Tough talks about relationships

One of the changes we wanted to make with Science of Parenting was the idea of being able to talk to children about tough topics – especially around relationships. At times we struggle just talking to other adults about tough relationship topics (ie. divorce, co-parenting, broken relationships), so might we be able to say that it is ‘normal’ to struggle with talking with children about tough relationship topics?

If you haven’t had a chance to check out our resources in “Parenting in Challenging Moments” I would encourage you to do so. Parenting isn’t easy and THAT is the reality. Divorce, co-parenting and broken relationships aren’t easy either but we do need to take the time to talk with children about them.

Our hope is that the resources available here may help you start a conversation as you work through the difficulties.

Lori Hayungs, M.S.

Lori Hayungs, M.S.

Mother of three. Lover of all things child development related. Fascinated by temperament and brain development. Professional background with families, child care providers, teachers and community service entities.

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Wrapping it with a Bow

One of Donna’s comments really made me think…”but you don’t know my ex”. I felt like that statement took this month’s topic and wrapped it with a bow.

Isn’t it hard to take some things (people) out of difficult equations? Donna’s comment reminded me that ultimately there is only one thing I know to be true. I can only control and change the thoughts, actions and behaviors of myself. And no matter what my children will have to come first. (ok that’s 2 things).

As I reflect on the topic this month I think that is the statement to land on. No matter what- YOU are the only one you can change and control. Regardless of the actions and behaviors your ex displays you have to think about what behaviors and actions your children will see from you.

Your children will be watching and looking to you as to how they should respond in this difficult situation. They will follow your lead and their actions, thoughts and behaviors will mirror yours. What will they see?

We would love to here what statement impacted you most this month.

Lori Hayungs, M.S.

Lori Hayungs, M.S.

Mother of three. Lover of all things child development related. Fascinated by temperament and brain development. Professional background with families, child care providers, teachers and community service entities.

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Who Gets the Kids for the Summer?

School is out and now the summer fun begins. But if the kids have two homes, it might not be so much fun. There may be family vacations and family reunions and softball/baseball games and 4-H events and camps and – well you get the idea.

So who decides where the kids will be? Last weekend I was at a baseball game and heard a dad talking about vacations. His family, with kids from different marriages, had a summer trip planned. Then he found out one child’s mom had other plans and her wishes ruled. This sounded like the beginning of vacation wars and not the fun that all had in mind.

Well parents, it’s time to revisit the concept of co-parenting. Now is the time to sit down and talk with your child’s other parent about summer plans. Get out the calendar and pencil in all the events that involve your child. Go into the conversation with the idea of making this work. Share any “absolute” dates and explain why you want your child for that time. Be willing to compromise and not insist on your way for everything. Offer to take your child more frequently or be the “taxi” on occasion.

I know you’re probably thinking – “but you don’t know my ex.” And I don’t! But I do know that kids want to enjoy the summer. They want to spend time with both parents and the extended families. They want to hang out with their friends. They want to just “be” and not find themselves in the middle of arguments over who gets them when.

How do you plan summer schedules when two households are involved? What’s worked for your family?

Donna Donald

Donna Donald

Donna Donald is a Human Sciences specialist for Iowa State University Extension and Outreach who has spent her career working with families across the lifespan. She believes families are defined by function as well as form. Donna entered parenthood as a stepmother to three daughters and loves being a grandmother of seven young adults.

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The Other Parent

When I was growing up, I don’t remember hearing much about divorce. I had one friend in high school whose parents were divorced, but it was never mentioned. Fast forward to years later and you guessed it – I married a divorced man with three young children. So I’ve had the first hand opportunity to see the “after divorce” world from both a personal and professional perspective.

The podcast started with the statement about divorce not being one point in time, but is ongoing. And I say, no truer words could be said. When children are involved, the divorce may end the marriage but the relationships and interactions continue literally for a lifetime.

If you’re a parent in the midst of a divorce, or are raising children after a divorce, how do you make it work? I latched on to the phrase – paths to healthy outcomes – and how there are two that work. Most everything else leads to negative outcomes. Those paths are divorced parents working together as warm co-parents or as professional co-parents.

Here’s my take on how professional co-parents work. The adults don’t’ have to be friends but their priority is to do what is best for the kids. They may not agree on how to raise their kids, but they manage to keep conflict under control. These parents try to share decisions and child rearing tasks. Although there is a custody agreement, the parents apply some flexibility and common sense. The professional co-parents see that both parents have a relationship with their kids.

As I look back, I realize our family functioned with professional co-parents (most of the time). No one will tell you it is an easy way to parent. However, the payoff for the kids is tremendous. The stress of the divorce is reduced; children have fewer long-term problems; and they can develop close relationships with both parents and extended family members.

Anyone want to share ideas that work for professional co-parents?

Donna Donald

Donna Donald

Donna Donald is a Human Sciences specialist for Iowa State University Extension and Outreach who has spent her career working with families across the lifespan. She believes families are defined by function as well as form. Donna entered parenthood as a stepmother to three daughters and loves being a grandmother of seven young adults.

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