Spending uninterrupted time with your child or children after a divorce can be the only thing that feels right in the aftermath of a divorce. Though divorce is not recommended, it often wakes parents up to the idea that time with their children is precious and that their children's youth is fleeting. That's a good thing. If you are divorcing and want to help your children become well-adjusted and able to handle to trials of their life ahead of them, it is important that you remember that children tend to learn from what they see, not what they are told. They mimic what you do, not what you tell them they should do. Therefore, in order to maximize good modeling for your children -- assuming both parents are good role models -- the children will need to spend time with both their mom and their dad.
There are Three Golden Rules, a far as I am concerned, as to why there should be liberal time spent with both parents post divorce:
First, time with your children will, hopefully, provide joy and pleasure for your children. This is especially true if the non-custodial parent had been, before the divorce, sort of a "hands off" parent. You can begin to "make-up" time not well spent in the past (at least as far as the children are concerned). Most children will just love the attention and they are very forgiving of an awkward parent learning how to cook, keep track of tiny clothes and navigate through a craft store for a last-minute school project. Kids like to see grown-ups learning new things. Keep your cool. It's fun to learn how to take care of the little things in your children's lives and they appreciate it . . . eventually! Beware of bigger kids, however, as they might find pleasure and joy only in things that do not involve either parent. Be patient. Maybe back off a little but always let your child or teenager know how much you love and admire them just as they are.
The second sound reason for custodial care time with your child or children is to promote a parent-child relationship -- a bond -- that cannot ever be made up for if the opportunity is lost. Sometimes parent-child bonds do not take well. That is a sad story. However, if there is no opportunity presented for a bond to develop, that is beyond sad. It is a tragedy. The child is then without the support of one of his or her parents and that child is left to wonder why he or she has been so neglected. Kids need both parents, if at all possible, for their developing sense of self. Self-esteem, in other words, is very much wrapped-up in the child's relationships with his or her parents.
Third is the ability to influence your children. If you are a good person, this is good. If you are bad, uh oh. Still and yet, it is your natural right as a parent -- and one of the primary reasons that people have kids in the first place: to raise them and influence their worldview, attitudes, tastes and values. It is natural to want to have children grow up and have sensibilities that are similar to ours. Children learn by watching you navigate through your life. You are their most important teacher.
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