My boyfriend and I have been dating for a year, and several months ago began seeing a parenting coach to discuss general parenting issues as well as working toward blending time with his two young daughters and my son. In my next few blog posts, I’m going to pass along some of the information gleaned from these sessions as they are relevant to most of us who are post-divorce single parents.
In our first session with the counselor, we discussed the need for structure and routines. After divorce, it is extremely common for a parent to feel guilt over the divorce and let rules at home slide. Most of us are familiar with the term “Disney Dad” describing the extreme form of this. Most “Disney Dads” (and Moms!) are not maliciously shirking parenting responsibility but instead are having a difficult time understanding the importance of rules, routines, and discipline in a child’s development and happiness.
Here are a few tips to help you focus on this at home:
- Wanting to have fun with your children is valid and important, but it’s also important to recognize the need for some structure. Enjoy time with your kids and have fun, but make sure there is time built into your evening routine for the children to calm down before bed. This calming down bedtime routine should start at least an hour before bedtime.
- Rushing to get out the door and mornings filled with arguing is a stressful way to start everyone’s day. It’s hard for children to start out the day with this stress, and then be expected to sit down all day and learn. Get the children up early enough to allow time for some push back from the children in getting ready so everyone can still get out the door without stress and chaos.
- Kids need routines and trying to make them fun may help kids stick to a schedule. For example, tell the kids to have a competition and see who can get their teeth brushed and flossed first.
- You can’t control what happens in the other parent’s house. You can only control what happens in your own home, so focus on making your home the best possible environment for the children. This doesn’t mean giving them everything they want, but it means creating a place where they feel safe.
- Communicate regularly with your children. Ask them if they have any requests of the family. Let the children know that you might not necessarily fulfill the request, but you would like to hear what the request would be. Their response can give you important insight into what your child is currently thinking and feeling.
By Jeanette Soltys