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Needs of Grieving Children: Consistency

from Never the Same: Coming to Terms with the Death of a Parent

by Donna Schuurman

So many things change after a parent's death, especially if the deceased parent was living with you at the time of his or her death. If your parents were divorced and you did not live with the parent who died, your day-to-day changes may have been fewer than they'd been if you lived together. Either way, your world was rocked and changed, and one of the ways that could help you restore balance was for your surviving parent to stay consistent and minimize other changes in your life to the best of his or her ability. As previously discussed, many widowed parents who are raising their children alone for the first time become lax or overrestrictive in applying rules and discipline. The Harvard Child Bereavement Study, among others, found that bereaved children and adolescents whose surviving parent did not provide consistency in discipline were more aggressive, had less impulse control, and exhibited more behavioral problems.

Did your parent's parenting style, particularly in the boundaries and rules set for you, change following your parent's death? If they were stricter, or more lax, you may have chafed under the imposed change. If you were raised by someone other than a parent, how did their child-rearing styles affect you?

*Donna Schuurman is the Executive Director of The Dougy Center, a children's grief support program in Portland, Oregon and the source of excellent resources on grief and loss. www.dougy.org

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