Dear Amy: What should I do about parents who suggest an outing, then bow out at the last minute, leaving my husband and me with their kids? This has happened to us twice recently, once at the movies. This child was sent without any money, and we treated him.
Another time the parents offered to purchase tickets to a theme park for us (we would reimburse them) and then told us that only their child would be able to attend!
We stopped being leaders in Boy Scouts for this very reason: parents who treated us not like friends or volunteers, but like employees.
Dear Annoyed: Parents who work with children as Scout leaders or other volunteer teachers sometimes find that other parents don't understand or respect their roles and instead treat them as drop-off baby-sitting services. And yet these adults continue to volunteer because they realize they're in a great position to serve and mentor children, regardless of how the parents behave.
Every parent gets burned occasionally, but if you and your husband are experiencing this repeatedly, maybe you aren't adequately communicating your own expectations and boundaries.
If you and your child are invited on an outing, you should clarify to the parents what the expectation is before accepting. You say, "I just want to make sure - you and/or your husband will also be participating? If so, we'd love to."
If you, your husband and child are standing in line at the movie theater to join another family and the parent sees this as a last minute "drop-off" and you don't want to have their child join your family, you'll just have to muster the strength to say, "I'm so sorry you can't stay. We'll invite Benji along to join us another time, but we're just going to stick with our family tonight."