Parenting is hard to do in any situation; however, after divorce it can be even more difficult. Parenting can be hard when the children is being shuttled between two homes and having to constantly readjust. Children may also react differently to separation and divorce, and they may need extra help dealing with their feelings. Experts assert that the best way to deal with children adjusting to a divorce is to maintain consistent discipline after divorce, which allows them to cope more easily.
Discipline can be defined as “to train someone to obey rules or a code of behavior.” A parent’s job is just this; to train up your children to be productive, respectable, and well mannered individuals. Parenting by definition requires some form of discipline, and just like with most aspects of a child’s life, including education, nutrition, exercise, and medical care,it is in the child’s best interests for it to be as consistent as possible.
Consistent discipline may only be possible if you are can reasonably communicate with your ex-spouse. However, it is important to note that consistent discipline between parents is very helpful to preventing your children from playing one parent against the other. You and your ex-spouse can take the time to determine what behaviors are unacceptable across the board, such as lying, hitting, stealing, talking back, bad grades, not doing chores, or others. From there, the two of you can have very specific consequences for these behaviors that can be implemented in both homes. You may decide that hitting always results in time out, or that bad grades always results in loss of video game privileges. This tactic will make it clear to children that both parents find certain behaviors unacceptable regardless of the home the child is in at the moment. In addition, parents should notify the other parent of the child’s behavior and the punishment implemented. This way the other parent can continue the punishment if it is necessary.
Try not to give into the temptation of being the “nice parent.” Often, parents are tempted to be more lax when the child is in their own home. However, the child needs the consistency of boundaries and rules in both homes. This also makes it easier for the child to get used to the established rules.
Children might fight you on rules, by saying things like, “but Mom lets me do it!” Simply maintain that in your home, it is your rules. Try saying something like, “when you are with your Mom, she may allow that behavior, but you know it is not allowed at my house.” If the other parent refuses to cooperate with having consistent discipline, or simply unable to tell the child no, you can still maintain consistent discipline. You can still impose your rules and boundaries in your home when your children are there. Though it is not as ideal as having both parents cooperate, it is still a level of consistency that your child needs. In time, your child will learn the boundaries set in your home and adjust to the new living arrangements.