Discipline After Divorce

Lax about Limits

The reality, of course, is that the demands of daily life can make it hard to enforce your rules all the time. If your kids balk about bedtime, sometimes it just seems easier to sigh and watch TV with them than to fight. When it's your daughter's turn to wash the dishes and she forgets, you may be too exhausted to argue and end up scrubbing the pots yourself. "Because you don't want more conflict, it's tempting to avoid upsetting the children by asking them to do things they don't want to do," Erwin says.

Bad idea. You may wake up to find that the balance of power in your household has shifted to the kids. Step back and decide what behavior boundaries are reasonable, Dr. Hunter-Bjorklund suggests. Are your kids really old enough to clean the entire kitchen after dinner, or should they just clear the table? What kind of language do you consider rude? Just how much of their homework should they be expected to do without your help?

One of the best ways to win your children's co-operation is through regular family meetings. "Even if there are only two of you, you're still a family," Shearer says. Let your kids know that you have some ideas about how you can all work together, and tell them you'd like to hear their ideas too. A possible item on your meeting agenda: creating a chore chart that lists what the kids need to do and when.

Don't forget, however, that one of the benefits of single parenthood is that you're the one who decides what standards your children will live by in your home -- there's no spouse looking over your shoulder to contradict or undermine you. And you'll be able to take great pride in watching your children grow up to be happy, responsible adults.

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