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Children Of Divorce Can Be Successful
Children of divorce typically fall into the "At-Risk" category. They are statistically predicted to be challenged in life. Statistics can be wrong. Children of all walks of life can be as successful as they want to be, given the opportunity. The children of single parents who work hard to give their children a good future can grow into strong, responsible adults who contribute to society. It all depends upon the efforts and diligence of their parents. It begins by teaching your child that their future is in their own hands.
Simple Steps Build Success
Raising successful children begins with teaching them that there are consequences to every action. Some actions have positive consequences and some actions have negative consequences. A child who does not learn about the natural consequences of their actions never seems to become responsible. They believe they can do anything without considering the effects of their actions on others. They end up spoiled and alone. Children who experience the natural consequences of their actions learn to think about what they are doing and what the potential outcome could be. They begin to become thinkers. When they experience the consequences and it is negative, they become problem solvers. For example, a child who spills their milk and mom cleans the mess will not learn to be more careful. A child who spills their milk and is handed a towel to clean it up, then taught to put it in the laundry, will learn to be more careful. It may take more than one spill, but eventually, the child will problem-solve either a better place to put the milk, or a more careful set of movements when drinking milk. Either way it is a winning solution! The first child learns......nothing.
Next, give your child choices regularly. Make every possible action a choice if possible. Which shirt will you wear today, the red one or the yellow one? Which door should we use to go outside, the front door or the back door? What would you like to eat for dinner, tacos or pizza? A child who regularly makes choices is not afraid of making decisions later in life. They will learn to consider the decision such as: the red one is hot and the yellow one is better. The front door is closer to the mailbox, the tacos are faster to fix. Each decision leads to learning something. Point it out to your child. Teach them about making decisions early on and they will be more successful and confident when they must make decisions later in life. In giving choices, be sure to restrict those choices to a few selections that are okay with you. Giving the child boundaries from which to choose and sticking to those restrictions will also help them to become productive adults. We are expected to follow guidelines within our jobs and communities. We are allowed to make our own choices within boundaries. For example, a child who is allowed to choose ANY food for dinner, may have you running all over town. A child given two or three choices will not have that option. Joey may choose to eat from Sonic or Dairy Queen. Joey screams, "I want Wendy's!" and you rush to Wendy's. This teaches Joey NOTHING! If Joey is told, "Sorry, that is not a choice....Sonic or Dairy Queen?" then he will learn to function within boundaries. Granted, he more than likely will not do so willingly the first few times, but if you are consistent, then he will begin to follow through by choosing appropriately. Eventually, you will not have to work through the "It's not a choice" part, he will already know that you mean what you say. Later in life when a supervisor gives him a choice in tasks, he will not push to do something completely inappropriate. He will be able to make a choice quickly and move forward. This will help him to become a successful adult one day.
Reinforce With Positive Praise And Actions
A child diligently seeks out attention. All children, everywhere. Give your child reinforcement with positive praise and follow through with positive actions and they will intentionally behave well over and over again. When your child makes a good decision, stop what you are doing, look them in the eye on their level, tell them you are glad, proud, happy, even relieved! Then follow through with a positive action such as a high five, a pat on the back, a hug or a photo of their accomplishment. The double praise will act as a huge reinforcement of that good decision!
These children become aware that good behavior pays. They learn to go the extra mile, work the extra 10 minutes, give the extra effort for their teachers, employers and families. They become the adults who know the value of working hard to do right. Teach them to reward themselves and they have the world on a string!! Have them say, "I did it! I worked hard and I made it happen!" They will feel the pride and confidence that a job well done provides. If they learn that at a young age, it will stay with them throughout their adult life as well.
How do I know this will work? I have three children that were 6, 3 1/2 and 1 year olds when I left and eventually divorced their father. I was a single mom for 8 years, during which I worked, was laid off, went to college, opened my own business, and eventually remarried. They went through a lot of transitions with me including moving to another state, a couple of hours away from their father. I received cash assistance from the state, food stamps and HUD assistance as well, for about a year of that time. My children were what would have been considered "At-Risk" on several levels: poverty, divorce, children of an alcoholic (father). All of these events occured before they were 6 years old which is considered the most impressionable years for a child. Children who live through these crisises during those formative years are predicted to fail. My children did NOT fail, have NOT failed and WILL NOT fail. They have the tools to make good decisions in life and are strong, smart, confident adults who are good citizens. My daughter is a full time graduate student working on her Master's Degree while teaching Middle School Language Arts and Math in a public school. She is doing this while raising 6 children and sponsoring the Middle School Cheerleaders. My oldest son is a United States Marine Corporal who is currently serving overseas. I cannot say much about his position due to security issues, but I will say he is well thought of by commanders and men in his command. My youngest son is working on his Criminal Justice degree and plans to attend the police academy as soon as he turns 21. He is a salesman and full time college student who is living on his own! They are all independent, employed, successful adults who are taking care of themselves AND others. They are making good choices within the boundaries of society and are contributing positively to their communities! It works...they are the proof!
Where Are They Now?
A simple update to this hub and a reminder that success is all about the belief that each child holds that they are capable to reach out and obtain any goal they are willing to set for themselves.
My daughter graduated in December with her Master's Degree as a Reading Specialist. She is enrolling in classes to begin on her Doctorate. She is still teaching Middle School full-time, raising children, keeping house, teaching at a Junior College and working out getting back into the same size she was in high school!! So PROUD of you, O daughter of mine!!
My oldest son just re-enlisted in the United States Marine Corps. He will be serving for an additional 5 years. He is undergoing a job change in the service and will be attending classes to increase his security level and obtain his Bachelor's Degree. I will need to buy stock in a hair dye company to keep me looking young! His sweet wife is ever present at his side and attending Nursing School! He was just promoted to Sergent! Oh yeah, he is also attending Bible College! Another child that I am DEEPLY proud of.....Semper Fi!
My youngest, like his siblings, has obtained his goals and is working on ever improving himself and his life. He has completed the Police Academy and was hired by one of the best Law Enforcement Departments in our area BEFORE graduating! He is on patrol and leading his department in stops, tickets and arrests. He is enrolling in classes to complete his Bachelor's degree while working! I am PROUD of him and all he has accomplished! He is AMAZING!!
Overachievers, I think not!! They just know how important it is to continue to keep moving forward. They are NOT afraid to try, fail, try, succeed, succeed, SUCCEED! I am totally AMAZED by my children and all they have accomplished. At-risk children from a broken home. Wow. I think NOT! Successful, focused adults who are productive, contributing members of their communities.
Photo and Text Copyright 2011 Deborah M. Carey