July 2006 - Friends and Parenting
Friendships are an important part of life for kids, but
making time for friends can become complicated when your child has divorced
parents. Striking a balance between family and friends is difficult but possible.
Let your child know that you respect his or her friendships. Welcome friends
into your home, within reason. Children need to spend time with friends out
of school and if you stand in the way, youíll face a lot of resentment which
likely get worse as your child gets older. Talk about friends with your child
and make it clear that seeing them is something you want your child to do. View
friends as a wonderful part of your childís life, and not as something that
takes time away from you.
If you and your ex alternate weekends, it can be hard to give up a whole afternoon
to a play date Ė whether at your home or at the friendís home. But it is possible
to have quality time with your child while allowing him play dates. Make it
a rule that play dates are fine, say, on Saturdays from noon to four, or any
other day and time that is convenient for you. Also make it clear that there
must be time during the weekend for family and that while a sleepover once in
a while is fine, every weekend is a bit much.
Discuss Plans with Your Ex
You and your ex should talk about how important it is to your child to see friends.
Your child may want to invite friends over for play dates or sleepovers at the
non-custodial parentís house. Kids like to have their friends see both of their
homes and parents. Again, the non-custodial parent should set boundaries and
schedule things so that there is adequate family time, but also room for friends.
Prepare for Occasions
Expect that your child will be invited to birthday parties and other events,
and that these may not fit easily into your parenting plan. Youíll need to weigh
each invitation and talk to your child about them. Most of the time, kids will
want to go, but sometimes they donít, so itís always best to ask. Try to make
it possible for your child to attend parties he is interested in. Your child
is sure to miserable if she is the only one in the class who couldnít go to
the pool party. You and your ex may want to have an arrangement that whichever
parent is scheduled for the time of a party is the one to decide if the child
is going and to provide transportation.