Having just spent some time looking at the different ways that divorced parents can work together to build positive co-parenting communication methods, we would like to look at some of the parenting issues that divorced moms and dads often face.
Before we start, however, we would like to point out that all parents wrestle with how to raise their children. Kids don’t come with a manual. We all do the best we can with what we have based on our beliefs, our own upbringing, and our understanding of what is right. Most married parents struggle with finding common ground when it comes to the issue of how to raise their children, so don’t feel like a failure when you and your ex can’t come to terms on certain issues. ALL parents struggle with this, married or not. You are not the only one!
Parenting is hard. Deciding which regulations to enforce and which to let slide, which form of discipline to implement, and even which values are important can be challenging. This is often even more of a struggle for divorced parents, who sometimes can’t see eye-to-eye with their ex on anything, let alone how best to raise the kids. So with that in mind, here is the first one on our list of important things to remember: Being consistent.
“But dad lets us stay up late!”
Your kids are going to figure out pretty quickly that you and your ex are not on the same page, and they will likely 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 is not uncommon.
Instead of getting angry next time your son or daughter points out that your parenting methods or rules are less pleasant than your ex’s, take a deep breath and bite down any snarky remarks you might want to make. Instead, point out 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.
A statement like, “Your dad may allow that, but in this house we do things differently” can be much more effective. Another example is, “Your mom might say that’s okay, and she is allowed to make that decision in her house, but this is my house and I make the decisions here.” These are a clear cut ways of reaffirming that you make different parenting choices than your ex does. Eventually, if you are consistent, your kids will learn that you and your ex parent in dissimilar ways, and they will adapt to the different rules of your respective homes.
It is also worth remembering that kids are not always honest. Your children may be claiming that they are allowed to do something at their other parent’s house in the hopes that you will 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 are true.
Join us next time when we will be looking at the next item on the agenda, namely the importance of working to find a middle ground.