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Should you let your kids invite friends on vacation?

Making It Work: Rules for Kids' Friends on Vacation
Let everyone know the rules ahead of time.
Let everyone know the rules ahead of time.
Christopher Robbins/Valueline/Thinkstock

Here's the second rule, and it could make or break your vacation: Present your behavioral expectations and consequences to all children and parents before the trip. Make sure that everyone knows and agrees upon any rules. You're already familiar with each other, but vacations generate novel conditions. You can't anticipate every situation, but consider common matters of safety and respect. For example:

  • Curfews
  • Free time, away from parents
  • Strict oversight or tolerance of exploration
  • Behavioral expectations (chores, manners, kindness)
  • Procedures ensuring privacy
  • Consequences for breaking rules
  • Inherent risks (Will there be white-water rafting?)

Let your knowledge of the friend's behavior be a guide during your discussion. For instance, my niece is, obviously, wonderful, but she seems physically attached to her cell phone and texts nonstop. Since this was a family vacation, I set a rule: Text at the hotel. Period. When we were out and about, the phone was decommissioned (except for important calls from her parents). While this cold turkey approach must have been painful, my niece was a real trooper and respected the rules.

This type of discussion should not be one-way. It's the kids' vacation, too. Make sure kids have input on selecting activities, changing activities and getting some alone time.