If you are a single parent that has experienced divorce and/or child custody battles, than this section will provide you the necessary tools and information that you may need to empower yourself as you go through this process. In many cases, it’s not a done deal once the judge hits their gavel. It’s a continually evolving process that doesn’t end as soon as your child turns 18. I have had many of my own battles with divorce and have experienced the following things:
1) Separation and Divorce
2) Child custody battles up to and including visitation scheduling, education and religious conflicts, determining extracurricular activities, medical and dental decisions and more
3) Child Custody modifications
4) Child Protective Services and More!
This does not replace the advice that is NECESSARY from a licensed legal professional or from a licensed therapist. These are my opinions based upon my experiences.
There’s a lot more that you can learn in this forum and my goal is to create an open dialogue or at least an open window so that you can see the bigger picture from the everyday issues that involved divorce.
Dallas Single Mom’s Top 5 Books on Divorce and Coparenting
- Co-Parenting Nightmare
- How to Parent Successfully with your Ex! Even if They’re a Jerk! by Jill Darcey
- Avoid the Ten Biggest Divorce Mistakes
- New Beginnings for Divorcing Parents – Workbook Co-Parenting Divorce Workbook
- Cooperative Parenting and Divorce Parent’s Guide
Every grandmother and grandfather will tell you hilarious stories of their children when they were first born. And for every funny and touching story they have, they will be able to tell you another for every hardship they encountered. Parenting is something that is done in many different ways by each parent. The following are four general styles employed by parents. In divorced families children will face many different styles of parenting with differences between the two households. As parents get remarried, blended families come into the mix and now parenting styles are even more complicated.
According to psychologist Diana Baumring there are four important dimensions to parenting:
- Disciplinary strategies
- Warmth and nurturance
- Communication styles
- Expectations of maturity and control
It is these dimensions where we derive parenting styles.
Authority: Authoritarian parents rule on just that: authority. Commands are given to children that they must follow regardless of the circumstances. If these commands are not followed, harsh punishment will ensue. These parents do not welcome feedback from their children. In fact, it is met with severe punishment. The children tend to be quiet and unhappy. They have more of a fear than a love for their parents. Male children have trouble dealing with anger and female children have trouble facing adversity due to their heavily structured life where nothing ever changes.These type of parents offer no reasoning and they are strict on obedience, status and hierarchy.
Indulgent: Indulgent parents tend to be described as lenient. They allow immature and childish behavior. These parents expect the children to learn from their mistakes and to fend for themselves in most times of need. These parents tend to be democratic and allow for feedback from there children on issues. They will hear both sides of an argument and usually make a compromise. Indulgent parents usually avoid confrontation with their children by all means, but do tend to be more involved and emotionally closer to their children preferring to be a friend moreso than a parent.
Authoritative: Authoritative parents are a combination of the two styles previously mentioned. They are the happy medium. While expecting proper behavior from their children, they welcome feedback and questioning on certain issues. They’re able to demand things of their children but are also able to respond to what they’re child says, questions and requests. These children tend to be the happiest, most confident and self assured of all the mentioned parenting styles. It is very difficult to be a purely authoritative parent. When children disobey or fail to meet expectations these parents are more nurturing and forgiving rather than punishing opting to identify the root of the problem.
Passive: Passive parenting is being completely un-involved. These parents may never be home due to immaturity, work or the like. These children are usually raised by grandparents, older siblings, babysitters or themselves. There is no parental involvement at all.
We are a combination of all 4 styles
Because environments are dynamic families and parents are a combination of all four even though passive would be much more rare. As single parents we are sometimes driven to have to rely on one style more than the other. If you have no support system you may sometimes rely on authority since there is no time to explain rationality of your decisions. At other times you might become more indulgent, sometimes doing so out of guilt for not having a present parent. The key for parents is to recognize your own behavior and learn how to adjust. Ideally we would always like to be authoritative but as a single parent it would be impossible to employ that method all the time.
It isn’t news to anyone that the number of single parents has increased over the last twenty years. More parents are cohabiting rather than getting married and many women are opting to have children on their own. The number of children who have been a product of single parents continues to grow. According to Kids Count Data center, the percentage of children in single parent families has increased by 3% to a total of 35% in 2012 for the nation’s families. In Dallas approximately 45% of children live in single parent families and in Fort Worth that number is 36%.
