In Part Two of Co-Parenting Through Divorce, we talked about the emotional effort of revising your relationship with your ex-partner, with the goal of a business-like relationship.
This frees up your energy to continue the work of co-parenting and your own positive self-development. This work is part of your healing process.
In Part Three, we’ll talk about active parenting, a positive method of parenting as part of a divorced couple.
Remember there’s a lot of strong emotion involved around divorce; learning to separate your parenting from the marriage and divorce is an important process and skill, but it’s worth it to preserve your child’s self-esteem and your own inner self development.
Active Parenting Skills
Active Parenting is taught throughout the country at major universities as an evidence-based method of parenting. You can take a simple and inexpensive online skill-based course here.
Active parenting is based on defining parenting as: protecting and preparing children to survive and thrive in the kind of society in which they live.
Active Parenting identifies three major parenting styles.
Which style do you tend to practice?
1. The Dictator Style:
This style of parenting is common in families from societies and communities where oppressive, rule-driven structures specify behavior.
The Who? Parents make the rules.
The Why? “Because I say so.” Not much discussion of underlying concepts of behavior.
The How? Using reward & punishment
The Result: Studies show that children raised in this manner tend to behave in this way: structured, obedient, insensitive to others, dogmatic, fearful, and have low self-esteem.
2. The Doormat Style:
This style of parenting is often found in people who have rebelled against restrictive rules but haven’t resolved their inner conflict around their own self-esteem and positive discipline.
The Who? The child makes the rules because the parent has abdicated his or her decision-making.
The Why? Child says so. Not much discussion as this could “hurt”the child’s self-esteem.
The How? There are no clear rules, so the home it feels chaotic.
The Result? Studies show that children raised in this manner tend to behave in this way: aggressive, strong-willed, violent, self-centered, insensitive to others and self-aggrandize.
3. The Active Style:
This style of parenting requires that the parent has done his or her emotional work around childhood wounds, need to control, authority and shoulds.
This style of parenting is a good fit for today’s democratic society, where there is a lot of discussion and negotiation in developing the societal norms and rules.
The Who? The parent and the child make the rules, with the parent leading the way.
The Why? Rules are created and followed because the situation naturally calls for a rule, it is not personal.
The How? The discipline follows natural and logical age-appropriate consequences. The parent uses “I” messages and does not shame or blame the child.
The Result: Studies show that children raised in this manner tend to behave in this way: cooperative, empathetic, problem solving, analytical, communicative, use reasonable negotiating skills and have realistic, positive self-esteem.
What Does Active Parenting Look Like?
DO use your influence as a parent to encourage by:
- Showing confidence in your child
- Build on strengths
- Valuing the child
- Stimulate independence
DON’T use your influence as a parent to discourage by:
- Focusing on mistakes
- Negative expectations
Remember, everyone make mistakes; successful families handle their problems and learn from them. Unsuccessful families make problems worse and don’t learn how to improve.
Active Communication Phrases:
These skills are easier to reach for as behaviors if you have done your own emotional work around your own feelings of distance, loneliness, anger and frustration. This way of communication is easier if you are able to feel, sort through, identify and effectively express your own feelings.
- I don’t feel good about this.
- I am not comfortable with this.
- I’m confident you can do this before the next commercial.
- I have a problem with you sleeping in.
- I feel taken advantage of BECAUSE I have so many thing to do in the morning.
- I would like you to get yourself up and be downstairs by 7:30.
Active Communication Skills:
- De-escalate the emotion: I understand you are upset, but the limit is abcd.
- Think out the consequences and stick to them unemotionally. Don’t rage.
- Have family meetings to plan the week and to plan the calendar, the menu.
- Use family meetings to problem-solve:
- Clearly state the problem.
Share thoughts and feelings
Decide on a solution
Put the solution into action