This post, written by Lianne Avila, was originally featured on YourTango.
You wonder if you did the right thing.
Let's face it, raising and helping your kids through divorce isn't easy. You constantly worry about how to be a good parent and how your breakup will affect them, so you often wonder if you did the right thing. And coparenting is not a walk in the park.
Children of divorce may experience a broken heart due to their parents' breakup. Try to remain positive, and remember that with the right parenting tips and advice, you can still be an amazing parent after a divorce.
The divorce rate is nearly 50 percent. This means, you aren't alone, and you aren't ruining your kids' lives. As a matter of fact, studies show kids growing up in a high conflict home are actually more unhappy than kids of divorce.
If you strive to put your kids first, then you can actually learn to be a better parent. It's not always going to be easy, especially in the beginning. The good news is you can work through it.
Here are 21 tips that can help you be an amazing parent after a divorce:
- Be honest with your kids: Make sure it is appropriate for their age. Lies will catch up and make things worse, in the long run.
- Don't bad-mouth the other parent: It's important to model good behavior for your children by getting along with your ex.
- Never use your kids as a weapon: Don't ask your children to spy on your ex and report back their every move. This will make your child feel uncomfortable and like they are betraying the other parent.
- Don't give your kids the guilt trip: Let them make their own decisions. You may not like that your child wants to go on vacation with the other parent. But when you are divorced, this is the reality of the situation.
- Be consistent with everything you do: The kids are living in two different households. Make sure they have a routine that is consistent. That way they will know what to expect.
- Communicate with your ex: I know this may sound impossible, but it's one of the best things you can do. Let your ex know when you are going on vacation. If the school calls, make sure to let your ex know. That way the kids won't be able to pull one over on you.
- Encourage your kids to talk about their feelings: Let them have space to talk about how they are feeling without judgment.
- Love your kids: And, stop hating your ex. This will eventually bring you down.
- Acknowledge their feelings for wanting their parents to get back together: But make sure you are realistic. You don't want to give them false hope.
- Don't talk to your child about how you feel about your ex: This is something you save for your close friends or a professional.
- Don't let your kids "get away with murder": I know you feel bad about the divorce, and you are worried about how it will affect your kids. You still have to discipline them. Don't let them get away with anything they wouldn't get away with if you were still married.
- Tell your kids that the divorce is not their fault: And make sure they understand that.
- Your kids are not messengers: I know your ex may be difficult, but this doesn't mean that you make your kids the messenger. This will cause unnecessary stress in your child's life.
- Control your temper: I know you have angry feelings about divorce. You never thought this would happen, but it did. You need to accept what is.
- Share the chores: If your kid vacuums at your house, don't make them vacuum again at your ex's house. This requires clear communication. Your child shouldn't have to suffer and have double the work.
- Let your kids be kids: Don't involve them in adult problems, or force them to make decisions they aren't equipped to make.
- Maintain your kids' community of support: Just because your child lives in two households doesn't mean they should have two sets of friends.
- Communicate with the in-laws: Maybe you didn't get along with them, but your kids love them. Make sure they still get to visit the grandparents.
- If possible, spend time together, like you did when you were married: Go out to dinner once in a while or spend time together lounging at the pool.
- Take care of yourself: Don't neglect yourself because you are divorced. This means keeping up with medical and dental appointments. Get your hair done, go to the spa, or take a bubble bath.
- Stay hopeful: I know you may be feeling burned. This is actually a natural response to a divorce. Learn what you can and where you went wrong. Don't give up on yourself. There will be somebody else when you are ready.
You may feel like the world is ending, but you will get through the storm. Many children from divorce grow up to be very responsible. They have learned how to live in two households and how to compromise.
Lianne Avila is a Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist, in San Mateo, CA. She has helped many people create a work, life balance for themselves. For more information, please visit Lessons for Love.
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