Your Program and Children of Divorce
This program sounds like it might be a good idea, but I am divorced and my children’ father won’t go along with any of it, so what can I do?
Many single parents report similar struggles and are concerned about how the program can work for them. Of course, it is better if parents can agree on exactly how to raise their children, but even in intact homes, perfect agreement is often not the case. Actually, it may be at least somewhat easier to deal with children in a home where you have complete control than in one where you and the other parent disagree strongly about discipline.
The keys in this situation are not unique: make it clear to your children what is expected, avoid supplying benefit for inappropriate behavior, and meet their important needs when your children are doing what is expected.
You may be worried that your children will be confused if the expectations aren’t the same in both households. But it is not essential that you and the children’s father have the same expectations or use the same approach. Note that by three years of age many children are in preschool where they quickly learn that expectations are different in school than they are at home. In school they learn that they must take turns with other children, that they must stay quiet during nap-time, that they must share, and that they must follow other adults’ instructions. Most children, after a brief period of adjustment, have no trouble going from their home, with its set of expectations, to school, with its different expectations, and back to home again. Further, within the school day, they learn they can be quite boisterous on the playground but must suddenly be much more controlled in the classroom. The transition from one parent’s home to the other typically demands much less adaptation than do moves from home to school or playground to classroom.
Develop your program to fulfill your goals for your children and follow through accordingly. Your children may complain that your rules are unfair and if you react defensively to the complaint, your children may respond with more complaints. A better response will be to acknowledge there are differences that can be confusing to them. Then calmly reiterate that in your home you do things the way you have laid them out. Of course if there are residual strong negative feelings between you and the father, being calm may be difficult, but it is important that you keep those feelings out of interchanges with your children, who are not responsible for the other parent.