The Playdate

Parents, Children, and the New Expectations of Play

192 pages

10 figures and 1 table

March, 2016

ISBN: 9781479866298



Also available in


Tamara R. Mose is Associate Professor of Sociology at Brooklyn College, City University of New York. She is the author of Raising Brooklyn: Nannies, Childcare, and Caribbeans Creating Community.

All books by Tamara R. Mose

A playdate is an organized meeting where parents come together with their children at a public or private location to interact socially or “play.” Children no longer simply “go out and play,” rather, play is arranged, scheduled, and parentally-approved and supervised. How do these playdates happen? Who gets asked and who doesn’t?  What is acceptable play behavior? In The Playdate, Tamara R. Mose focuses on the parents of young children in New York City to explore how the shift from spontaneous and child-directed play to managed and adult-arranged playdates reveals the structures of modern parenting and the new realities of childhood. Mose argues that with the rise of moral panics surrounding child abuse, pedophilia, and fears about safety in the city, as well as helicopter parenting, and over-scheduling, the playdate has emerged as not just a necessity in terms of security and scheduling, but as the very hallmark of good parenting.

Based on interviews with parents, teachers, childcare directors, and nannies from Brooklyn, Manhattan, Queens, and Long Island, the book provides a first-hand account of the strategies used by middle-class parents of young children to navigate social relationships—their own and those of their children.  Mose shows how parents use playdates to improve their own experiences of raising children in New York City while at the same time carefully managing and ensuring their own social and cultural capital. Mose illustrates how the organization of playdates influences parents’ work lives, friendships, and public childrearing performances, and demonstrates how this may potentially influence the social development of both children and parents. Ultimately, this captivating and well-researched book shows that the playdate is much more than just “child’s play.”


  • "A sociology professor at Brooklyn College, Ms. Mose examines the ritual of the playdate as if she were descending upon some strange tribe on a remote island. But she seems to belong to part of the world she discusses."

    Wall Street Journal

  • “Sociologist Mose explores an emerging pattern of child-rearing within the context of declining use of public space, social class and the challenges busy urban families face building a sense of community.”

    Choice Connect

  • "While carefully describing the social norms of playdates and birthday parties, and how these norms differ by social class, Mose also writes with a critical eye and welcome sense of humor."

    American Journal of Sociology

  • “This is an important book. Tamara Mose shines a piercing light on what we are doing for—and to—our children, and she effectively situates her analysis within the broader social contexts of race, gender, and class.”

    —Howard P. Chudacoff, author of Children at Play: An American History

  • "The Playdate is a very engaging book . . . this work has deep implications for how we understand the reproduction of class inequality in American life."

    —Emily W. Kane, author of The Gender Trap