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Parenting After Divorce: Managing Major Differences Between Two Homes

divorceDivorce is never easy, especially with children involved. So how can parents minimize the negative impact on their children, especially when there are major differences in parenting styles and living situations?

Start with the cardinal rule – NEVER bad mouth your ex in front of the children. Then try to employ these tips:

One Parent Makes More Money Than The Other:

If one parent is struggling to pay bills, and the other parent makes enough for extravagent vacations and fancy toys, there is a huge potential for trouble. Try these to handle income inequality:

  • Set spending limits for birthdays and holidays. Agree on a reasonable amount so that there isn’t a huge disparity in gifts
  • If one parent wants to get something like a television or gaming system, consider splitting the cost and having it be from both of you
  • Take advantage of the teaching opportunity. Explain that everyone has a different lifestyle and each living situation has positives and negatives

One Parent Has an Iron Fist and the Other is a Pushover:

Maybe dad is very strict, loud, and domineering, and mom tries to make the kids feel better and their punishment a little less harsh by being too soft. When parents like this divorce, the children are left with heavy discipline in one home and none in the other.

  • If you are the iron fist, tone it down, and if you’re the pushover, step it up a notch. It’s your job to adjust your parenting skills
  • Agree on punishments for major issues. Be as consistent with discipline between the two homes as possible.
  • Show the child that even though you live separately now, both parents are a united force against wrongdoing and continue the other parents punishments if necessary

Daily Involvement and Adjusting to Shared Custody

Not being with your children every day is hard, you will likely bounce back and forth between being depressed and excited about the extra free time. You can make the transition a little easier:

  • Make an agreement with your ex that whenever they are going to get a babysitter they ask you first and vice versa, giving each other the opportunity for more time with the kids
  • Pick your kids up from school or take them even if it’s your ex’s day, seeing them even for a few minutes helps keep you close
  • On your off days, check in with the kids, ask how their day was, stay connected
  • Both parents should attend conferences and school events if possible. Be civil, sensible people who can handle such meetings for the sake of the kids

Co-parenting can be very tricky to navigate, especially if you don’t get along with your ex. If you always keep in mind that your child is the most important thing, it will motivate you to find ways to make any situation work.


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