Design a social flowchart for each of your children.
Quick, in two minutes, can you name each of your children’s friends and schoolmates, their parents’ names, and each of the activities through which the friendships were forged? If not, you should draw a social flowchart.
A social flowchart is essentially a family tree for friends. It connects your child to each of his friends, and each of his friends to their parents. Along the lines and connectors of the flow chart, you can show how the friendships were established – for example, school friends, camp friends, karate class friends, baseball teammates, and neighborhood friends.
Just preparing the flowchart can be instructive. You may find that your child has many, many friends who you don’t know about, or whose parents you’ve never met. Or, you may find that your child has very few friends, or perhaps just a few undesirable friends. A social flowchart can also highlight the nature of your child’s relationships or patterns of association, such as a young boy who seems to have no friends at school or at camp, or a young girl who only has male friends.
Why is this important in a custody or visitation case? By charting your child’s social relationships, you make yourself much more informed. Loaded with the specific names of friends and their parents, you are empowered on the witness stand, able to speak knowledgeably about who your child befriends, and where his relationships have been built. A judge will clearly see you as the parent “in the know,” and will likely draw conclusions about the depth of your commitment to raising your children in good company.
A social flowchart will also aid you in spotting any patterns that need to be addressed. A child who has no friends at school may be hiding a bigger problem. A child whose friends share the same racial, religious and ethnic background – in a community where diversity is abundant – may need to meet some new people.
Have you ever discovered anything interesting about your child’s friends? Please share.