When you’re in the middle of a separation or divorce, it is so easy to get caught up in today and lose sight of the bigger picture.
Your parenting plan may end when the kids turn 18, but your parenting duties do not. In fact, your time to be a parent after the kids are 18 is much, much longer than your parenting time before they are 18. My father lived to be 92 and he advised, guided, and worried about me until the day he died. He was definitely still parenting me!
The bonds you create with your children when they are young depend far more on the quality of your parenting than on the quantity of your parenting time. Even very young children know who they can count on for guidance and structure.
When parenting time is limited, many parents tend to follow one of two paths. On one path, the parent allows his/her house to become the party place with no rules. The kids watch movies they wouldn’t be allowed to watch with the other parent, stay up late, and do limited or no homework.
On the other path, the parent tries to assert him/herself as a parent by imposing stricter rules than the children have with the other parent and keeping the children from doing anything during the parenting time other than spending time with him/her.
Neither of these approaches works well to establish a lasting parenting relationship with your children. As children face the new responsibilities of college, work, and families of their own, they are looking for help in navigating their new world. For this they most often turn to the parent who provided guidance while they were younger. Unfortunately, this usually isn’t either the “party” parent or the strict and controlling parent.
Even with limited parenting time, you can be a stable, guiding force for your minor children. You can use your time with them to talk, play, and establish routines just for their home with you. If you can do this, you will have established yourself with them as someone they can trust with their future.
© 2017 The Wollard Law Firm, PC