One of the greatest struggles that divorced people with kids face, is the issue of conflicting parenting styles. You don’t let the kids eat candy during the week, but your ex offers dessert every night. You limit screen time to one hour per day for the younger kids, but your ex offers unlimited TV and tablet time. It can be a real challenge!
Don’t let guilt or comparisons tell you how to parent!
Especially when your kids voice their opinions of the stricter parent’s choices! Your children will figure out pretty quickly that you and your ex aren’t on the same page, and they’ll probably try to use it to their advantage. Kids sometimes manipulate situations to their advantage, and try to guilt one parent into letting them do something that the other parent allows. It isn’t fun, as the parent on the receiving end of the guilt trip, but it isn’t uncommon.
How do you handle your kid’s complaints about differing rules?
So next time your son or daughter points out that you’re the boring parent, or that they never have any fun at your house, here’s how to respond:
- Take a deep breath (don’t get angry!)
- Explain that your ex doesn’t live in your house, and the choices that they make don’t have any influence over how you choose to parent your children.
- Tell them that you love them very much, and that the parenting decisions you make are a reflection of your love, and your desire to keep them safe.
- Let them know that there will be times when the rules are flexible, and times when they aren’t. You will be willing to discuss options when the time is right, but complaining and manipulations aren’t going to change anything.
Don’t trash your ex’s parenting style, even if you disagree with it!
You may think your ex is a lazy parent (and you may be right!) But don’t say those kinds of things to your kids. When your kids point out how you don’t compare favorably with your ex when it comes to permissions and treats, be careful how you word your responses.
A statement like, “Your dad may allow that, but in this house we do things differently” or “Your mom might say that’s okay, and she’s allowed to make that decision in her house. But this is my house and I make the decisions here.” Trash talking your ex will only make things more difficult between you, and could backfire by making your kids choose your ex over you.
Kids can be sneaky to get what they want!
It’s also worth remembering that kids are not always honest. Your children may be telling you they’re allowed to stay as long as they want, or eat candy for breakfast at their other parent’s home. However, there’s always the chance that they’re saying that in the hopes that you’ll want to avoid being the “less liked parent,” and let them do what they want. Stick to your guns if the lesson is important to you, and don’t be influenced by claims of comparative freedoms, whether or not they’re true.
Eventually consistency will pay off in the end!
Despite their claims to the contrary, kids need structure. They need to know where they stand, and what’s expected of them. So if you create the rules you believe will best protect and help them, and them stay consistent in how you enforce them, your kids will be better off for it!
Parenting after a divorce is hard, which is why it’s so important to ensure that issues like custody, child support and parenting time are properly handled during the divorce proceedings. So if you or a loved one are considering divorce, get help from The Kronzek Firm at 866 766 5245. Our skilled family law attorneys have decades of experience helping people with their divorces. We can help you too.