Parenting is never easy. The challenges are enormous. Decisions are rarely black and white. How much should you indulge your children? When do you step in on sibling or friend-related battles? How much can you trust other parents watching your child for sleep-overs and play dates? How tolerant should you be regarding food and eating issues? When should you step in with discipline? When are you crossing the line with punishment? The questions and decisions are infinite, emotionally challenging and hard to resolve.
All of this is life as usual for parents in a traditional marriage. When you add the component of divorce to the mix, the waters are considerably more muddied. And many divorced parents find themselves in the position of questioning their true motives when faced with parenting decisions. What about you? Are your behaviors influenced by your feelings about your former spouse? Are you responding proactively based on your child's best interest -- or reacting based on revenge, spite, anger or other "I'll show them ..." validations for "getting even"? When your child's well-being is at stake, these are questions deserving serious reflection.
Proactive parenting is thoughtful parenting. It's based on making decisions strategically designed accomplishing your goals with minimal stress. You consider the consequences before you act, especially its effects on your children as well as yourself and their other parent.
Reactive behavior is defensive behavior. There's little thinking involved about the consequences of your actions. It's like shooting first and aiming second. It usually results in putting others on the defensive. They then react to you, creating a vicious cycle of mistrust, anger and resentfulness.
When faced with making decisions about holiday activities, summer vacation, attending the school concert or neighborhood soccer game, are you thinking first about how your child would like things to be? Are you seeing the world from their perspective for a while? Are you basing your decision on creating a win-win outcome for your "family" -- or trying to wield power over your ex to keep them out of the equation? It's often easy to justify being rude or uncooperative, too tired or too busy to share the kids with their other parent. But are you remembering who is really being hurt by your behavior?
By practicing proactive rather than reactive parenting after your divorce, you are giving your children the best hope for a happier and more positive future. It's worth the time, the consideration and the awareness about choices you make. And you'll be a better parent in the end.
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Rosalind Sedacca, CCT is a Divorce & Parenting Coach and author of the internationally-acclaimed ebook, How Do I Tell the Kids about the Divorce? A Create-a-Storybook Guide to Preparing Your Children -- with Love. For her free articles, blog and valuable resources on divorce and parenting issues, as well as her free ebook on Post-Divorce Parenting, go to: www.childcentereddivorce.com.
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