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What about the kids? Tips for divorced parents

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Children are too commonly the innocent casualties of divorces gone wrong. While it’s rarely an ideal situation for a kid when their parents split up, there are things you can do as a mother or father to lessen the blow. Here are some tips on parenting and divorce. While you can’t have complete control over the effects that a divorce will have on your daughter(s) or son(s), you can take steps to help them make sense of it and cope with it effectively.

1)      Keep up a united front

Children in broken homes struggle the most with the visible division between their parents. A married couple naturally presents a united front; even when they fight, they are forced to reconcile and parent their children in the same way. In other words, rules are rules. However, when a child must shuffle from dad’s house to mom’s house, the rules change. Try to maintain the same rules in each household if possible. The parental unity might actually be more important than the rules themselves! The younger the child, the less adept they are to handle contrasting views of how they should behave. For example, if mom always make the kids eat at the table for dinner and dad doesn’t care, the kids will consequently feel confused and lose some understanding of right or wrong. From an adult’s perspective, it’s not a big deal, but for a young mind, this can be a terribly disorienting time!

2)      Discipline is okay

When one parent has less custody than the other, which is typical for the father, the dynamics in that parent’s household are a little strange. The father may feel so deprived of time with their child and even guilty about it, that they shower their child with praise and toys and have little concern for rules and chores and homework. But this is not necessarily the best approach to parenting! It will really just send mixed signals to the child. Mothers, too, often have trouble disciplining their children as they don’t have the support system they once had. A parental support group comes in handy in these cases.

3)      “Deadbeat” dads aren’t necessarily uncaring

 It’s easy to villanize the father who moves miles away after a divorce, but the truth is it might be too emotionally painful to stay. Many fathers are so hurt that they can’t spend more time with their children, that they simply can’t handle it. If mothers understand this, ties can be strengthened and the “deadbeat” dad trend may just be tapered.

4)      Be sensitive to the changes

Your child didn’t ask for the dramatic lifestyle changes that come with divorce: a move, split custody, a typically lower standard of living, etc. Whenever you can lessen the impact of the changes, do it! Not everything is in your hands, but just as with #1, you can overcome some of the initial obstacles by cooperating with your former spouse to make the divorce as painless as possible.

5)      Remarriage is okay

Studies have shown that remarriage sometimes does the best job at healing the deep wounds of divorce – but only when it is approached with the right intentions. Otherwise it will just end in a another devastating divorce. Don’t remarry with the expectation that your new family situation will be perfect and you can right past wrongs. Instead, remarry with the expectation that you will willingly deal with problems and lulls as they come up. This is the best way to ensure you keep that knot tied for a long time.

Many children of divorce grow up to be successful, empowered adults, but it’s not uncommon for them to still struggle with emotional issues that aren’t necessarily visible from an outside perspective. The key is to help your kid use the experience of divorce to grow, instead of back tack. It is possible; it just takes guidance and effort to learn how to parent in such a unique environment

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