Proactive parenting: Examples in co-parenting promoting communication, trust and stability
Posted By Scroggins Family Law || 20-June-2016 — Being proactively involved in your child’s academics, emotional growth, extracurricular activities, health and spiritual well-being fosters communication, trust and stability…
Being proactively involved in your child’s academics, emotional growth, extracurricular activities, health and spiritual well-being fosters communication, trust and stability. Children are usually highly curious and sensitive to their perceptions of their world, from their perspective. Parents who proactively approach their children’s health and well-being have an opportunity to create the security a child needs to take on the world and grow without the trappings of daily life. Everywhere the child goes, they will feel safe and secure if their parent properly manages the environment and expectations. When a parent takes a proactive approach to their children, their appropriate control in the situation promotes a sense of trust and stability, and when the child feels stable and trusts you, they are more likely to communicate openly, and the parent can best receive and use that feedback. It is important to put yourself ahead of the child in time and place, to manage expectations in advance. Children can sense when their parent is many steps ahead of them and they can feel assured that everything will be well in control. Proactive parenting, by married and divorced co-parents is appreciated by the other members of the family as well as others with whom the parent and child frequently interact.
Practicing proactive parenting is important when both parents are married and co-parenting, and it is equally important when co-parents are separated or divorced. A key to effective co-parenting is communicating your expectations and plans with the other parent, so that ideally, a cooperative effort is not disrupted by mixed messages. For example, if a child has a firm bedtime with dad, then mom should also enforce a firm bedtime. Agreed co-parenting plans should address consistency in rulemaking and parenting styles, to the extent the child best interests are prioritized.
Examples of proactive co-parenting in your child’s academics, emotional growth, extracurricular activities, health and spiritual well-being:
Whether children are straight “A” students or are challenged in their studies, there plenty of opportunities for parents to take the educational bull by the horns. Knowing what your child is studying, when their tests are, and how they relate with their teachers is key to being in a position of knowledge and control. Instead of waiting for teachers to contact you, for example, reach out to them first. Talk to your child about their studies and ask what they like and what they find challenging. Through talking about academics, you may find a window into what stimulates your child’s mind, then make plans outside of school to foster those interests.
2. Emotional Growth
From time to time a mental health professional can be neutral party for a child to talk with and share their thoughts and feelings they do not otherwise want to tell mom or dad. Being proactive may include asking your child if they like counselors or if they have opinions about them? Creating an environment where the child can participate and offer their thoughts and questions, can lead to a dialogue about they are doing. Without prying for information, but rather making it feel safe to communicate about emotions, can help your child feel secure in knowing they do not have to talk about it, and that you will be there to listen.
3. Extracurricular Activities
Proactive co-parents and their children often cherish extracurricular activities such as sports, music and summer camps. The way we watch our children form and manage relationships with other children can be a reflection on our parenting methods. If your child plays sports, try talking to them about what they like and dislike about various positions they play and the other kids on the team, or the coach. Ideally, if you can get to know the coach, and further reinforce the sense of earning respect from them and the other players, you can be a working extension of your child’s extracurricular world. Some proactive topics to discuss may be decisions on sticking with activities, or trying new ones. Making your child feel reasonably in control of their lives is important to their sense of security.
Nowadays there are enough health concerns to drive a parent up the wall, trying to make sure their child is in good physical shape and if necessary, receives the right medication and treatment for any present conditions. The decision between pharmaceutical medication and other holistic sources of care for hyper activity, concentration and other health challenges can be a point of contention among co-parents and children. While it is important to let the child know you and their other parent are the bosses, and not them, it is also important to seek feedback from the child. If you have fostered a stable, trusting line of communication with your child, they are more likely to be honest with you about health issues. Letting your child know health concerns are not their fault or doing is also key in assuring they feel safe talking to you without fear of judgment.
5. Spiritual well-being
How to be proactive and fair as a co-parent when it comes to spirituality and religion is one of the most compelling challenges to parents and children. How a child is raised and how co-parents approach spirituality can be the best or the worst experience. Whether to allow a child to explore their own thoughts and feelings about their existence and the world around them, versus dictating how they perceive and believe, should be discussed and ideally agreed between co-parents. Major life changes including birth and death present opportunities to encourage dialogue with your child. Asking open-ended questions allows a parent a window into how their child sees life and death. You can tell your child how you feel about spirituality and that can encourage more questions and dialogue. Remember that a child’s sense of fantasy is often different from their parent, and subject to frequent change. When you focus on open communication, stability and trust, your child will likely open up to you.
Encouraging children to explore their world, talk about it and not be judged, is important to their overall sense of security and well-being. However, this does not mean you must be a “helicopter parent” or let your child make the rules and run your life. Being the boss and setting expectations as a parent and co-parent is absolutely key, and when you set those expectations and take a proactive parenting role, you often raise a stable child who can be a role model for other siblings, family and friends.
Mark Scroggins, along with their team at
Scroggins Family Law promote healthy co-parenting, with a focus on being proactive in your child’s mental and emotional development and well-being.
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