July 14, 2014
I just wish they’d stop screaming at each other!
What can I say about parents divorcing that you don’t already know from personal experience or what you’ve observed? Probably nothing. For the couple involved, divorce is one of life’s major upheavals (second only to Death of a Spouse). The whole family feels the impact of divorce and its aftershocks, but adults and kids process it differently.
Young children are very egocentric. As long as their moment-to-moment needs continue to be met, they’re less aware of what’s going on in the family. They’re also not skilled at “covering up.” If they feel tension between Mom and Dad, they will let behave in ways that let everyone know “I’m not happy!” Parents will respond, as best as they can, by comforting the children and/or distracting them. It usually works pretty well.
Teens, on the other hand, are often more distressed by divorce than their younger siblings, and more likely to mask their emotions. Without letting on what’s going on, Mom and Dad might assume their teens are “OK” when they are far from it. Why do teens hide their feelings? Because they don’t:
a) know how to express the intensity of their emotions (ager, sadness, confusion, guilt, fear, etc.)
b) want to add to their parents’ problems
c) want to get yelled at
d) want to choose sides
e) want to show that they’re not “mature enough” to handle what’s going on
f) all of the above
On this week’s Family Confidential video podcast, I talk with Wendy Young, child and adolescent therapist and founder of Kidlutions. We discuss pragmatic parenting tips for helping kids of all ages navigate the emotional challenges of divorce. - Listen here
June 30, 2014
Give peace a chance
In addition to raising young adults who chew with mouth closed, pick up after themselves, and return library books on time, the gold ring of this parenting gig (after the “under the same roof” phase ends) is a healthy relationship with your adult kids. I’ve been a mom for 34 years and believe me, that’s what you’re after. But how do you get there from here? It can be a hard slog. Especially if you’re currently the parent of a tween or teen and already clocking in way too much time yelling and mis-communicating. It’s stressful enough when they’re in school most of the day, but now it’s summer and said t(w)een may be hanging out under said roof. Result? More time for fault-finding on both sides. yippee. But it doesn’t have to be this way. You can be the change-agent your parent-teen dynamic needs. Here’s how…
Parenting plan for getting along better with your t(w)een
1. Sit down and ask your child: What would you like me to do less of this summer? Make the question sincere and make it safe for your child to answer honestly. Whatever he or she says, stay calm and do not get defensive. This conversation has the potential of greatly improving your relationship.
2. Take what you’ve heard to heart. If you want to teach your kids to be respectful of others you must treat their feelings and thoughts with respect. If you need a clarification, ask for it. “You say you want me to nag less? Gee, I don’t think I nag at all. Please give me an example of what you mean, sweetie.”
3. Work together to address the request. After you understand your child’s request, see what new ways you can come up with to lessen the unwanted behavior (e.g.. nagging). Relationships are a two-way street. If there is a ‘nagger’ there must also be a “nagging-inducer.” Explore both sides of all issues.
4. Monitor your progress. Once you’ve identified a problem and strategized a solution check in with each other periodically to see how you’re feeling about the changes. Praise where praise is due. Make modifications when needed.
5. Reverse the flow. It’s a two-way street, remember? So give yourself a chance to tell your t(w)een something you’d like less of from him or her. Follow the rest of the steps and see how it goes.
Good luck! I hope this helps you and your family this summer.
June 9, 2014
Can someone give me a hand? I’ve run out!
Today we’re talking about working moms, which, of course, includes all moms whether we’re on a payroll or not. Wiping snotty noses is work. So is helping with homework, especially if it’s hard. Each day we show up and put our hearts into everything we do for our families. Yay, us! Now can we please have Mother’s Day at least once a month? Cause, dammit, I deserve it, and you do too!
So, we are all working, but let’s imagine, just for the next few paragraphs, that “working mom” means working outside the home. Maybe with a commute and a special wardrobe. Of course, each family is unique, but there is one challenge shared by all working moms– the need for more time. No, let me rephrase that. It’s not lack of time. (Though 20 more minutes to soak in the tub with the door locked would be nice.) According to Dr. Portia Jackson, bona fide rocket scientist (for real), founder of WorkingMotherhood.com, and this week’s guest on Family Confidential, “Even if we had 30 hours in a day we’d still find things to fill it up with. So it’s not just lack of time, it’s using your time wisely.”
Amen, sister! Managing time wisely rewards us with bonus time to breathe, and smile, and sort Legos by color… without rushing. Wouldn’t it nice not to rush around? Portia agrees and promises this “not rushing” state is actually attainable… in your lifetime! Here’s her advice: Quit trying to do it all. You can’t. No one can. Successful working moms who can relax and be at home when they are home, know how to delegate.
Intrigued? Then go ahead and delegate whatever you were going to do next, pour a cup, put your feet up, and listen in on my conversation with Portia Jackson. You so need this.