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Has Divorce Made You an Overbearing Parent?Children of divorce need their parents’ attention to console them and remind them that they will always be loved. If you are worried about your divorce causing lasting emotional damage to your children, active parenting will allow you to watch for signs of emotional stress. However, it is possible to be too active in your parenting, to the point that you may harm your relationship with your child. You need to find a balance in which you are attentive to your children’s needs without becoming controlling or overbearing.

How Divorced Parents Smother Their Children

An overly involved parent can smother their child with positive and negative attention – both of which can be unhealthy:

  • Positive attention may be spoiling them with gifts or being overprotective of them.
  • Negative attention may be harsh punishments for misbehavior or setting strict rules.

It may not be your intention, but smothering your children is emotionally manipulating them to serve your own desires. Your children may become overly attached and dependent upon you, which hinders their maturation. Your overbearing parenting could also have the opposite effect, causing your children to rebel against you.

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Your Children Are Not Messengers When Co-ParentingCommunicating with your co-parent after a divorce can feel uncomfortable, even if you did not separate on bad terms. You need to stay in contact with each other to discuss issues related to your children. For some parents, having a child act as a messenger seems like a natural solution to the problem. After all, your child sees both of you regularly. However, any parenting expert will tell you that using your child as a messenger for your parenting discussions is unhealthy for them, no matter how old they are or mature they may seem.

Problems

Asking your child to deliver a message to your co-parent is forcing them to become a player in your co-parenting drama. You may think that it is benign to send a simple message, such as that you will be late in picking up the children next week. By tasking your child to deliver a message:

  • They receive your co-parent’s negative reaction to the news and perceive that the reaction is directed towards them
  • They are exposed to details of the conflicts between you and your co-parent that they should not know
  • They may forget to tell your co-parent and feel guilty about failing their task

In a similar vein to using your child as a messenger, you should not ask your child to spy on your co-parent and report back to you. You put them in the unwinnable position of either betraying their other parent or disobeying you.

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Four Ways to Help a Misbehaving Child During DivorceChildren can be unpredictable when it comes to how they will react to major events, such as their parents getting divorced. You like to think that you know your child well enough to be able to anticipate how upset they will be, but there is no precedent for them responding to divorce. If your child’s behavior takes a turn for the worse, that will add yet another concern to an already stressful time in your life. Bad behavior for some children is throwing tantrums or behaving rudely. For others, it may be more serious misbehavior that gets them in trouble with school or the law. You need to address your child’s behavior before it becomes a larger problem that creates consequences for them:

  1. Maintain Discipline: Do not let your child get away with bad behavior because you feel guilty about the divorce. Your divorce may be the reason they are acting out, but being lax with discipline will encourage their behavior. You should maintain the same rules for behavior and may need to punish your child if their actions warrant it.
  2. Show Compassion: There are ways to discipline your child while also acknowledging the pain your divorce is causing them. Try not to show anger towards your child when they behave poorly. Talk to them about how they feel and how you may be able to help them with their struggles.
  3. Pay Attention: Your child may be angry at you for the divorce because they feel you are ignoring them and their needs. You know that your parental responsibilities are one of the most important parts of your divorce, but they may not understand that. Paying attention and listening to your child is the best way you can demonstrate that they are still your top priority.
  4. Work with Your Co-Parent: Whatever efforts you are making to correct your child’s bad behavior, you and your co-parent need to be consistent. Discuss with each other what the rules are for discipline and what is an appropriate response to bad behavior. If one parent has grounded a child for misbehaving, the other parent should continue that punishment when the child is with them.

Contact a Kane County Divorce Lawyer

Many children struggle to adjust after their parents get divorced, which makes the time they spend with each parent important. A St. Charles, Illinois, divorce attorney at Goostree Law Group will make sure you are able to get enough parental responsibilities to be able to help your child through the transition. Schedule a free consultation by calling 630-584-4800.

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Coordinating Christmas Gifts for Children After DivorceYour first Christmas after a divorce can be a difficult adjustment for yourself and your children. Parents’ main concern is usually how they will divide parenting time during the holidays so that they both can enjoy it with their children. Gift-giving is another topic that co-parents need to discuss leading up to Christmas. Do not assume that your co-parent has the same idea about what is appropriate regarding the types of gifts you will get your children and their value. You should share your gift-giving duties in the same way as you share other child-related responsibilities and expenses.

Budget

Newly divorced parents can make a mistake by going overboard with Christmas gifts because they feel guilty about putting their children through the divorce. Exceeding your normal budget for your children’s gifts can have harmful consequences:

  • You are setting a new expectation for the value and quantity of gifts that your children receive.
  • You are teaching your children that they should expect gifts as compensation if you do something that upsets them.
  • Your personal budget after a divorce may be unable to afford more expensive gifts.

You and your co-parent should set a budget for your combined gifts for your children that is similar to what you spent when you were married. This means that each parent will give fewer gifts on their own but their combined gifts will be consistent with what the children usually receive on Christmas.

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Posted on in Children of divorce

How Courts Handle Religion in Parenting CasesThe allocation of parental responsibilities includes the responsibility to make decisions about the religious upbringing of the children. Illinois divorce courts prefer to not be in charge of deciding the religious beliefs by which the parents should raise the children. The state does not want to be seen as favoring one religion over another or dictating how people can practice their religious beliefs. If parents reach an agreement on religious upbringing, the court is instructed to approve it unless there is something unconscionable about the conditions. However, there are circumstances in which the court is forced to intervene in the parents’ religious decisions.

Lack of Agreement

When two sides in a divorce cannot reach an agreement on their own, they must take the argument to the court for a ruling. With religion, parents may disagree on:

  • Which religion the children should follow
  • Whether the children should be involved in religion at all
  • How often the children should attend religious services
  • Whether the children must follow the religion’s lifestyle guidelines

As with all parenting issues, the court’s primary concern is what is best for the children. The court will look at the extent of the children’s religious involvement up to this point and the potential consequences to each parent. Forcing children to follow a stricter religious lifestyle than they are accustomed to may make their post-divorce transition more upsetting. A parent can potentially use religion to control the children and limit their time and relationship with their other parent. On the other side of the issue, it may be unreasonable for a parent to demand that the children stop attending religious services if that has been their normal routine up to this point.

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