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ey-Keith, with 20 years of experience work- ing with families in crisis in Northwest Georgia. “Even if it’s hard, it’s particularly important for divorced parents to be con- sistent and on the same page. Otherwise, it creates stress for the entire family, adding more confusion to a child’s life when the noncustodial parent allows something the custodial parent doesn’t.”


Be positive, honest, flexible,


reasonable and understanding. “It is key to explain things to children and to listen to them,” says Evenson’s daugh- ter, Cristen Olsen, of Seattle, who raised her daughter using her family’s guiding principles, and now uses them as a nanny.


“It helps them learn how to process situ- ations and find their own resolutions to difficult problems.” Olsen says she becomes a mediator


when the siblings she cares for don’t agree.


“We solve the problem together by hearing all sides, talking through the issues and reaching for understanding. Many times, the kids come up with their own solutions.”


Provide meaningful bound-


aries and restrictions. Kids typi- cally push to find their limits. “Establish limits and boundaries when children are young,” says Cooley-Keith. “Tey will be more accepting of rules if you establish them earlier, rather than later. Most oſten, boundaries provide security for kids.”


Accept their point of view. Even-


son always encouraged her children to voice their opinions. “Tis is a great point,” says Hogin. “For children to learn to have opin- ions and speak out, we must value what they say. We don’t have to agree with everything they say, but should listen and encourage them to find their voice and use their words.”


Trust children. “Believe in them,” af-


firms Evenson. “Be on their side. Let them feel your support and love.”


Don’t nag. “We all want children to


develop their own sense of responsibility,” Olsen says. “I find making strong eye con- tact reinforces my words, so I don’t have to nag or repeat myself oſten.”


Be available, rather than put-


ting kids on the spot in public. “If you correct or redirect a child in front of


others, they will probably be focused on being embarrassed and fail to understand the lesson or reasoning a parent is trying to project,” says Hogin. “Taking a step back and working out an issue one-on-one is usually more appropriate and effective.”


Maintain good habits. Evenson


emphasizes the character strength that comes from observing and practicing good habits and healthy lifestyles that avoids gos- sip and incorporates creative exploration


of life. Tis includes “Doing everything in love,” she notes. Such all-encompassing love balances love for our own children with love for all children and respect for all life.


Be patient with yourself. “No one


is perfect,” Evenson remarks. “Just do your best. Guide, console and discipline while keeping a sense of humor.”


Connect with the freelance writer at AmberNagle.com.


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May 2018 37


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