If you are now a single parent, there can be so many more decisions to be made, and so many more instances where you have to take action in response to a behavior. A lot depends on what the dynamics were when there were two of you parenting – who was the disciplinarian? Who was the comforter? Who decided (and how) what was acceptable behavior, and how was it enforced?
To help reduce the overwhelm you may now feel as you try to parent, I’m going to share a few basic principles you can use as you decide what your parenting is going to look like from this point on.
Start with looking at your tolerances. What do you tolerate in your child’s behavior? What do you feel is unacceptable? Do you tolerate whining? Begging? Shouting? Climbing on the furniture? Sarcasm? Disobedience and defiance? Not finishing what’s on their plate at a meal? Try to think through all the situations you meet in a day that cause you frustration or concern.
Then take a sheet of paper and make a list of those things that really bother you. “I can’t stand it when Sally ________” or “I am so embarrassed when he/she______” or “I feel so out of control when he/she__________”. (Substitute, of course, your child’s name in each instance.)
Once you’ve made that list, then number them in order of what ones are most important to you to change. Then ask yourself why it is important to you that this doesn’t happen anymore. What does it make you feel? What does it make you think? Really ponder about this – it’s important that you know, deep-down, what you want to teach your child, and what skills you want him or her to learn so that family life can be as pleasant as possible.
This should take you a couple of days. In my next post, I’ll share some ideas of what you can do with these lists. Take heart – as you learn and practice some tried-and-true principles, there can be peace as you raise your children, even when doing it on your own!