Raising Children within a Broken Set of Circumstances

When children are being shuffled between divorced parents, they often spend time in two different households. When each family has its own set of rules for the children, it can end up in problems for both the parents and the children. It is best to handle such situations with an easy hand.

The following suggestions can be fruitful for divorced parents as they try and develop a consistent parenting approach for their kids:

Talk to your ex-husband or wife and make sure you both are on the same page regarding basic rules and how they are enforced (e.g., same bedtimes, chore responsibilities, amount of TV and video game time allowed, etc.). Discuss each issue calmly and conclude the discussion with positive approaches for your children.

If your child wants to do something that requires a decision from both you and your ex (staying overnight at the home of friend neither parent knows very well), make sure he or she understands that Mom and Dad have to talk about it and come to a decision together. Children need to understand that splitting up won’t affect their relation holistically on everything.

Don’t let your child manipulate or play you and your ex against each other. For example, if you’ve given your child a “No” answer to a request made while he or she is living with you, and the child calls your ex hoping to elicit a “Yes,” explain that it’s not okay to do that and that your response stands. This might only happen when your child wants to do something u might not consider. Therefore, you and your ex need to be on a unanimous stance.

Along similar lines, it is important to note that many parents don’t know what to do when a child starts seeing one parent as the “good guy” and the other parent as the “bad guy”. When such a situation arises consider the following suggestions:

When the kids come back from staying with your ex, take a moment before they run off to help them get re-acclimated to your home. Remind them that they’re no longer at the other parent’s house, and that what you say goes. IT might be hard for them, but eventually they will adapt to it.

Explain to your kids that how they act and behave at one parent’s house will be different from how they act and behave at the others. Tell them that while both households may have similar expectations and rules (see the earlier tip about being on the same page), they should obey whichever parent they are staying with.

In the end, the better you and your ex can communicate about and establish basic rules in both your homes, the easier it will be for you to parent and for your kids to do what you want. Most importantly, you must remember that regardless of what broke up your marriage, you both will always be united in your love of your children and that they always come first in your lives.

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