If you’re a divorced parent, you understand the deep desires to protect your kids, ensure that they have a “normal” upbringing, and that co-parenting or single parenting won’t negatively affect them. It’s (or it should be) every parent’s wish to make sure their kids and taken care of. Especially if you were dragged through your parents’ messy divorce, you definitely want to avoid that with your kids.
Keep in mind that parenting is, at its best, a bunch of educated guesses. There is no #1 right way and it takes trial and error. Kate Scharff, therapist and divorce expert, recently shared the common mistakes divorced parents make and we think they’re spot on.
Having anxiety about separation from your kids? The first common mistake is a clingy goodbye. Your kids need to feel like they have your blessing to go be with their other parent. Breaking down in front of them each time you hug them to say goodbye will confuse them and make them feel like they’re hurting you… when it’s obviously out of their hands. Another common mistake is too much digital contact. Don’t text, email or call your kids every hour. We know it may be a hard time, but you can easily understand why that would push your kids even further away.
Feeling lonely? Don’t lean on your older kids. They have their own friends just as you should have your own. They might be older but they’re still your children and you need to respect that boundary.
Angry at your ex? Don’t talk trash in front of your kids. Trying to bring your ex down in your kids’ eyes won’t do either of you any good. You might think it makes him/her look bad. But realize that it makes you look bad too. Your kids don’t want to be around that kind of environment.
Feel like you’re losing control of their lives? Don’t interrogate them or be a “helicopter parent.” And don’t freak out when things happen under your ex’s supervison that you don’t approve of. It’s true that you have less control as a single or co-parent, but trying to compensate for that will not help.
Most importantly, remember that you will make mistakes. Parenting is the hardest job in the world. Don’t be afraid to tell your kids that you regret what you did and will do it differently next time.