9.7Susan M. Hais

For healthy and happy children, having boundaries and rules is important. When together with both parents, there only needs to be one set of rules. However, often after a divorce in a co-parenting situation, the parents will have different rules for their own houses. This can lead to a number of difficult situations.

The obvious answer is for parents to sit down and discuss the rules they want for their children. Yet, you divorced for a reason and part of that reason was likely that you could not communicate or agree with each other. Instead, perhaps it is better to have separate rules, but rather to make sure that the child knows they need to obey both of them.

In this respect, don’t be afraid to explain why those rules are in place and don’t be afraid that you are not the “soft” parent. A child needs to have boundaries. Yet, going from one set of rules to another for young children can be confusing. Be gentle in reminding them of your rules at first, and if it becomes continued behavior, start to enforce it with added chores or appropriate punishment. Given enough time, your child will adjust to switching between rules.

Finally, don’t feel bad if your child sees you as the stricter parent. Each person has their own parenting style, and if you view it as the best way to raise your child, then you should continue. Your child may try to play the other parent’s looser rules against you, but it doesn’t mean they love you less, it simply means they want the advantages of loose rules. As they get older, they will understand your reasoning. Often divorced parents use children as pawns, but children can use divorced parents as pawns to get what they want as well.

If you are divorced and crafting a co-parenting plan, let us help you. Not only can we help represent you in the divorce process, but we can also help with custody issues. Contact us today to see what Hais, Hais & Goldberger can do for you.