Whether you are a parent contemplating a divorce, a parent involved in an ongoing custody dispute, or a parent struggling to be cope after a divorce, one thing remains unchanged- you are the parent of a child who, now more than ever, needs you to be a source of strength and stability.
Parents are role models to their children at all times- even when you think your kids aren't looking (maybe even ESPECIALLY when you think they aren't looking!) And if you involved in a Texas custody dispute, then there are many OTHERS who are also evaluating your ability to be a role model to your child or children. Those who are carefully watching you can including your ex-spouse, his or her lawyer, attorney ad-litems, child protective services, grandparents, grandparents attorneys, custody evaluators, parent coordinators, mediators..and of course (and ultimately) the judge in your case.
The best way to appear to be the best parent you can be..is to ACTUALLY be the best parent you can be. You need to be an excellent example to your children because they learn by example. Aside from your legal case, you owe this to you children.
Here then are the top ten ways to be a great example to your children.
1. Live a Healthy Lifestyle
How can you say your are keeping your children healthy when your cupboards are filled with junk food and cookies, you watch T.V. for hours on end? By eating properly and getting regular exercise, it not only sets and example for our children but gives you the energy to play with them and be involved with their busy schedule. If you live a sedentary lifestyle, chances are your children will too. Childhood obesity has become an epidemic in American society which can lead to depression and disease. Be a healthy example for your kids by living a healthy lifestyle.
2. Improve Yourself Constantly
There is always something new in life and you need to be an example to your children to be a lifelong learner. You should always be looking to improve your "game" because your children will adopt that attitude too. Learn a new skill. Try a new activity. Explore whatever is exotic. Not only will you be a good example of a well lived life for your children, your own life will improve and will make you a happier parent.
3. Give Back To The Community
By going out and helping in the community, you will give your child a deeper sense of responsibility for, and attachment to a home and place. This is especially important if your are experiencing a time of upheaval in your family. One of children's greatest fears during divorce is that they will loose their place in the world. By making it a regular habit to get out in your community with your family and volunteer your time and talents your child will know they belong.
4. Open Up To Your Kids
You should NEVER share the details of your divorce with your children, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't let your children know who you really are. Children are looking to you give them the model of how to behave in society. And they will learn not only when you show them how you have successfully navigated life, but they also learn if you open up and show them how you overcame those times when you fell short of societies expectations. Do not hide who you are as a person to your children. Being strong means showing vulnerability. I am not saying you should talk about your divorce in detail or use your children as your own emotional crutch. But you can share your past experiences when it is appropriate: mistakes and victories. Take your children to work with you and let them see your daily life. Let them see how you interact with other adults and how you carry yourself.
5. Maintain Self-Control
If you are involved in a legal battle, you will be stressed as never before. Releasing your emotions, whatever they may be, is healthy and will reduce stress. However NEVER do that in front of your children. If you allow yourself to loose your cool in front of your kids, it will damage them psychologically, will damage your relationship with them, and may very well damage your law suit. Every healthy adult should have enough self-control to not regularly blow up in front of their children. If you can't- then you need to seek out help such as a counselor or therapist.
6. Right Relationships
We have many important relationships and not all of them are going to be pleasant. Maybe there are issues with your parents, stepparents, brothers, sisters, or ex-wife. Forgive and give grace. Seek to be right in your relationships over being right. Make it as hard as possible for anyone to say anything bad about you. Be an initiator and take always personal responsibility first.
7. Respect and Listening
If you want to teach your kids how to be confident, it starts with showing them respect for who they are and listening to their own unique thoughts. This is a tough aspect of leadership, but the best leaders listen carefully and talk far less. Open your mind and your ears to what your children are telling you. They will, in turn, learn to do the same later in life.
8. Positive Attitude
There is plenty of negativity to be found in society today. Do not add to the daily chorus your child experiences. Instead, display a positive and reassuring attitude and optimism. They need to be able to look at you and know that you are a believer and not a cynic.
9. Goal Setting
Setting goals is important to give us a benchmark of where we are going and the progress we are making. Implementing and achieving those goals are of equal importance. When our kids see us moving along exactly according to plan, it shows them the importance of organization and self-discipline in their daily life. Help them come up with their own set of goals and praise them when the goals are met.
10. Walk the Talk
The single most important aspect of being your children’s role model is to always say what you mean and mean what you say. Walk the talk. Back up your words with visible and concrete action and be a man of integrity and value. Actions speak volumes. “Well done is better than well said.” – Benjamin Franklin
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Attorney Sean Y. Palmer has over 20 years of legal experience as a Texas Attorney and over 25 years as a Qualified Mediator in civil, family and CPS cases. Palmer practices exclusively in the area Family Law and handles Divorce, Child Custody, Child Support, Adoptions, and other Family Law Litigation cases. He represents clients throughout the greater Houston Galveston area, including: Clear Lake, NASA, Webster, Friendswood, Seabrook, League City, Galveston, Texas City, Dickinson, La Porte, La Marque, Clear Lake Shores, Bacliff, Kemah, Pasadena, Baytown, Deer Park, Harris County, and Galveston County, Texas.