Tips for Parenting in a Balanced Way - March 2021
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As a former participant in the Co-Parenting for Resilience Program at Oklahoma State University, we are pleased to offer you this newsletter with tips to help you achieve the best for your child(ren).
Do you want your child to grow up to be respectful, confident, happy, secure and generous? Most parents would enthusiastically agree. Did you know that parenting styles are the most important predictor of what a child will be like as an adult? Learning to use a balanced parenting style will help your children be all of those things and more! 

Balanced parenting means letting your children know you love and accept them unconditionally, while also establishing age-appropriate, firm control. Age appropriate, firm control will look different depending on the age of your child. All children need clear rules and boundaries that are consistently enforced. Parents need to take time to explain the boundaries and rules to their children and, when appropriate, even let them have a say in what rules are established. 

However, being a positive and balanced parent through divorce can be difficult. The stress parents experience may push them to become a strict dictator who is always worried about enforcing the rules. When parents take on a dictator parenting style children may obey, but often feel understood and frequently rebel. On the other hand, parents can become marshmallow-like and enforce very few rules. This can result in children feeling a lack of support and become disobedient. Some parents can get so caught up in their own grief over the end of their marriage they begin to neglect their child’s needs and emotions. When this occurs, children can feel abandoned and start to act out in an effort to get their parent’s attention. It can be hard not to stray to a less effective parenting style, but research shows that a balanced style helps parents raise healthy, well-adjusted kids!   

Here are some ways you can create a balanced, safe environment for your child:
  • Be aware of what your child is doing and who he or she is with. When children go through a divorce, they can feel like their world is turned upside down. As a result, they may seek out new friends or groups where they feel understood. If parents are not careful, these groups can introduce children to risky behaviors such as drug or sex.
  • When it is safe to do so, allow your child to learn from the natural consequences of their actions. One example of natural consequences is that when your child does not put their dirty clothes into the hamper by a certain time, then their clothes do not get washed. The logical consequence is that they have to wear dirty clothing. Natural consequences teach children to be responsible and accept the consequences of their behavior.  
  • Give your child age-appropriate choices. When children have the option to choose what they would like to do, they frequently behave better. For instance, bedtime is set for 9 p.m., but the child can choose between wearing either their Batman or Spider-Man pajamas.
  • Spend time just talking with your child. Let them know that it is okay to share their feelings. After a divorce, many children have scary thoughts but do not know how to express them. Parents can help eliminate their fears and start the healing process by giving them opportunities to talk about their worries, disappointments, hurts and hopes.
You can make a big difference in your child’s life by consistently providing a safe learning environment.

To learn more click here to view the OSU Extension fact sheet:
Parenting with Natural and Logical Consequences

Need more help? Co-parenting is hard. We are here to help! Learn more about the Co-Parenting for Resilience Program, part of the Extension mission of Oklahoma State University's College of Human Sciences.
Copyright © 2021 Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Service | Oklahoma State University, All rights reserved.

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