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How old do you think a child should be to go away for a week with a friend and his family? Are there any guidelines to take into consideration to decide if your child is ready for this?


Beverly Willett Replied: I don't think there are any hard and fast rules in this situation -- a lot depends on your child and your child's friend and family. The bottom line is you need to ask some crucial questions first and, depending on the answers, gauge what your intuition tells you. Relevant questions include: Has your child been away from home before, for how long, how many times, with whom and were there any problems? Does your child regularly go to friends' homes for overnights and, if so, does he/she get homesick or otherwise misbehave? Has your child been away or slept overnight at this particular friend's house before? How well do you know the friend and family and how comfortable are you with their supervision and ability to act responsibly in an emergency? What grade is your child in and how well does your child deal with new things and making adjustments -- meeting new people, separating, adjusting to new locales? Does your child have any health issues and, if so, are you comfortable that where he or she will have access to medical attention if necessary? Have you spoken with your child and what does he/she have to say? How self-sufficient and mature is your child? As a general guidepost,I'd say the further away the trip, the older your child should probably be. I know this may seem like a lot to digest, but don't let fear get the better of you just because you can't possibly predict that everything will go smoothly if you say "yes." As parents, the most we can do is our best and go with our gut once we've asked and answered all the right questions. Best of luck.
Posted On 2009-09-22 13:06:05
Luisa Frey Replied: This is a very personal question that only you as a parent can decide. I recall as a child, that we LOVED the fact that our parents allowed one of our cousins to come every year on our annual beach vacation with us. I bet my parents liked it too because everyone tends to be on better behavior when there's a "guest" around! Here are some guidelines to keep in mind when making your decision: IF YOUR CHILD HAS BEEN INVITED TO TRAVEL WITH SOMEONE ELSE, ASK YOURSELF: * Is my child self-sufficient when it comes to personal hygeniene? * Is my child a good sleeper and adaptable to new beds, etc.? * How independent is my child in regards to speaking up if he needs help with something? * Is my child used to doing day trips with other families where I'm not with him? * Will you worry the whole time he's away? * If flying is involved, has your child flown before? I do NOT suggest sending your child on his first flight without you! IF YOU'RE CONSIDERING INVITING YOUR CHILD'S FRIEND TO ACCOMPANY YOUR FAMILY ON A TRIP, ASK YOURSELF: * Can you handle having another person around to care for? * Do you feel comfortable being responsible for another child in regards to safety and health issues? * Has this child ever slept overnight at your house? I recommend this to make sure the guest and your child can get to sleep easily in the same bedroom * Do you enjoy this child's company? Travel is a great hands-on learning experience so I recommend fully exploring the points above next time your child is invited on a multi-day trip with another family. We took my daughter's friend with us on a four-day cruise the summer between the girls' fourth and fifth grades. We all had a great time and have taken my guests since. My son is starting third grade and he's eagerly awaiting his turn to bring a guest on our many family trips! Happy trails, Luisa Frey Teen Travel Whisperer
Posted On 2009-09-22 10:51:57
Naomi Drew Replied: Do you know the family well? How far are they going and how much does your child want to go with them? There's no formal age determination when it comes to letting a child go away, but it's very important that you know and trust the family who invited him. If the distance isn't too far and the child really wants to go, that's one thing. But if there's hesitation on the child's part, or if you're not sure the whole thing's going to work out, don't do it. You don't want to be called in the middle of a trip by a crying child who's decided he wants to leave, and you're 100 miles away. Short overnights are a good way to get a child's feet wet. Or, short trips that aren't far away with trusted people you know and love.
Posted On 2009-09-22 09:53:19
Brenda Nixon, M.A. Replied: It may sound trite but, your answer depends on the individual child. Some kids as young as 7 years can separate from the parent and be trusted to go away with a friend and his parents. Other kids need more time to confidently cope with separation or be allowed this privilege of going away with another family. As for guidelines; I suggest you observe your child's reponse to short-term separation and to responsibilities in the home. Some questions to ask include: How independent is my child? Does my child obey other adults like the teacher, neighbors, or grandparents? Does my child know who to call in emergency? Can my child recite his address, city, state, name of parents, and phone number? Above all, discuss the week's activities with the friend's parents. Trust your gut; if you feel comfortable with these other parents and feel your child would be well supervised and parented in a similar manner, then you'll have more information to make an informed decision. Best wishes, Brenda Nixon, M.A.
Posted On 2009-09-20 20:40:44
Pamela Waterman Replied: I'd consider a number of things. Is your child completely comfortable with being at that family's house for a regular overnight? Does he/she like the other children (if there are any), the food they prepare, the night-light on or off, the hours they keep? Do you trust the parents at a gut-level: is their driving-style safe? do they let their children do things you wouldn't allow? do you have a sense of what type of movies they let their child watch? If you don't know these answers, I'd bring them up in a non-threatening way and decide from there. I don't know if you're talking about a 6-year-old or 14-year-old, but common sense is the best guide for any age. I know there were families where my child played with their child for a few hours at their house, but I would never allow a trip because of what I observed (people who would go back into the house while the children were swimming, for example - I learned to always stay at pool parties because of that). In fact, will there be a pool? or the ocean? How well does your child swim? We let our 10-year-old go off with her aunt and uncle, but told them "She thinks she can swim but she can't" and so they knew to really watch out. Does your child have any medical issues of which the other parents need to be aware, and would they be willing to deal with that? Regardless, do send along the name, policy number and phone number of your health insurance provider, just in case. It can be hard letting go, but if all the signals "feel" good, then it should be fine.
Posted On 2009-09-20 17:25:30
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