Single parents have to deal with a myriad of situations and sometimes making those decisions all alone. With just one income source or living on assistance it can be a huge challenge. How a person reacts to certain situations, and how one copes with change have affected decisions involving families today. Studies have shown that there are effects, whether positive or negative on being a single parent to children.
Conflicting studies have shown that there are positive and negative effects of single parenting. Some studies show that children who have been exposed to single parenting have lower self-esteem than those of shared parenting.
On the other hand, some studies show that single or shared parenting does not have any effect on the growth or well-being of a parent. How a parent deals with a child, and oneself can mold the dynamics of the family, which can lead to the emotional well-being of both the parent and the child.
If the single parent relationship between the parent and child is carefully managed, the following positive outcomes may be felt within the family:
1) Gradual lessening of tension- Prior to being a single parent, feelings of tension are present and are felt by the parents and children.
Oftentimes, the feelings of the child are not felt by both parents. When the situation is explained to the child, this can lead to a feeling of understanding on why the separation happened.Communication that is honest and representative of the realities of their present life. As parents it is not our job to protect our children from the realities of what their life is. There is no need to disguise the fact that one parent may or may not want to be involved. Also preparing them for the reality of the situation, what your feelings are about the situation can ease that transition. Encourage communication.
This understanding can help the child cope with the current situation, and thus gradually release tension towards the child’s parents, and to other people as well.
2) More time with each other- Tension felt during the discussions on separation and divorce lead to neglecting children. Screaming matches, and not speaking to each other are common feelings felt by children and the parent.
The effect of being a single parent thus gives more time to address the needs of children, and open communication channels between the two. Planning vacations, and bonding sessions with each other can be a result of this. More time would lead to a more relaxed family atmosphere. Bonding doesn’t have to be a trip or an expensive outing. Find time at home to relax without distractions. Parent child time in the car is also a good way to have these conversations.
3) Re-establishing ties with the community- Children and parents can work together, and can even establish relationships with the community because of this effect of single parenting.
Single parents can ask help from their neighbors regarding the care of their children, such as baby-sitting or helping out with household chores. This often leads to a positive feeling of involvement on both the parent and the child, and the neighborhood as well. Some single mothers create babysitting support groups and trade off days. Ask your family, your church, your child’s coach or teacher for help or a referral. Some of the best ways to help find childcare or community groups are on social media platforms such as Facebook or Meetup.
4) Out of the box experience to the child- Since the child now shuttles between two separate parents, the child can broaden his/her experiences pertaining to life. The child is more sensitive and aware to what goes around his/her life, and can feel that the world does not revolve around him. I remember a speech that blogger Sensibly Sara spoke about at a SeaWorld San Antonio AdventureCon meeting. She described her experience as a Foster Care child and having to be independent at such a young age. Kids that shuttle between two homes develop a sense of independence. In her words her experiences made her more “empathic towards the needs, thoughts and feelings of others.” In this way a parent that is now living between two parents needs nurturing to develop this sort of empathy in a healthy way. They are not replacing the parent in either household but their individuality needs to be supported and in proper care. Both parents must ensure this.
5) A sense of accomplishment – When a child is designated with small responsibilities, a sense of accomplishment usually is felt. Since additional responsibilities have been added, a feeling of openness is added to the sense of accomplishment felt. This is because a feat has been done to help out in the household. This makes the child feel that he/she is an important member of the household. This also establishes a routine. As a single parent, routines not only create stability but they also help with the additional stress of having to manage a household on your own. A child developing a routine and doing chores helps create stability in the environment. For non custodial parents, kids should also have a routine at your home. While they typically have fun at your home on the weekends, it’s important to also establish a routine for them even if you are the non-custodial parent. Their morning routine with a bedtime routine means that they are refreshed for school and studies when they go back home.
6) Prioritizing to lead to work and life balance – Single parents need to learn the value of prioritizing. Sometimes, new tasks are needed to be able to look for new types of jobs to support the family.
