This article focusses on parenting advice for divorced parents. Although there are many parenting tips and do's and don'ts, we present you with a few important issues that are often overlooked. If you care about your children and if you want to have a new and bright future for them and for yourself, please take note.
The first parenting advice tip is to build a new relationship with your ex spouse. Your children are the binding factor between you and your ex partner. Maybe you are done with your ex, but your children deserve to have 2 loving parents. Together you should continue the job to raise your children.
Your children will be the sole subject of the relationship. Let go the past. It will stand in your way. Trying to hold on to it and to build the new relationship on the things you had together in the past will bring up the negative feelings, arguments, blaming and even the fighting.
When you focus on your children in the new relationship, your children will realise that they are on the top of your agendas. They will appreciate it and they will learn from it.
Restricting the subject of your new relationship with your ex to the children, makes it much easier for both of you to maintain the relationship. Talking about other subjects and especially memories from your time when you were together is out of bounds.
It is important for your children that their parents behave in an adult way. You hurt your children when you fight with your ex spouse and when you talk in a negative way about their other parents. You should also communicate directly to your ex partner and not through your children. Do not use your children for spying. If you think differently, you can ask your children what they think of your fighting, blaming and trying to use them to communicate to your ex. Many children of divorce detest this kind of behavior from their parents.
Take this parenting advice and start building your new relationship now.
The second parenting advice is to foster a parenting plan. Once there is a parenting plan, it means you and your ex partner have given many thoughts about it and that you have had many discussions. What if scenario's have been evaluated. You will be much better prepared to raise your children. Do not let your ex spouse walk away from it. Both of you need to agree on the parenting plan before it is presented to the judge.
The document itself is not the most important. The planning process that you both go through is what counts the most. If you find it difficult to discuss the parenting plan with you ex partner alone, you could involve a good mutual friend or a mediator.
The parenting plan should not be put away once the judge has formalized your divorce. You should keep it at haert. You should evaluate it regularly. Depending on the changes in your life, the life of your children and the life of your ex partner.
You can find much more parenting advice on the parenting plan section in this web site.
The third parenting advice is bring to bring structure in the family life. Have dinner at a fixed time, like at 6, your children should do homework from 7 to 8. A structure gives purpose to the family life. The children find a safe environment to experiment, to play and to grow within this daily routine. Here they experience the natural consequences of their own choices (see more below on environment). They can do this in the safety of the structure.
For a healthy social and emotional development children must be challenged to explore. An easy way to do so is to take them to many different places: the park, a forest, a lake, sailing, horse back riding, a soccer game, a music festival, a library, a market, an historical place and a museum.
Keep them away from the television, because watching tv is passive.
For additional parenting advice, please read the article about social and emotional development.
Your children sleep, eat, play, learn, experiment and feel their emotions in their environment. They interact with friends and other people they meet in their environment. You can imagine how much the environment and the people interact with shape their reality and impacts feelings, determines how and what they play and experiment and how and what they learn.
You being a parent can shape the environment for your children in different ways.
You can create a reward-performance environment. In this environment the children are motivated and stimulated through external rewards and punishments. For example, you promise a child a horse if he finishes his school year with an A grade. The external factors determine failure or success.
An alternative environment is the learning environment. Here, the child is stimulated to investigate, to think for himself and to make his own choices. There are no good and wrong choices and answers. When a choice does not bring the expected outcome, the child will be disappointed. If it does bring the right result, he is happy from within.
In a learning environment the child takes responsibility for its own actions, choices and behavior. He will learn from his experiences, independent of the outcome. You learn the most from the mistakes you make. If you want to learn fast, you must make as many mistakes as you can as quickly as possible.
As a result, children growing up in a learning environment have a high self confidence and they become more independent. Consider this parenting advice.
Wrong and right are not facts but judgments. There is no right or wrong way of doing something or right or wrong behavior itself. Behavior is only wrong in the mind of somebody. From his perspective. From somebody else's perspective the same behavior can appear right. For example, speeding on the highway. What if the person in the back of the car needs to be in the hospital within minutes or otherwise he will be dead?
Wrong or right have a powerful implicit meaning.
First of all, it places you and your children you are saying it to in the performance environment. By using these words, you plant in the mind of the children that they have to be careful with what they are doing, how they play, how they behave and how they talk. It implies that they will be judged. Now and in the future.
Second, it might result in the children believing that they finally have to choose between you or your ex partner.
But what do you do instead? Take this parenting advice example.
Bobby tells his divorced mother that he eats fast food when he is at his father's home frequently. As a mother, you avoid expressing your opinion about the situation. Instead, you try to get a clear view of the facts. You could ask: “what did you eat on Friday? And what on Saturday and on Sunday?
Suppose, the answer is “Hamburger with French fries”, “Hamburger” and “Pizza”. You then express your concern: “eating fast food too often is damaging for the health of people. It affects young people in particular. I am concerned that it might affect your physical fitness and your mental health”.
The third step is to have a conversation. Discuss the options and the possible outcomes. Make your point clear, for example that too much fast food is bad for your health and that it his or her own responsibility to choose what to eat. Then put the subject aside.
This way, you place your child in the learning environment and you left (blaming) your ex completely out of the issue.
Most of the divorced parents that have been left behind have difficulties to accept their new situation. Of course and according to other parenting advice, you should first try to do everything to save your marriage. But once the divorce is inevitable, you should accept your new reality. The non-acceptance impacts you and your children in a negative way:
To have a new life after your divorce, you have to look and to go forward. That is where your future is. You need to make new plans, to develop new challenges and objectives. If you keep denying and keep attached to your married life, you will not be able to focus on the future for yourself and for your children.
Yes, if you lived a rich life, with a lot of luxury in a big house and maybe with a lot of status, it can be hard to lose it. If your spouse was working and you were not, you probably have to find yourself a job. That are big changes you have to deal with. However, there are many people in this world living in the same circumstances and worse.
Your children take you as an example. They feel what you are feeling. They do what you are doing. If you complain, they will complain. If you feel sad, they will feel sad and if you do not accept the divorce and your new reality, they won't either. Take this parenting advice or read some of the children's divorce stories
So wake up and take action to make the best out of your life and that of your children.
Words influence your unconscious mind. The use of positive words make you and your children think positive. Negative words have the opposite effect.
Try the following exercise:
Close your eyes and say aloud the following words: Â Divorce laywer, alimony, suffering, fighting, yelling, breaking up, punishment. How do you feel?
Now close your eyes again and say aloud: Caring, paying attention, giving, receiving, working together, happiness. How do you feel now?
The words you choose have an impact on the people around you and on yourself. By using positive words, you and the people around you become more positive. You become more optimistic. Instead of seeing problems, you will start seeing the opportunities.
“The boy is from a broken home”. What does it say? Something is broken. The implicit message is that something is wrong. It carries a negative judgment. It says something about the boys parents: they did something wrong. It suggests the boy is suffering from it, that he is in a disadvantaged situation.
The message enters our unconscious mind. It silently shapes our limiting beliefs. How does it help you to belief that divorce is bad for children?
Instead, parenting advice introduces the “Complex Family”. Complex family does not carry judgement. It is a neutral wording that is describing the new situation. The family still exists, but the situation has become more complex. The children might have parents and step parents, they live in 2 different places. They move from one place to the other at fixed intervals. The parents have more to organize. You have more relationships to deal with.
By saying Complex Family, your children will be affected in a positive way. The reality will be planted in their minds, not a judgment.
Summarizing, we discussed 7 imporant parenting advice issues: build a new relationship with your ex, creating and using a parenting plan, structure, doing activities for a healthy development of your children, creating the ideal environment accepting your new situation and the power of positive words. If you keep these parenting advice subjects in your mind, you are on the way to a prosperous future for your children and for yourself.
Return to the Parenting Plan page.
Return to the Child Friendly Divorce Self Assessment page.