The power of positive parenting skills is the power of being able to influence the life of your child for good, and for ever. It believes that, despite the challenges of parenting, the journey can be fun and fulfilling, and that you can discipline your children in loving and positive ways. It is the ability as a single parent to fulfill both mom and dad roles, and to influence your children to help them become successful, happy and well-adjusted adults one day.
The Difficulty of Positive Parenting Skills for the Single Parent
As a single parent, one of the great difficulties you face in applying positive parenting skills is the lack of consistency, especially if the children visit with your ex. You have little control over what they teach, how they teach them or the standards they apply to them.
You also have little or no control over the way they speak to the children. If your ex is miserable or depressed, they may be tearing the kids down every other weekend, while you are madly trying to be positive and speak uplifting words to them.
This makes the task of parenting more difficult but not impossible. But if this is the case with your ex-partner, you must remain positive and loving for your children as they grow and develop. Here are some suggestions on how you can develop your own positive parenting skills to harness the power for your single parent family.
1. Get Support
Don’t try to do everything on your own! Gather close family or friends, or reach out to a support group. If you cannot find these, pay for childcare or after school care, but get some sort of support to help share the time demands and emotional load.
1. Talk to your Ex
If you can share your desire for positive parenting with the ex, and if you can continue to communicate civilly with them, it is better for the children. I know it might be awkward, but put the kids first and try and coordinate discipline and care, presenting as united a front as you can for your children and being consistent regardless of whose home they are in.
2. Defuse the Damage your Ex Creates
Sometimes your ex will want to use the children to attack you. Sometimes they will keep speaking negatively to the kids. You need to first understand what has been said, then defuse it as lovingly as possible.
3. Don’t Overly Criticize your Ex
It’s tempting I know, but try to always speak kindly and positively about your ex-partner, even if they speak badly of you. As kids grow they will see who the positive one is and gravitate where they are loved demonstratively.
4. Provide a Substitute Role Model
If the ex is being difficult, try to find an alternative role model for the kids. Grandparents work really well for this, as can close friends, but I would caution trying to make a new boyfriend or girlfriend fill this role. The emotional attachments, and the threat they pose to your ex-partner, can definitely be counterproductive!
5. Act, Don’t React
When you discipline your children, clearly set out a limit and the consequences and follow through with them, every time. Make it a definite action, and take all the emotion out of it. Try not to be reactive, because when you react to what they have done it is very emotional, often negative and frequently damaging. Take the emotion out and act definitively.
6. Lose Your Temper and You Lose
Losing your temper is not positive parenting. When you lose your temper you lose the game, so don’t let the kids drive you to doing it! Step back, take a break, walk away, then deliver the consequences without the emotion.
7. Invest Time into your Children
Nothing says I love you like giving your children your valuable time. Sit with them, take them out for breakfast, play games with them, cry with them. They need your undivided attention more than they need a new Ipod or computer game.
8. Always Speak Positive Words
You control what you say and how you say it. Love them with your speech, encourage them and always be positive, even when bad things happen to you. Remember, they are watching you and will learn from you and even mimic how you react, so stay positive!
9. Be There For Them
There is unbelievable comfort for them know that, whatever they have done, however stupid, you are always there for them. Even if it means hardship or loss for you, your family is worth it, so encourage them and stand with them whatever comes their way.
10. Be Open about the Situation
Your children want to know what is happening in your relationship with your ex-partner. Keep them informed, although not of the negatives or the gritty detail, but make them feel part of what is happening. Make it clear that they were not the cause of the separation, and that they cannot change your mind and heal the relationship. Love them, talk to them but don’t give them hope of restoration that isn’t there!