- Try not to upset the children’s routine too abruptly. Children need a sense of continuity and it is disturbing to them if they must cope with too many changes all at once.
- Dissolution of marriage often leads to financial pressures on both parents. When there is a financial crisis, the parents’ first impulse may be to keep the children from realizing it. Often, they would rather make sacrifices themselves than ask the child to do so. The atmosphere is healthier when there is frankness and when children are expected to help.
- Marriage breakdown is always hard on the children. They may not always show their distress or realize at first what this will mean to them. Parents should be direct and simple in telling children what is happening and why, and in a way a child can understand and digest. This will vary with the circumstances and with each child’s age and comprehension. The worst course is to try to hush things up and make a child feel he must not talk or even think about what he sees is going on. Unpleasant happenings need explanation, which should be brief, prompt, direct, and honest.
- The guilt parents may feel about the marriage breakdown may interfere in their disciplining the children. A child needs consistent control and direction. Over permissiveness or indecisive parents, who leave a child at the mercy of every passing whim and impulse, interfere with a child’s healthy development. Children need and want to know quite clearly what is expected of them. Children need leadership and sometimes authority. Parents must be ready to say “no” when necessary.
- Do not overlook the fact that you are only human and admit it. You will not be able to make a 100 percent score on being a perfect parent (no one ever does in good or bad times). When you fail in your attempts, acknowledge it, and resolve to attempt to improve day by day.
- Read and reread these basic guidelines. Add to them by writing down your own constructive, positive approaches to the handling of your new way of living. Discuss, when practicable, your thoughts and feelings with others you trust and feel comfortable with and benefit by sharing their positive attitudes.
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