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Caroline Rules

Tips for a Single Mom with Young Kids

Caroline Manzo puts the real in The Real Housewives of New Jersey, and her fans relate to the reality star's no-nonsense attitude, focus on family and, above all, abundant common sense. Check back at Glo every Monday as Caroline helps solve your most pressing dilemmas.

The Dilemma: How did you manage to raise such respectful and disciplined children? You once mentioned the "iron hand," and I agree you have to be strict and firm ... it's just so tiring! My kids are ages 3, 7 and 10. I recently became a single mom and am having the toughest time. Any help would be greatly appreciated! —Sandra

Caroline's Ruling: First, let me say thank you for the compliment, Sandra. I'm a luck lady for sure. I've been blessed with three wonderful children, and believe me, I'm very grateful for that.

I think one of the biggest mistakes parents make today is giving their children too much leverage in the parent/child relationship. I understand and agree 100 percent that children have voices and they should be heard — however, there is a defining line on who is the parent and who is the child. You are the parent, you set the rules, and they should be obeyed. End of story.

Albert and I were also on the same page when it came to how we should raise our children. Believe it or not that's a pretty critical part of the equation. You need to be in sync with your partner for the most part, especially in front of your children. Don't ever let them feel they have a weak spot in one of you. Your children have to view you as a team, not separate entities. Make them understand that they can come and talk to you about anything, no matter how big or small, but at the end of the day you parent together as a team. If you are a single parent you still have to try and maintain some sort of dialogue with your ex regarding the children. I cannot stress this enough; the worst thing one parent can do is bad-mouth the other parent to their children. No one suffers but the children. I've seen it too many times and it's heartbreaking.

My children were never allowed to talk back, raise their voice or even look at us crooked. If they did, there were consequences, and when there was punishment we didn't waiver: We stuck to it and made them “serve their time.” Giving out a punishment and not seeing it through only shows them that they can do the crime but not the time. Bad, bad, bad. Also, when giving out punishment explain to your children why you're angry and why they're getting punished. Follow with an “I love you, but you're still in trouble!” Sometimes kids do things while not realizing what they're doing is wrong, and when you're angry they don't understand what exactly is so bad about what they did. I can't even begin to tell you how many times that happened in our lives. Again, open, honest communication is very important.

Talk to your children and listen when they speak. Ask questions and look at their faces. Their expressions say so much more than they will ever verbalize. When you are with them give them your undivided attention; make them know that your interaction with them is important to you, not just an exercise to pass the time. Never compare one to the other. They are individuals with their own personalities, individual strengths and weaknesses. Celebrate their strengths and help them build on their weaknesses in a positive, nurturing way.

Hugs, kisses, laughter, love, discipline and togetherness. Laugh through the good times and hug through the bad ones together as a unit. The bond between you all will be unbreakable.

I can go on and on for pages and pages, but hopefully this helps, Sandra. Good luck and kiss those babies!

Do you have a question for Caroline? Send it to CarolineRulesOnGlo@gmail.com and it may be selected for an upcoming column!

  • From marriage dilemmas to family issues, Caroline's got the answers!

    Photo by Michael T. Greco
Caroline Rules
Tips for a Single Mom with Young Kids
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