely little friend at nursery. His mum didn't want to meet or bring her ds round. So I gave up. What can you do. They continued to be bst mates at nursery .

Sorry, what is the Question again ? wink
I have lost/ can't make out what thread title or Op is asking.

Bink Tue 05-Aug-08 09:58:03

This sounds curiously like fishing for a lifestyle column wink (Though I think it would make a more amusing & original piece if it was about actual "networking" - as in parents milking school acquaintanceships for business use.)

overthemill Tue 05-Aug-08 09:58:57

of course it happens but the kids wont be friends with people they hate!

Oblomov Tue 05-Aug-08 10:06:22

I don't know what any other mums do for a living. No one has ever asked me what I do.

overthemill Tue 05-Aug-08 10:11:44

wow. used to to me and it was obv that when i was thrusting young executive people wanted me in their circle and once i got made redundant and switched to part time sahm it all dried up except for 2 or 3 real friends

reallyandtruly Tue 05-Aug-08 10:37:50

I am no journalist! I do not aspire to be in with the 'in crowd' as I am too busy to around much at the school.

Scottishmummy, I feel sorry for my friend, as I know she is having a hard time in her personal life at the moment - I wondered if this bitterness was affecting her view of the school. That's why I thought I'd put her viewpoint on here, but also why I'd question it as I find it hard to comprehend that our school is a hotbed of social networking.

reallyandtruly Tue 05-Aug-08 10:41:54

Overthemill, that's really sad

reallyandtruly Tue 05-Aug-08 10:55:30

In the last few years, our school has more parents with high profile careers or successful businesses.

According to my friend, many of the other parents try to court their friendship (whether the high profile parents want it or not).

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