Has your divorce made your parenting style seem tyrannical? You’re not alone. It’s common for children to label one parent as more “strict” than the other—divorce or no divorce. However, especially in the case of the custodial parent, you may have no choice but to enforce rules more often.
There’s nothing wrong with setting rules and sticking to them. But if you’re beginning to feel like the “strict parent,” consider these tips:
1. Choose your battles
Rules help maintain structure and safety, but there are a lot of them that children are expected to learn—especially during and after divorce. If you think your ex-spouse’s fun-filled parenting time is starting to cause problems, take a moment to consider how severely the issue impacts your child.
It can be easy for divorced parents to use rules to maintain a sense of control. But sometimes, letting go may be better than starting another battle.
2. Be flexible with your schedule
Your ex-spouse has asked to take the kids to a Titans playoff game – on one of your days. You may feel inclined to say no out of resentment for your ex and to avoid losing time with your kids. But consider it from a different perspective: Try to bring your concern back to the kids. If they’ll have fun, let them go! Your kids will appreciate you putting them first and they’ll have one more happy memory to look back on some day.
3. Plan your own “fun time”
Busy schedules make it difficult to relax and have fun with your kids. Even on the weekends, you may find chores, errands and other responsibilities taking precedent over “fun time.”
Part of being the “strict parent” is planning—don’t forget to plan some fun. Try to make room for at least one fun activity you can do with your child(ren) each week. Here are a few examples:
- Play catch, soccer, or tennis
- Try your hand at a video game
- Do an art project together
- Go on a picnic
- Bake and decorate cookies
- Go to a museum
- Play a checkers, chess, Yahtzee or another board game
Being the “strict parent” has its advantages. Establishing basic rules for your children teaches them respect, safety, and consideration. Following these parenting tips may make for an easier, more positive relationship between you, your kids and your ex-spouse.