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Child sleepovers at Dad's house benefit all when parents live apart

Feb. 13, 2017—When little ones live with mom after a divorce, they often spend some nights at Dad's home too. A new study finds that's good for the kids. And it's good for the dads and moms too.

According to the researchers, overnight visits may lead to better relationship with both parents when babies and toddlers grow up.

Building better bonds

The researchers talked to young adults whose parents had separated years ago. They also asked the parents about their relationships with their grown kids.

Among the findings:

  • Not all of the young adults had overnight visits with their dad when they were tots. Those who did enjoyed better relationships with both parents when they were 18 to 20 years old.
  • The benefits of overnight parenting were the same whether the courts had ordered it or the parents had agreed on their own.

Overnight stays may help dads learn better parenting skills, one of the researchers said. Why? One reason is that the dads must play a bigger role when they care for a tot through the evening to the next morning. And the quality time may help build a strong relationship well into the future, the researcher noted.

For moms, shared overnight parenting may help ease some of the stress of parenting a tot alone.

The findings appear online in the journal Psychology, Public Policy and Law.

Putting kids first

Children often do better when both parents stay involved in their young lives, notes the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). That's not always easy when Mom and Dad live apart. And in some cases it may mean setting aside differences. But it's best for kids as long as both parents are safe and good caregivers.

According to the AAP, when fathers stay involved, kids may have:

  • Better emotional health.
  • Fewer behavior problems.
  • Better school grades.

Talk to your child's doctor if you have questions about how to help your child through a difficult time, such as a divorce.

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