Overnights for Young Children of Divorce

It is generally thought best that overnights for young children be carefully considered by divorcing parents before they are initiated. Key to the success of such overnights are good communication skills and each parent’s ability to put aside their own desires for the benefit of their young children. Above all, the child should not be witness to parental conflict and blame toward the other parent. While children are resilient and can bounce back from difficult divorces with the proper help and guidance, this is not true where the parents openly exhibit hostility toward each other. Seeking to alienate the children from the other parent can lead to lasting emotional and psychological damage that may lead to depression, drug use and other mal-adaptive behaviors on the part of children.

Divorcing parents of young children who are contemplating a parent plan that includes overnights for each parent will serve their children best if there is consistency between the two households. This consistency may include similar routines like bedtime and meals, similar limits and expectations for the children and the use of the same caregiver.

There is no one plan or one way or one guideline that fits all overnight situations for young children. Parents will do well to listen to their own higher instincts and put themselves aside as best they can, so their focus can be on what their particular child needs – and then plan around that focus.