"Nicholeen, can my child have too much friend time? I have noticed that he begs for it all the time, but doesn't really want to play with his brothers and sisters that much. What should I do?"
As many of you know, in my Audio seminar and book, Parenting A House United, I talk about how children usually tell you exactly what they don't need by asking for it all the time.
Just like if my child keeps begging me for junk food, I know he needs healthy food, if my child begs for friends all the time I know he needs more family time.
Good friends are a blessing, but too much time with friends, even good ones, can distract anyone from their role in the family and the need to nurture family relationships.
So, if my child is begging for friend time every day I know he needs some days off.
I acutally have a formula for this. I don't think anyone should play with friends more than one day a week. So, my children don't play with friends more than 12 – 16 hours each week. The rest of the time is for family, learning, service, and purpose. A normal week might look like this:
Sunday: See friends some at church, but mostly God's day to be spent with family and in religious services. (Friend time one hour)
Monday: School time and personal exploration time. Family activity night. (Not a friend day usually)
Tuesday: School time, friends from 3:00 – 6:00 (friend time three hours)
Wednesday: School time, music lessons, friends from 3:00 – 6:00 (friend time three hours)
Thursday: School time, Club time with friends 1:00 – 5:00 (friend time four hours)
Friday: School time, Family Field Trip Friday
Saturday: Family work time, Play time with friends 2:00 – 6:00 (friend time four hours)
Total friend time for the week: 15 hours
In our family school time is with family. So, if your child is away at school in the day, you may want to make the friend time less to accomodate more family time.
In order for your child to keep a quality relationship with siblings and parents, as well as work toward your family's vision, he needs to spend a lot of time with you.
The person your child spends the most time with will be the person he becomes the closest to and the most like.
I know it is hard to make a change like decreasing friend time, but as you do you will find your family culture improving. There are only so many hours in a day. Decide how many will be for your family and how many will be for friends. Family really must come first.