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John Kernick

Assuming the child is older than a toddler—and past that ankle-clinging phase—you don’t need to invite the mom in unless it’s the first visit. “Staying for coffee helps provide a level of comfort for everyone there if the kid is feeling shy,” says Anna Post, a coauthor of Emily Post’s Etiquette, 18th edition ($40, amazon.com). Otherwise, if the other parent seems dangerously close to settling in, tell her that “you would love to sit and talk but you’ve got stuff you have to get done around the house while the kids are playing,” says Alkon. You can follow that by saying, “We should find a day when we can catch up.”