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Discipline After Divorce

While seeking divorce advice in Pasadena, it might be tempting to ease up on disciplining your children. Divorce, after all, is a confusing and often traumatic event for children; often our impulse is to let them have, say or do whatever they want. But experts say that discipline during divorce is more important than ever.

Drs. Bill and Martha Sears are healthcare professionals and parents to 8 children who have been assisting frazzled parents for decades. On their website, AskDrSears.com, the couple has four simple discipline techniques to help both children and parents of divorce.

1. Reaffirm your love and availability - "Most discipline problems stem from children demanding attention and reaffirmation that they are loved and will be cared for," the Searses point out. To combat this, the doctors recommend avoiding big changes to the child's routine after divorce. Holding off on new schools, demanding career changes and new relationships will help your child adjust easier.

2. Level with your children - Children don't need the sordid details of why your marriage didn't work. But they do need two reaffirming messages: The divorce is not the child's fault and both parents still love them. "You don't have to (and probably shouldn't) dwell on the problems in the marriage, and don't run down your spouse," they note.

3. Organize the single-parent home - Disorganized and unsettled homes are a hotbed of indiscipline, so the Searses recommend getting single-parent homes in order with chores, schedules and routines before the children move in. Gradually giving them more responsibility will help them from feeling overwhelmed. "Remember, children are angry about the divorce, so ease them gently into increased responsibilities to keep them from rebelling," say the doctors.

4. Realize the other parent will have a different discipline style - It's pretty common that parents apart will have two totally different styles of parenting. Some Dads could be the fun parent while mom is seen as the enforcer. The varying styles of parenting could be the cause for a lot of drama. The Searses say, however, that children need discipline and schedules. If one parent is providing steady, stable discipline, they will adapt and quickly learn that both households have different rules. "As long as at least one of the parents has a handle on discipline, the child will feel grounded," say the Searses.

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