Rules for Children of Divorce

Different Homes – Different Rules?

by: Michele Sfakianos, RN, BSN

It can be very hard for parents to establish clear rules they agree on when they live in the same home. This becomes even more of a challenge after a divorce.

Yet you aren’t doing your children any favors when they have two sets of rules going on. They will use them to their advantage in many instances. You will also find that it gets to be confusing for younger children to follow.

In reality, you and your ex-spouse aren’t going to agree on all the rules for the children in both households. That is a war that very few people will ever win. Yet you can do your part by attempting to come to a compromise on those that are very important for you as well as for the well-being of your children. It is a good idea to write down the rules so that everyone knows what it to be expected.

For example you may find that you really do want to establish a set rule relating to bed time at both homes. This way your children will be in a set routine and it is easier for them to adjust to the various changes that take place when they move from one home to the next.

Curfews are also one rule that you want to have in place for both homes. Otherwise your children will start to venture to spend more time with the parent who gives them the most freedom. This can result in some very serious problems for you as well as your children down the road.

The rules that are established for both households aren’t going to be set in stone. Sometimes those rules will be in the favor of the children. For example, you may be giving them a later bed time or curfew due to being responsible and getting older. Others may tighten the reigns somewhat such as limiting TV or video game time. It will depend on what issues you are facing with your own children.

Too many parents tend to feel so bad that their children are in the middle of the divorce that they become extremely lenient. They don’t set boundaries as they don’t want to upset their children. They also don’t want to be looked at as the “Mean One” as compared to the other parent. Yet children do crave boundaries and rules even if they won’t tell you so.

Never bend the rules that you and your spouse have agreed upon for both households. Doing so is going to create more problems for you than it is worth. The other parent is eventually going to find out and they will likely be both hurt and angry over it.

Establishing very clear rules for children when you are divorced is a very important part of keeping everyone happy.

Michele Sfakianos, RN, BSN, is a contributing expert for Hope After Divorce and Divorce Support Center. She is a registered Nurse, Life Skills Expert, Speaker, and Award Winning Author. She is the owner of Open Pages Publishing, which includes her series of “The 4-1-1” books on Life Skills, Step Parenting, and Surviving Teenhood. Michele is a contributing expert for,,, and