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The Responsibilities of the Custodial Parent

An Issue of Discipline

Studies have shown that children do best with firm guidance combined with a lot of communication and affection. You may be tempted to overindulge your children to make up for the pain they are going through because of your divorce. This approach has been shown to have the worst outcome for children. Frankly, a stricter attitude toward discipline (we're not promoting hitting here!) seems to help children and teenagers more than an overly permissive style. At this unsettled time, children need definite boundaries and limits combined with a lot of patience, love, and understanding.

Caring for Yourself

Silver Linings

If you and your spouse had been battling it out for custody and visitation, be grateful now that the other spouse wants to be active in your children's lives. While you might fear the times when your children are away from you and you are denied access to them, you will come to realize that the time they spend with their other parent gives you a much-needed break, allows your children to have both parents in their lives, and gives you help with the monumental tasks of parenting.

One of the most important things you can do to support your kids is to take care of yourself. If you are an unhappy parent, it will have a major effect on your children. They look to you for strength and support. It's frightening to children of any age to see a parent lost to depression and thus removed from them emotionally; for many, the situation provokes anxious feelings of losing that parent as well, something especially painful at the time of divorce. To help them, help yourself by:

  • Getting enough rest and exercise, and eating healthily.
  • Putting yourself in places where you can meet new people.
  • Getting busy with renovating your new life; start with renovating your house or apartment, even if it's just a fresh coat of paint and some new throw rugs!
  • Taking an adult education class or volunteering.
  • If necessary, going into psychotherapy for a while.

If you are the custodial parent, you have a lot on your plate. As long as your ex-spouse is in the picture, however, you are not entirely alone in raising your children.


Excerpted from The Complete Idiot's Guide to Surviving Divorce © 2002 by BookEnds, LLC. All rights reserved including the right of reproduction in whole or in part in any form. Used by arrangement with Alpha Books, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

To order this book visit the Idiot's Guide web site or call 1-800-253-6476.

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