Divorced Kids Mean Discipline Problems?
Children of divorce are frequently considered behavior problems by teachers, extended family, and friends. Bad behavior often gets shrugged off with a comment like: “What can you expect? He/She is from a broken home.”
It is more difficult to handle children during and after a divorce because both adults and children are experiencing many emotional ups and downs. Most frequently, kids are angry, defiant, and heartbroken. When children can’t control their emotions, it is very difficult for them to control their behavior.
Because they felt they were abandoned, they test their parents, often becoming angry and defiant to see how far they can go in manipulating or pushing their parents to the limit. During this difficult time in their lives, they need extra love, security, and attention which neither parent maybe emotionally capable of giving because they are having such a rough time stabilizing themselves.
Parents naturally find it harder to manage their children when their own emotions are bouncing off the wall. The changes involved in a divorce upset everyone’s emotional equilibrium. Often it is easier to give in to the child than to withstand a barrage of endless crying, begging, pleading, or other manipulative techniques.
Kids are also frequently subjected to two different sets of rules, or lack of rules, at each parent’s home. If Mom has the kids most of the time, she maybe so emotionally upset over the divorce and the added responsibilities of being a single parent that she is unable to be consistent in her discipline. Sometimes the kids can do anything they want, but the next time they do it, they are severely punished. Consistency maybe difficult even before the divorce, but it is extremely important after the divorce.
If Dad is the non custodial parent, he may find it very difficult to discipline the kids at all since he only sees them occasionally and has little quality time with them. His authority or influence over the children might be totally undermined by derogatory comments the mother makes to the children about their father causing them to lose respect for him. Permissiveness may prevail during visitation times until the behavior is so out of control that visits are cut short. Generally, it takes extra effort from Mom to discipline the kids when they come home from Dad’s house.
If a stepparent enters the picture and tries to get involved in disciplining the children, the kids may resent it so much that they deliberately misbehave to cause problems in the home. Various studies reveal that the biggest troublemakers in first marriages are money and sex. But most problems in remarriages center on how to raise and discipline children.
Divorce is traumatic for both parents and children, but it does not automatically mean that your children will be out of control. One of the greatest things you can do for them is to teach them to be well behaved and to respect others. The way to do this is to set limits and discipline them with love. Always distinguish between loving children and not accepting their behavior, whether good or bad. Let your kids know that their misbehavior does not restrict your love, but that you discipline them because you love them.