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July 2006 - Friends and Parenting Time

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.

Welcome Friends
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.

Set Priorities
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.





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