Schedules, school and financial obligations need to be prioritized to be able to maintain work and life balance. Attaining work life balance is a continuous challenge to the parent, due to additional responsibilities of managing a family. Routines also play a role in keeping this balance. Single parents should engage a good support network for assistance in babysitting if they need babysitters or daycare while they work. Managing stress and depression is also important so that you are not neglecting your duties as a parent and spend quality time with your child.
7) Active role in decision making – Children can play an active role in the decision making of single parents. Single parents need additional minds to think most especially in making major decisions. This also corresponds with your child living in tune with the reality of their life. If you plan on doing meal planning, allow kids to plan dinner one night. If you are looking for a family fun night make them responsible for planning the fun or suggesting ideas. With little kids, allowing them to have options in certain decisions empowers them. If for instance your child is trying to defy you or not do what they are told, give them an option that always includes what you want them to accomplish. That way the end goal is accomplished and the child feels empowered.
My middle daughter does not have a father that is active in her life. His exact email/message to me was specific. He didn’t want to be involved unless he had to pay child support because he could barely afford to take care of himself.
That’s it in a nutshell. Explaining to a 4 year old in simple terms that her father doesn’t want to be her dad is difficult. I don’t believe in sugar coating the truth. I told her countless times as well as a few other times that her daddy was not capable of being a dad so chose not to be in her life. Since those are his words that’s what I use. As far as she knows, she doesn’t have a dad unlike her brother and sister who have dads. I already got a yelling from a judge that I was the dumb one to have babies with idiots so no judgment on my life is needed here. I could have chosen abstinence (which sounds like a great idea now) or had an abortion (I don’t believe in) and of course I didn’t choose any of that. So I take care of my daughter in the best way I know how without a dad.
It didn’t occur to me she needed a dad
It never really occurred to me that she even needed a dad. In our day to day lives we have our routines and our schedules. I do what I need to do in order to feed the children. If you are new to the site you will know that when I use the term feed the children I am talking about taking care of my responsibilities. The things you need to do every day to provide security and put a roof over your head and those of your loved ones. The last man I dated mentioned to me that Baby B REALLY WANTS A DADDY! I remember hearing those words and it took me a step back. I always just assumed as a single mom it would always be just her and I (along with her brother and sister of course). I thought we were both in it for the long haul. Baby B and I are the outcasts in society looking for love finding it only with each other. It wasn’t until I saw how people responded to her that I even thought about it.
She’s my mini Snow White
Animals and people are attracted to my daughter. She has this fun loving quality that draws people to her. She takes direction very well and for the most part is very well behaved. The worker at Legoland saw her enthusiasm to race Lego cars with the boys and built a car for her. My ex loved giving her piggy back rides. My daughter still prays for him before she goes to bed. My friend from Houston who is a single guy loves playing with her as well. There was only one person that she knew as my boyfriend and that was my son’s dad. Other than that I made a vow not to really introduce the kids until it was serious. I mean men would play with the kids and we’d go out together but it was never something that established this person as my romantic partner. As far as she knows, these are just “fun guys” that do fun things like buy her stuff, take us for ice cream, go to Build A Bear etc.
She doesn’t need a dad
Baby B does in fact need a dad but this person has to be in love with me, her mother first. One of the things that rubbed me the wrong way was a friend of mine who enjoys spending time with her when we are together. I don’t view him in a romantic manner but some of the things he does rubs me the wrong way. For instance he mentioned her eating habits one day. My child eats very well when I am around. But since she ate sparsely with him he began asking me about whether she takes vitamins or not. The part that rubs me the wrong way is that I don’t like being told what to do. I like to be told logically or coaxed into new thinking but don’t enjoy declarative statements. If my daughter is to be blessed with a male role model in her life I can assure you it would be someone that has my approval first. If she is going to have a dad, it will be the man that I marry. If her real dad doesn’t want to be a dad, I’m sure whoever I get involved with romantically (who I am willing to put up with) that eventually wants to settle down would be willing to first accept her and of course then adopt her. There is no grey area there. My daughter has a lot of wonderful male role models such as my friends, my family, my dad and so she is blessed to have them as examples.
