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Parenting Away from Home

By: Z. Andrew Jatau MS, LPC

Parenting at home offers plenty of challenges for every family. When you’re staying with relatives or traveling; however, it can be doubly hard.

Not only is everyone out of their comfort zone and regular routine, your children are bound to the test limits to gauge your response. All of this happens in front of an audience observing your parenting and giving feedback about your skills and techniques. To top it off, family members may encourage you to let the kids stay up late or give them that piece of candy you know will create havoc when it’s time to settle down for bed. They mean well, but you usually know what’s best for your child in the long run.

Here are four strategies to make parenting away from home less challenging:


Preparing for any situation is helpful and can decrease stress. Think about past experiences and consider what did or didn’t work well. Make adjustments accordingly. Bring items that will make the change of routine easier for your child. For example, a stuffed toy or a night light that is familiar to your child will help set the tone for sleep. Planning ahead also means having discussions with other adults. If there are certain things you’d like family members to do – or not to do – tell them beforehand to prevent conflicts.


Consistency is key with children. Although it might be inconvenient at times, try to stick to their routine as closely as possible. If your child takes a bath, brushes their teeth, and reads two stories before bed, keep the routine in that order. If there’s a spot in your house designated as a calm-down area when your child becomes upset, establish a new one at Grandma’s house. Continue to set the same limits with behavior as you would at home. For example, you can’t hit your sister, or throw your food, or spend all day watching TV.


Usually, when you are parenting away from home, there are events or activities that shake up the routine for your child. Consistency is important, but there are times when flexibility is needed. When meals are served at different times than you’re used to or family events keep your kids up later than usual, it requires flexibility on your part. Talk to your child ahead of time, and do what you can to help them feel comfortable with the changes as well.


At some point during your visit, you may have to consciously ignore comments from others so you can make appropriate parenting decisions. Consider this typical scenario: you ask your child to start cleaning up and get ready for bed and they tell you “no”. Your family members pretend they’re not paying attention, but you see them glancing your way to see what you’re going to do. Your child is smirking because they think they have back up. Your parenting skills are on full display at the moment.

What should you do? Stay focused. During moments like this, you should try to block everything and everyone else out, and follow through with the same positive interventions you would use at home. Worrying what others may say or think can only further complicate the situation and lead you to handle the moment poorly. Be kind and firm. Let your child know you are still in charge and ready to help them cooperate.

For more tips on positive parenting connect with our Dads in Action program. Or, sign up for one of our Parent Academy workshops.

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About Z. Andrew Jatau, LPC

About Z. Andrew  Jatau, LPC

Z. Andrew is a Licensed Professional Counselor and the founder of Mylemarks, an online company that develops social-emotional resources to use with kids and teens. Through that company, he creates content such as digital downloads, workbooks, and children’s books. He’s an adjunct professor in the Human Services department at Old Dominion University, and serves as the Fatherhood Consultant for CHKD’s Dads in Action program. When he’s not working, he enjoys spending time with his family, cooking, and listening to music.