Divorced parents in Michigan, as elsewhere, have obligations to their children, and that includes instilling discipline and cultivating values for growing up. But bickering still characterizes most co-parents, as the same differences that led to their divorce also come to blows in co-parenting. Rare are those who see eye-to-eye, especially when it comes to the values they want their children to learn. You and the other parent may agree on upholding your child’s interests, but the way you uphold those interests would be a different matter. But with the following best practices in child-rearing, you and the other parent can have a place to start sorting your conflicting discipline methods.
Don’t fall into the ‘favorite parent’ trap
As a recently-divorced parent, it is understandable that you would want to find allies, whether it be friends, relatives, or your children. Yet for their sake, don’t spoil your child and turn a blind eye to their misdemeanors just so you could make them pick you as their ‘favorite.’ As a parent, you must shape your child into a responsible person. Limit the desserts, TV, and gadgets before bedtime, even if the other parent seems to be too lax. Make them do their homework instead of doing their homework for them. Whatever happens, resist the urge to let your children do what they want. As they mature, they will understand why you are doing these things, and they’ll appreciate you for doing the right thing even if the other ‘favorite’ does not.
Be upfront with your child concerning their behavior
Sweeping your children’s misbehavior under the rug would do nothing to correct that misbehavior. Learning to accept mistakes and atoning for them is a life skill that all children have the right and are required to have. Tolerating misconduct such as bullying can have worse consequences for your child in the future. They have to learn what is right, and it is your job to be open and upfront about their behavior. In the process, you get to the root of the problem of their misbehavior and have it addressed as soon as possible.
Let your child learn self-discipline, without saying anything about the other parent
If you see something wrong in the way the other parent implements the rules, explain to your child the right rules without talking negatively about the other parent. While it is natural to feel angry with their neglect, you have to make it a point to make your child learn how to discipline themselves instead of imparting hatred towards the other parent. When the other parent willfully or neglectfully lets your child do something they shouldn’t, such as splurging their allowance on something they don’t need, you must focus your reprimand on why wasting money is wrong. If they tell you that the other parent lets them do whatever they want, make them ponder upon the consequences of these actions so that they will understand for themselves the importance of self-discipline. And you can do it without even mentioning the name of the other parent at all.
Chances are your child would manipulate you in that they would claim that the other parent allowed them to do the things they did. Calmly but sternly tell them that you will talk to the other parent about the issue. If they are guilty of exaggerating their claims in the hope of getting concessions from you, they will no longer talk about the lie they told you.
While you know that the divorce was necessary, you shouldn’t think that your child is a victim or is an emotionless doll. Some divorced parents feel pity over their children that they indulge their children in lavishness and laxity, resulting in self-aggrandizing individuals. But the loosening of discipline would do more damage to your children in the long. What you should do is to acknowledge that your child has misgivings over the divorce, while at the same time, tell them that their parents’ divorce is not a good excuse for bad behavior. Emphasize the need to rectify their poor behavior, atone for it, and face the consequences with full accountability. You may even try to consult a psychologist to help them cope with the shock of separation.