What can you do if your adolescent daughter brings a troubling issue to you and you have absolutely no idea how to handle it? How can you learn the best way to teach your toddler not to do something? What if your kids just won’t stop fighting? Will you choose to have the final say to stop the squabbling or would helping your child to make their own choice be the best way to go? While you and your ex (or soon to be ex) are officially “co-parents “, you will nonetheless find yourself making many parenting decisions by yourself after the divorce. When it’s just you and the kids tonight, this weekend, or this week, issues will inevitably crop up and then it’s parenting showtime…what will you do?
These are just a few of the parenting issues that divorced or divorcing parents must face. In the best possible case, divorcing or divorced co-parents are open and willing to talk with each other about parenting issues and can use each other as parenting consultants to figure things out and create a more or less unified parenting structure between their two homes. Even so, knowing when to make that phone call or send that text to your ex for help and when to tough it out solo takes some work and some getting used to.
Getting the information and skills that you need to best handle those solo parenting moments can be a real challenge. Many newly solo parents choose a shoot from the hip parenting style and they more or less figure things out as they go. They use trial and error to decide what types of structure and decision making works best for themselves and for their children. If your formerly straight A son James shows you his D in math and tells you that “all the kids got bad grades in math this semester” , if you were a let’s-just-wing-it style solo parent, you might try then and there to figure out what to say and what consequences to use to best address this. Some solo parents, particularly those who have been parents for quite some time, do very well working this way. Others find this to be too anxiety provoking or confusing and choose another style.
Other solo parents take a different route. They do lots of research in hopes of better preparing themselves for whatever kinds of issues they might eventually be faced with. They read parenting books (there are hundreds available these days), they talk with other married or solo parents, they consult with professionals: divorce coaches, child specialists, family therapists, pediatricians, teachers, and clergy. In short, they get themselves as much education as possible. This too can be a helpful approach, especially if your children are young and you don’t have a lot of previous parenting experience.
Do you have ideas in mind ahead of time and then use these to guide your thinking or do you jump right in and hope for the best? Which style works best for your family? We’d like to know how you’ve figured things out as a solo parent. If you care to, please leave a comment below.