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Making the most of parenting time

While the term "broken home" is simply meant to indicate a family in which the parents are divorced, the phrase nonetheless has an extremely negative connotation. The fact that studies show that children tend to thrive in households where both parents are present is seemingly irrefutable (indeed, information shared by the online life science publication STAT shows that children who are allotted equal access of 35 percent of their time with each parent perform better academically, socially and psychologically). However, that does not mean that children from divorced homes cannot succeed in the important areas of life. 

The U.S. Census Bureau reports that as of 2013, over 26 percent of children and teens in the U.S. lived in households that meet the definition of a broken home. Yet the fact that a quarter of America's youth is not running rampant in the streets due to a lack of parental influence shows that divorced parents can still find success in raising their kids. The key to doing so is optimizing their parenting time. 

Parents who make the most of their parenting time understand that there is a difference between staying together and spending time together. Continuing to cultivate healthy relationships with one's children after divorce requires the latter. Some suggestions that can help divorced parents get the most out of their parenting time include: 

  • Planning one's own schedule around their children's availability 
  • Volunteering to participate in the children's activities (e.g., coach a baseball, chaperone a field trip)
  • Listening (and respecting) the children's wishes

Of course, the final example becomes more important as children age. One must realize that a delicate balance must be struck between respecting their children's wishes and caving to their every demands. Finding that results in a respectful relationship where a parent maintains authority. 

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Robert Schembs
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Indianapolis, IN 46204

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