The Priviledge of Being An Influence for Your Kids
When divorce happens to you and you are the parent left with the raising and influence of the kids, what kind of an influence are you? Here are some tips about what children really want and need from you.
Your kids worship you. They are unaware of many of the details that life involves. All they know is that there is this Big Person standing over them who radiates love toward them and they feel good being loved.
Sometimes your love for them assumes the form of stern insistence. Sometimes your love for them creates balloon jump rides at birthday parties. Your love might point them decidedly at the bathroom where their toothbrush lives and that should be used before they hit the sack. Sometimes your love sees them in a cute outfit and you just have to buy it.
Your love means that you keep your kids at the forefront of your thoughts night and day until they can take over that job for themselves. You think of them maturing into adulthood and this is a practical aspect of loving them because you are their key influence in their young life.
I suffered with trepidations when my girls went off to school for the first time because I knew that I wasn't going to be the only source of information for them any longer. I knew that they'd bring home to me what they had learned and that I would remain the judge of it's rightness or wrongness for them. I never wanted them to experience pain or sorrow or see wrong things. I knew though that even if I wanted something better for them, they had to see life as it is.
My influence on my kids ran it's fingers through every aspect of their lives. I was their chef, their dish washer. I was their launderer. I was their nurse. I was their teacher. I was their maintenance man. I was the parent with the main presence in their lives. It's not uncommon in a divorce for one parent to be doing the real parenting - all the little stuff, day in and day out. Buying the groceries, helping with homework, monitoring their computer use, etc. And sometimes the other parent is mostly concerned with the big events. You know, being front-and-center for their birthday party; buying them jewelry from where they went on their latest vacation, and never buying them tennis shoes.
If you're the Big Event Type, ask yourself if what you're doing is for you or for your kids. Are you doing the showy things to make yourself look good and ignoring what really matters? If you are, I've got a newsflash for you - it doesn't make you look good. Your fifteen-year-old doesn't really need diamond earrings. It's not a competition. Only one question is important. Are you contributing effectively to the upbringing of your children? You might be strongly motivated to provide the showy things. Swell. But make sure you also make contributions for the little things that they need throughout their weeks and months and years. The stuff that really matters to your children are the things that no one sees when you're doing them.
On the other hand, if you're a divorced parent who is really conscientious about parenting, good for you. Keep it up. Don't feel sorry for yourself. You are rewarded continuously as you see the results of your good parenting. You are doing important work. It's the most important job you will every have. I have clients that have tens of millions of dollars, but they cannot buy what you have with your children. Just remember that you are the chief influence they experience daily. Try to show them some positive lesson every day.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Len Stauffenger's parents taught him life's simple wisdom. As a divorced dad, he wanted to share that simple wisdom with his girls. "Getting Over It: Wisdom for Divorced Parents," his book, is the solution. Len is an author, a Success Coach and an Attorney. You can purchase Len's book and it's accompanying workbook at http://www.wisdomfordivorcedparents.com