Divorced parents who raise their child differently

I am divorced and my son lives with me but spends a lot of time with his dad too. While there is no doubt that we both adore our son and that we are both doing the best we can, we have VERY different parenting styles. When we were married, it caused conflict in our home and after we got divorced, I thought it would be great to be able to just get on and do it my way…and is it BUT there is still his way over weekends and it drives me crazy!

The happiness and security of routine

So why are we so different? Here’s a glimpse into our styles. I am very neat, very organised and very disciplined. I expect the same from everyone around me including my 6 year old. I think that children thrive on routine, lots of sleep and a healthy diet and lifestyle. Because I have always been this way, I encouraged my son to be the same way: At my house, he is easy going and well-behaved. He will always choose water to drink, always goes to bed on time and tidies up after himself. Now I can imagine people out there thinking that this sounds like no fun at all but that’s the beauty of it!

There is time for fun because I don’t have to spend my day telling him what to do or doing extra chores for him. We play, we laugh, we rough and tumble and our home is a happy place.

We do not have a TV aerial (by choice), although we sometimes put on a DVD. My son never asks to watch TV and is very happy playing outside or in. Although he will push the boundaries now and then, on the whole he is a delight!

Too much time to relax the rules?

My ex is what I call “fun dad”. My son has free rein to eat what and when he likes, watch cartoons on TV at any time of day and there’s no real bed time. Whenever they’re together, my son will always ask to drink cream soda and watch TV. My ex has explained to me that as he only sees him on weekends, he doesn’t want to be dictatorial and have to say “no”. While I understand his logic, I don’t necessarily agree. I think that parents who allow total freedom and access to things that are unhealthy are just lazy. They think it is much easier to just let the kids do whatever they want. What they don’t get, is that once you have set the rules and been consistent with them, kids will accept them and there will be no more arguments and whining.

Neutrality and the middle-ground

My son is quite funny now that he is almost 7. He knows that the food dad gives him is bad for him and he always tells me that he is so pleased I feed him veggies. He also tells his dad over the phone that he doesn’t want sweets anymore but as soon as they see each other, he asks for an ice cream or a gingerbread man! He’s figured out our parenting styles and he works within the parameters of each style in each home.

When we spoke to a therapist about this, she said that while it is not ideal at all, the fact that he accepts and understands both ways is good. He doesn’t try to live according to dad’s style in my home and vice versa. 

The fact that he has two parents who love and care for him and both spend so much time with him is a huge positive- hopefully it will be enough to continue to make him a happy, secure child.

Here are some interesting articles relating to divorce:

Divorce is worse on children

Getting divorced

How to explain divorce to children

What children don't need

Mom and dad split up

Do you and your ex discuss how you raise your children?
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