Overcoming apologetic parenting when you are a divorcee


Statistics on divorce in Africa and around the world have, in the recent past, been on a rise. In Africa, the older generation blames this on the rapid moral decay in modern day society.

According to them, abandoning certain traditional practices and way of life in favor of modern lifestyles is perilous to the sanctity of marriage.

The younger generation might not agree with that.

Divorce rates in Kenya

Kenya has over the years experienced an increase in divorce rates. A study conducted by the Daystar University revealed that most Kenyan couples decide to call it quits before their 10th wedding anniversary. These findings were drawn from a survey that sampled 1,200 married, divorced and separated Kenyans from 46 counties.

Even though divorce liberates two people from a union that is seemingly not working, it ensnares in its wake the children born from that union. From being raised in one home, the children now have two separate homes and with them are two parents nursing a guilty conscience for causing or for being part of a situation that divided them as a family.

Habits of apologetic parenting

Too lenient

In her book The Seven Fatal Mistakes Divorced and Separated Parents Make, Shannon R Rios contends that;

Sometimes, when parents divorce, they want their child to like them the most. They can feel guilty about the divorce and want their child to be happy. So during the separation and after the divorce, they allow the child to do basically what the child wants when the child is in their care.

How to overcome this:

Even though it is natural for parents to feel guilt towards the children over the divorce, it is important to remember that the divorce does not in any way change a parent’s commitment to nurturing the child in the right manner. Being too lenient on the kids will turn them into spoilt brats. They will have no boundaries and will develop a sense of entitlement. This behaviour can prove damaging in the long term for both parent and child.

Image: @OutlishMagazine

Competitiveness

This occurs when separated parents feel the need to be better than their co-parent. They want to be their child’s favourite parent. They want the child to enjoy being in their company more than they do at their other parent’s place. When the co-parent does something for the child, the other parent will want to outdo them. Eventually, the children become aware of this competition between their parents and they use it to their advantage. They will manipulate and pit one parent against the other in order to get them to do their bidding. Soon enough, the parents will lose their parental control over their children.

How to overcome this:

Separated or divorced parents should strive to corporate rather than compete. Parenting is rarely about the parent but about the children. Decisions ought to be made about what’s best for the children instead of what will win the parent their children’s favor. It is okay for the children to be upset or angry at the parent for disciplining them when the need arises. They might not like them for it now, but they will appreciate it when the time comes.

Too strict

This path of parenting is usually adopted by a parent dealing with a co-parent that’s too lenient. Such parents feel like they have to correct or undo the ‘damage’ caused by the parent that’s too soft on the children. Unfortunately, the co-parent might end up taking the same course of parenting in a bid to undo or correct the damage done by the tough parent. And the confusing cycle of parenting will continue until it’s too late.

How to overcome this:

Parent’s need to keep in mind that they cannot transfer the differences that exist between them onto their children. Exposing the children to two or more opposite forms of parenting will only leave the children damaged and confused. Even though for a while the children’s favor will lean towards the parent that lets them get away with most things, eventually they will be let out into a society that has strict forms of expected behaviour and responsibility.

The role of parents is to prepare and equip the child mentally, physically, emotionally, as well as financially so they can eventually stand on their own, without the parental scaffolds. To reiterate, parenting should mostly be about what’s best for the child. It is not about what makes the parent or the child happy.

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