A separation can make you reconsider many things about yourself, your future and your parenting.
While I insist that parents who separate remain the same parents they were before, for many, the break in their family unit has them facing challenges in how they are supposed to be with their children. There is a new awareness in parenting styles when it becomes clear that both parents are very different and the separation actually allows both parents to now explore their unique style which was not necessarily recognised before.
While the world is ever changing, parents often like to refer back to known parenting styles, but there has never been a greater need for parenting to change and adjust to the needs of our 21st century children.
So how should parents parent their children in the midst of their divorce so that it reflects lasting positive effects on the children?
Be a role model.
I can never emphasize enough the effect of our behaviours on our children. Children watch us more than they listen to us and they are great at mimicking us, so it is important to check that we are worth mimicking.
Don’t be so set with your children behaving in certain ways if you are not clearly being that way yourself.
Children see, children do.
Have fun with them.
Children like to have fun. That is a big way in which they learn and develop their emotional, social and cognitive awareness, yet many parents parent their children “seriously” by fear that their children would otherwise not take them seriously. Quite the contrary. There are wonderful messages that can be handed through play: patience, generosity, sharing are just some of the qualities that children learn through play.
So next time you are with your children, don’t worry too much about the fact that it is your time to entertain them and take them to amusement parks, the movies or a play date, just have fun with them, at home, in the car, while shopping. No need to spend money or go out of your way. Just be a little creative and simply have fun.
Connect with your children.
I meet many well intended parents, but with a focus on their anxieties about whether they are doing the right thing or not, they miss the simple task of talking with and listening to their children.
Many parents also complain how their teenagers just push them away and never share anything with them anymore. If this happens to you, understand that you are simply disconnected from your children. You may want what is best for them, but listen to how you are talking to them. Are you criticising them, blaming them, bribing them to try and control them? This will only push them away. Instead connect with them through caring, supporting and trusting them.
Children thrive on being accepted by their parents. If they feel that whenever they are doing something it results in some form of blame or criticism or constant nagging, they will soon become disconnected.
So keep your focus on staying connected with your children and you will see them thrive as they grow up.
The Law doesn’t raise children, parents do!
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