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Practice As if Parenting
Some parents feel badly about their separation in view of the kids and are reluctant to follow through with expectations or alternately; they try to buy their children’s affection with toys or favours particularly in view of settling child custody or access matters.
parents may think they are compensating for the child’s distress over
the separation, but they are really trying to assuage their own guilt.
While the kids may enjoy the shower of gifts and special liberties, this
only gives rise to self-righteousness – a sense of entitlement where
they think they can have whatever they want and rules don’t apply. Even
though parental separation may be distressful, it can be overcome. A
developing sense of self-righteousness can lead to selfish, self-centered,
out of control children and can last a lifetime.
are well advised to continue parenting on the as if principle. That
is to say, they parent as if they were still together – not
separated. The same rules, routines, limits and expectations apply; There
are no special favours and no purchasing of extra toys and games. If the
children are distressed, parents should talk with them and normalize their
upset, not let them get away with inappropriate behaviour or compensate
with inappropriate favours or gifts.
if one or other parent appears to not heed this advise, this is no reason
for both parents to let go of appropriate parenting. Kids need at least
one responsible parent who will teach right from wrong, set limits and
routines and won’t spoil the child with a shower of gifts.
parents are concerned that their child will complain or use the difference
to manipulate them to grant favours as the other, these parents must still
stand their ground. The solution is not to run down the other parent for
spoiling the child, but rather to concentrate on being appropriate parents
even in intact families try to pit one parent against the other. So
whether intact or separated, rules, routines, limits and expectations must
prevail. Over time the children learn there are different rules with each
parent. As long as you remain firm, they learn that you cannot be swayed
and they behave accordingly. Over time, they also learn to respect the
parent that offers rules, routines, limits and expectations as this
provides for a more stable and predictable environment that encourages
a child objects, you can ignore the objection and continue to parent as
if. Children’s protesting doesn’t make their demands right. If you
wouldn’t do something when you were in an intact family, then
shouldn’t do it just because you are separated. Parents must come to
terms with the fact that they only have control of themselves and their
domicile. They do not have control of the other parent or their domicile. As
if parenting begins in one’s own home.
Direnfeld, MSW, RSW
For information on Direnfeld's book, Raising Kids Without Raising Cane, click here.
20 Suter Crescent, Dundas, ON, Canada L9H 6R5 Tel: (905) 628-4847 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org