I have no advice on introducing your significant other to your kids. I know what I did and I was happy with what happened even if we ended up breaking up. The key is communication that is open and friendly with your child. As far as the dad discussion, I don’t exactly date just on who would be a good dad. While that is one aspect of choosing a lifetime partner there are so many other things. Instinct and your gut play a big role in it. At this time, Baby B doesn’t need a dad, she already has one and it’s his choice not to be involved. I’m sure in the future things may look different, but I think we are doing a great job now.
Prologue: One of the key things I have learned about divorce is that it is not meant for the faint of heart. Even the strong that go through it experience extreme difficulties once in the aftermath. As many of you know I went through a divorce and the annulment process with the Catholic Diocese of my home parish. That process was an eye-opener for me in ways you could never imagine. Had we gone through that process prior to getting married I probably would never have gotten married. The post below comes from an attorney for Koons Fuller (who I have used in the past). In this post it gives the appearances that since everyone has found someone that life is hunky dory. Don’t fall into that belief. Whether you are single, divorced or married your journey is your own. I do believe in Mr. Robertson’s assertion that you have to truly evaluate your options and move forward.
The young woman in my office — we’ll call her Janette — looked at me sheepishly. “I don’t’ believe in divorce,” she said. “I believe it’s against God’s will.”
Janette’s husband had a different view. He was having an affair and wanted to pursue that relationship. He filed for divorce.
As an attorney, it’s my job to represent my clients. I informed her that in our secular legal system, a court has jurisdiction over divorce and a judge will generally grant it even if only one spouse wants the divorce. Almost half of all marriages in our society end this way.
Janette was not able to reconcile with her husband. I could protect her legal interests, but I couldn’t save her marriage. She was heartbroken.
I come from a family where people didn’t get divorced — it wasn’t an option. But as I’ve handled legal matters for those who do, I’ve realized that God’s plan for us extends far beyond our personal decisions.
Janette called me a few years later. She wanted me to meet her new husband — a devout Christian. When we met, it was clear Janette’s new marriage was much more in line with her values. It was also obvious to me that both husband and wife loved each very much. She said she had never realized how wonderful life could be.
Divorce as a Process
Another couple — we’ll call them the Coopers — lived with financial and personal stresses that were overwhelming them. They decided to divorce. After one year, when neither had established a relationship with anyone else, they realized they had made a mistake. They still loved each other and decided to get married again. They even did so on their original wedding date. Now, more than 20 years have gone by and the Coopers are still happily remarried.
Financial, job or relationship stresses are seldom solved by divorce. Often, a pastor or counselor can help in this type of situation. Divorce, if its purpose is to get away from stress, often just diverts the sources of stress to other problems.
When individuals are faced with imminent divorce, I often encourage counseling to help them “redefine” their relationship. Divorce is not an event, it’s a process.
“What kind of relationship do you hope to have after the marriage ends?” I ask. Sometimes they’ve thought this out, but often they haven’t. They don’t realize they will continue to see each other at various events. If they have children, they will both go to school plays, graduations, weddings and parties. They will have to work with each other on visitation rights and other legal issues. Though this is not marriage counseling, it sometimes leads to reconciliation as a couple sees their relationship in a new light.
Divorce and Cancer
When I’m asked how to avoid divorce, I tell folks to think of it like it was cancer. Divorce and cancer have basic similarities: 1) You try to avoid both, and 2) Each changes your life dramatically.
When people have cancer, however, they usually pull out the stops to beat it. They get the most qualified professional help they can and often change their lifestyles. Many marriages could be saved if people applied this same level of commitment.
The Marriage Commitment
Bad examples abound in our society, including many of today’s prominent people. But divorce by Mom and Dad can have a much more insidious effect on children, especially when Mom and Dad make little effort to redefine their relationship. I once handled a divorce for a couple with a 13-year-old son. Years later, the son called me for an appointment. He wanted a divorce. I took him to lunch to talk it through, but he was resolute. That path had already been paved.
One thing I’ve learned from working in this business is that God is in charge and he uses all things for good. For those who trust in God, good will come. We have God’s Word on it. Janette and the Coopers are just two of many examples.
