Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Deprogramming After Visitation

  If you are a single parent who’s child goes through visitation with the other parent you know what Deprogramming your child is all about. In many cases of separation or divorce, there is often an uncooperative parent when it comes to raising a child you have both produced. One parent wants to raise their child a certain way and the other parent thinks differently. Instead of coming to terms or compromising this turns into a kind of battle because there is no meeting of the minds. The one who suffers the most is the child. This becomes confusing for the child and when they come back home after visitation they often still show signs of the other way of life. Deprogramming is necessary to get the child back on track and often takes a day or two. Most times the primary parent is constantly correcting their child’s behavior or they find themselves reiterating house rules. A child needs rules. It teaches them responsibility so that when they grow up they become responsible. Often times the parent who is granted the visitation is not as strict as the primary parent and they spoil the child. This may be out of guilt because they feel like they have to catch up due to the loss of time not spent with the child.  

  Also in many cases it is the mother who is the primary custodian. Mothers are portrayed as being too rough or too strict on their children and in my opinion it’s for good reason. It’s one thing to bring up a child to be strong physically and another thing to bring them up to be mentally strong. As a single mom myself, I fear that my daughter might be taken advantage of when she gets older. I try to instill in her the importance of an education. In this day and age it is possible to land a great job without a degree, but why wouldn’t you want to improve your chances of better pay and increase your chances of moving up the ladder with a degree? There’s nothing wrong with dreaming big and since we are parents we have to do this for our children until they are old enough to do it for themselves.

  On the opposing parent’s side, they much like the child do not seem to stress this point as strongly. It’s all about having fun when the child is in their custody. It seems like their goal is either to let a child be a child until they’re 30 or they want to be seen as the favorite parent. I’ll use my situation as an example. My daughter wanted to join cheerleading in her father’s town and not ours this past September. I agreed with the one stipulation that if her grades slip then she’s off the squad. Her father and I did not see eye to eye on this so obvious requirement. When he picked her up from school she was to go to his house and do her homework first and then go to practice. Well this was not being done. Her grades went down substantially and neither one of them informed me. I was left out of the loop until a concerned note came home from her teacher. It was written on a large yellow envelope full of work from my child and another sheet signed by her father at least three times. This sheet went home weekly from the teacher to keep the parent abreast of their child’s progress. My daughter and her father were sending it back to school without my knowledge. For almost a whole month my daughter’s grades suffered until I stepped in. She of course was upset with me because I held to my word and pulled her off of cheerleading. I explained to the both of them that if she was on the squad in our town with the grades she produced that they would’ve done the same. Needless to say, her father’s only concern was the money he put out for registration and a uniform. Her tears and his complaint did not move me in the least especially since I had to dedicate even more time than usual on homework and extra credit to get the grades back up.

  Another concern that I have for my child is if she’ll be a contributor to society or a drain. This entails common sense, independence, a bit of street smarts and a number of other attributes a productive adult should have. The best way to get this ball rolling is with chores and allowance. I believe and was raised with the belief that if a child is old enough to pull toys out then there are old enough to learn how to put them away. If a parent is constantly doing this for a child of theirs then the only thing they are teaching them is that the parent will always be there to clean up after them. It only starts with toys and if not dealt with correctly can lead to more serious situations. One of the best ways kids learn is through repetition.  

  A chore chart might appear to be too militant to some, but it can also serve as a great tool in parenting. Kids can ceremoniously learn that if they work they can get paid. If a parent believes that their child is too young to receive an allowance then they can use the bargaining method. When I started a chore chart for my daughter I felt she was too young for an allowance. Her chart had a spot after each chore for a check mark. I told her that if all of her chores were completed by the end of the week, then she could pick an activity like the movies. Don’t get me wrong. It took a little time for the chart to catch on because she was not given chores at her father’s house. She had only but to ask for what she wanted and it would be given to her whether she was well behaved or not. This includes, in my opinion, behavior in both houses as well as school.  

  These are just a few suggestions to aid in Deprogramming process. They might not work for everyone but it’s a good start. Many of us do not have the luxury of being in a good relationship with the other parent of our children. If you are count your blessings because it just makes raising a child even harder when co-parenting is not an option. Please remember that the one who suffers the most is the child and regardless of the situation we have to do everything in our power to make sure they have a positive upbringing.  

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