Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Is it Possible to be a Good Parent Being Divorced?

Divorce is a very tough thing to go through. Unfortunately, there are no clean divorces where no one gets hurt. Rarely do people treat each other in an amicable way and really stop to consider the implications of divorce on the children. Most divorces are contentious and rife with strife. Many divorces get so bad that the couple can only communicate through a monitored software program. My subject here is not divorce per se, but rather what happens to children during and after a divorce. Just try to imagine what goes through a child’s mind when the two most important people in their life decide to separate forever. This is extremely confusing to a child and often causes them to externalize their frustration and turmoil. They may even blame themselves for this anarchy they see unfolding before their very eyes.

What makes it even worse is when divorcing or divorced parents criticize each other to their children. This is cruel and places a child in a bind. These two adults are so lost that they have forgotten they are still parents to some little fragile lives. The adults may recover, but these children will struggle for years to recover from the name calling and denigrating of dad or mom by the other.

If you are in the middle of a divorce or are divorced, try talking to each other and agree to not say anything negative about each other in the presence of your children. What if your ex won’t agree? Then go it alone for the benefit of the children. For example, if a child says, “Daddy says, “It's your fault that we are not together as a family,” don’t try to refute it and say that’s a lie. Try not to add to the child’s confusion. Respond, with “Daddy is trying to do his best, and we all should do the same.” Even if you don’t think he is—it simply is painful and harmful for you to engage in maligning the child’s father or vice-versa.

Divorce is the mistake of two adults, not the children, and they shouldn’t be punished for something that is not their fault. Divorced parents can, however, be good parents and can learn to co-parent with effort. First, they have to take the spotlight off of their hurts and put it on the kids. They can learn to parent with the long view in place. Divorced parents are often permissive because they feel guilty, and so they give in to everything the child wants even if it isn’t good for them.  Parenting with a long view means that you model mature behavior and you make choices that benefit the child in the long haul and not just immediately.

Friday, January 5, 2018

Consistency Is Essential

Consistency is essential in so many aspects of life. Consider the food industry. When you buy a product in the grocery store, you are looking for consistency, not something that is fantastic one time and terrible the next. Whether it is manufacturing or athletes preparing for the next game, consistency is essential for success. Then we should not be surprised that for successful parenting, consistency is absolutely essential.

Consistency needs to start when children are infants with following routines. Routines and schedules are the best friends of parents because children love a routine once it is part of their life. Often parents will implement routines when children are infants.  However, during the toddler stage, it is as if many parents get thrown off their routines because their little child is voicing an opinion. It might be saying no to going to bed or ignoring the commands of the parents. Often a little toddler will insist on getting the attention and constantly interrupt the parent when he or she is trying to talk to another person. In all of these situations and a hundred others, consistency is needed. Just because you are a working parent, don't let the guilt factor kick in. If it is necessary for both parents to work, then don't compensate for your guilt of working by giving in to your child. Your giving in only creates an entitlement attitude that will only get worse as they get older. The single parent also often feels they can’t implement rules or discipline because they are at a disadvantage. These are all fallacies of permissive parenting, and they only hurt the child.

The responsive parent has to stop what they are doing and follow the routine regardless of the child’s protest. It’s better to pick the child up and leave the room if you are with other people. If you do this consistently, you will win. If, however, you do it sometimes and other times you don’t, you have lost the battle.

Name any area of the child’s development—learning to eat properly, developing different tastes, potty training, learning to pick up toys or take care of them, learning to respect other people, and learning to share.  Consistency is the key. Follow the same routine, and if you hit a snag, don’t give in or give up. With every goal you meet, your child will be better prepared for future steps of development. Most importantly, you will be a responsive parent instead of fighting the reactive battle over all these little issues. Sometimes it seems like it’s harder to fight the battle and win with your child, but in reality, this is the easiest way. The permissive parenting style beguiles parents to believe that way is easier, when in fact it’s impossible.