Sometimes I think of Isaiah addressing the Hebrews, who had been overwhelmed by the might of the Babylonians. “But those who trust in the Lord will find new strength. They will soar high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint.” You’d think this would start with walking and end with soaring, right? In many ways, this passage is appropriate for marriage. In your courtship and honeymoon phase, you soar, and then in your early years, you run. But as you encounter life’s ups and downs you learn that it takes a day-to-day commitment by both of you to make it work, and your relationship grows stronger.
Rick Robertson is one of the nations best known divorce attorneys. He has been selected one of the Top 100 Attorneys in Dallas-Fort Worth (Thomson Reuters, 2005), the Top 50 Attorneys in Texas (Thomson Reuters, 2012), has been nominated a Super Lawyer for 12 consecutive years (2002-2014) Thomson Reuters), was featured on the cover of the 2011 Texas edition of Super Lawyers (Thomson Reuters, 2011) and Awarded Best Go-To Lawyer for Texas Lawyer’s Go-To Guide. He is Board Certified in family law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization. Rick Robertson also speaks to church and civic groups on staying married and the many challenges that face those who decide to divorce.
“We always offer clients the possibility of saving their marriages,” he says. “We don’t need to drum up business, and we would much rather see people get their lives in order.”
No one likes getting divorced, but sometimes life doesn’t give you a choice if you want to stay sane. And that means you’ll have to hire a lawyer to help you out. Knowing that you’ll have to talk to a lawyer can add a whole new level of stress to your life, but it doesn’t have to. Communicating with lawyers isn’t as difficult as you might think. Here are 5 tips to help you learn the trick.
When you’re going through a divorce, you need your lawyer to know all the facts. If your lawyer doesn’t know pertinent details—like your spouse making a certain amount of money or the circumstances around the time your son broke his leg—he won’t be able to represent you as well as he could otherwise.
Be as honest as you can be while communicating. When you’re as honest as you can be, your lawyer can plan out a good defense should your spouse’s lawyer bring up a situation that puts you in a bad light. It’s never a good thing for a lawyer to be surprised in court—especially when you can do something about it. Tell them everything. The more they know, the more they can help you. And if you’re worried about your lawyer knowing too much and revealing private information, don’t be. Attorney-client privilege protects the information you give your lawyer, so they can’t reveal anything you say without your permission.
Every decent lawyer has a secretary in charge of their schedule. Get to know your lawyer’s secretary. Befriend him or her. Remember little details about them, to show them that you care. If your spouse misses a child support payment or something happens to one of your children, you’ll have to go through the secretary first to get to your lawyer, and if they’re on good terms with you, you’ll probably get in to see your lawyer a lot faster than you would otherwise.
If you have any questions about the court proceedings, paperwork, or any other legal matter, don’t be afraid to ask. Your lawyer is your legal counsel, and as such, they are there to counsel you. However, they can’t counsel you unless they know your questions. If you don’t ask questions and let them know your knowledge about legal matters (even if you know next to nothing), the best your lawyer can give is general advice and hope that it’s enough. Make the money you’re paying worthwhile.
Types of Communication
Face-to-face communication is important for the first couple of meetings with your lawyer. That type of communication is the best way to get a read on a person. After those first few times, though, you don’t need to meeting in person regularly. There are many other valid ways to communicate, like through phone or email. Make use of them, because oftentimes, they’re a lot more convenient for the types of questions and advice you need.
To go along with the above point, make sure you’re making the most of your money. You’re paying your lawyer for the amount of time they spend on your case, including phone calls and emails they have to respond to.
By saving some of your questions until you can ask multiple questions in an email, rather than sending a bunch of emails with one question in each of them, you’ll save yourself a nice chunk of money, and your lawyer will be appreciative, because no one likes answering five or six emails from the same person in one day.
Getting a divorce is never a fun experience, but by knowing how to communicate with your lawyer, it can make the process a lot less stressful. From Dallas to Kingston, personal injury lawyers, divorce lawyers, and criminal lawyers all speak the same language, and by following these tips, you can pass that language barrier and learn to communicate with them.
Eloise Hamilton has always been fascinated with law. In college, she studied the subject briefly before switching to business, but she still loves to maintain her knowledge of all things law, by visiting all kinds of law sites like Ontario Injured. She seeks to inform the general public about the finer details of law in a way they can understand.
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