Going from one parents home to the others

• Help your child learn to adapt. What is acceptable in your home may not be OK in the other parent's household. For example, you may not have a problem with your child having snacks in the living room or wearing shoes inside the house, while your ex or his new wife may expect visitors to take their shoes off and eat only in the dining room. Explain that you expect your child to follow the house rules wherever he is.

• Be prepared for re-entry. When your child comes home after a weekend of staying up late watching horror films, eating sugary foods, and skipping baths, help her gently return to your more structured way of doing things by having a "re-entry" routine. A warm bath, a favorite healthy snack, or a tumble with the dog can help make your child's transition back to your home go more smoothly.

• Learn damage-control skills. If your child returns home after a visit with the other parent with whom you are embroiled in conflict, find ways to diffuse any tension. For instance, if your son says, "Dad thinks you're mean to not let me stay up all night," or, "Mom says her new boyfriend is real quiet because all you did was yell and complain," you can respond with, "I'm sorry your father (or mother) feels that way, but this is something he should talk with me about," or, "I'm glad you had fun staying up all night, but you know that we have different house rules here."

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