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Can kids handle rule variations between divorced parents?

On Behalf of | Mar 9, 2023 | Child Custody |

One of the positives of divorcing is that you become free to do things the way you want to. But what about when you have kids? You may have read that children need stability and that constant boundaries help to provide it. Does that mean you need to agree to one set of rules for the children?

Here are some rules you probably should keep the same as your spouse, if implementing parallel rule structures is possible under the circumstances.

Rules concerning school

What you need to avoid is a difference in attitude between you becoming a problem for the children and their teachers. You both must ensure your child attends school as they should and complies with the rules. One parent allowing a child to skip days or homework will quickly become problematic.

Rules concerning drugs, alcohol, sex and so on

This can be a difficult one, especially when the parents have wildly different ideas about what is acceptable. However, these are difficult areas for teens to negotiate, and knowing there are clear boundaries in place can help them greatly. It provides safety and allows them to gracefully back out of dangerous situations by saying, “My parents will kill me.” If their friends know only one parent would prohibit it, they may pressure the child to go ahead and keep their behavior a secret from the other parent, which is not healthy for anyone.

What if you can’t agree on anything?

Most other things are less consequential if there is variation between households. Sometimes, it’s better to accept that you will never see eye to eye and that arguing about rules will do more harm to you and your children than just leaving your children to negotiate two different sets of household rules.

Working out whether you can coparent or whether you need to each do things your way without reproaching the other –  known as parallel parenting – should be part of your custody discussion.