Parenting with a Heart

by Madeline M. Muise, MSW, LSCW

Although February is a few weeks behind us, it often signifies a short, cold month that is punctuated by Valentine’s Day. If you are in the middle of a divorce or recently divorced, this time of year may only add salt to the wounds as this reminder of that romantic love can be painful.

How can you shift your feelings during this bleak time of year?

Turn your attention to those you do love in your life – your children. It can be a tough time of year for them, too.

When parents are struggling to cope, feeling anxious, depressed or overwhelmed, children are left to handle this upheaval in their life on their own.  Children often hide their feelings of pain to protect their parents.

What’s a parent to do?

Here are some suggestions that I share with my clients:

1)    Establish routine in your home. Have a family meeting to talk about changes. Elicit ideas from your children and ask for their opinion. Don’t be afraid to ask children to help with chores, as well. Research shows that children of divorce develop a sense of responsibility from contributing to the running of the home.

2)    Discipline with love. Children feel more secure when they have limits.  Remember that the divorce is not the cause of all bad behavior. Don’t let the children get away with behavior you would not have tolerated before the divorce. Compassionate discipline requires energy and discernment.

3)   Spend time alone with each child. I know you’re super busy as a single parent. Time doesn’t have to mean a couple of hours or half a day. Time alone can be the 10 minute   ride to basketball practice or a slice of pizza after grocery shopping. Make time each day to check in with your child to see how their day is going to let them know that they are a    priority.

While February can signify a dreary time while going through a time of transition, it doesn’t have to stay that way. Warm up February with hugs from your hearts’ and treasure your children.

About Madeline Muise, LCSW, Director Mediation and Therapy Associates, LLC:

Mediation and Therapy Associates specializes in helping you create a fulfilling life. We help you identify goals and develop skills to establish rewarding relationships with partners/spouses, your children, extended family and community.

Personally, I received my Bachelor’s degree from the College of St. Rose and a Master’s in Social Work from Rutgers’ the State University. In addition, I also have postgraduate training in the following areas:

Family Systems Therapy
Divorce Mediation, Winston Salem, North Carolina
Advanced Mediation Training, Montclair, New Jersey and Florida
Parent Coordination Training with Robin Deutch, PhD.
Collaborative Law Training

I am married, have adult children and grandchildren. My hobbies include travel, sailing and the arts.

For more information, please go to my website at:

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *