Rosalind Sedacca gives us insight into today's topic.
Older children have a longer history in the former family unit, regardless of how healthy or toxic it has been. Perhaps they remember better times when Mom and Dad interacted with them and each other with more joy and harmony. Even if there were no good times to look back upon, older children were accustomed to the existing family dynamic, knew their place in the structure, and felt a sense of comfort in “what is.”
Resisting change is a natural part of being human.
Resisting change is a natural part of being human. For teenagers that resistance is compounded by a tendency to test boundaries and rock the status quo. Divorce or separation naturally makes all children feel powerless over their circumstances. For teens, who are feeling their oats and less likely to listen to parental authority, this is especially hard to accept.
more permissive, taking advantage of the weakened parental structure to try to get away with more rebellious behaviors. Some teens choose to side with the more powerful parent – often Dad – to bolster their sense of security, even if they were emotionally closer to Mom.
Anger is a common reaction from older children.
Anger is a common reaction from older children. If they are not given the opportunity to vent, express their feelings and be heard, this anger often manifests as physical rebellion, drug or alcohol abuse or other inappropriate behaviors. To complicate matters, communication is often more difficult with teens who are acting out because they are usually less talkative, more likely to keep their feelings held in and more moody than their younger siblings.
With this in mind, how can parents bridge this communication and
credibility gap with their older children?
Amy Sherman, a therapist in private practice who has dealt extensively with troubled teen populations, makes these suggestions:
* Make your family a democracy. That means opening the door to listening to and “hearing” your older children, even if you don’t like what they are saying. Kids need to know they can express themselves without being disciplined or made wrong. At the same time, she warns against being too permissive which inevitably leads to exploitation from teens who are always testing their boundaries.
*Whenever possible, both Mom and Dad should talk to the teen together, discussing issues as honestly as is appropriate. All children are natural manipulators. Don’t let separation or divorce give them the opportunity to divide and conquer. Mom and Dad talking to the kids together, on the same page regarding family rules and values, is your best insurance for keeping older children as allies. Co-parenting after the divorce is your optimum goal. When that is not possible, keeping both parents in their parental roles goes a long way toward maintaining stability within a transforming family structure.
*Children need and actually appreciate structure, even teens. It creates the security they crave, especially at challenging times. Try to maintain boundaries as close to the pre-divorce reality as possible. When both parents share basic guidelines and agreements within the family structure, regardless of which house the children are in, they will feel safer and more secure. Your children will also feel more cared about and loved which is vitally important as the family moves into unknown changes and transitions.
*Remember, children of all ages mirror what they see. If your children are acting out, look within the family system for the cause. Get the help you need in making internal changes, and they are more likely to follow suit. At the same time, be patient, tolerant and understanding with yourself and everyone else within your family. This too shall pass!
Rosalind Sedacca, Certified Divorce Coach is the founder of the Child-Centered Divorce Network, a Divorce & Co-Parenting Coach and author of the acclaimed ebook, How Do I Tell The Kids About the Divorce? A Create-a-Storybook Guide To Preparing Your Children -- With Love! She has founded CHILD-CENTERED DIVORCE MONTH in January.To get her free ebook, coaching services, expert interviews, programs, e-courses and other valuable resources on divorce and co-parenting, visit: http://www.childcentereddivorce.com
Do you have a divorce experience to share? Have you been shamed by a church because of your divorce? There are hurting people who need to hear your story, who need to know they are not alone, and who need to be encouraged. If you are interested in sharing your story, email Linda for guidelines: Linda@LindaMKurth.com
I welcome your comments and feedback.
Divorce: The Struggle and a Win
I'm pleased to introduce Kelly Wilson as my guest blogger today. Kelly is a writer and comedian who isn't afraid to share her struggles with PTSD and her recent divorce. I believe some of you can relate.
Divorce: The Struggle and a Win
I've been thinking a lot about how it's the smallest things that bring me down in grief. Like stepping on that tiny Lego or the cat puke in the middle of the night on the way to the bathroom. Unexpected and uncomfortable and curse-inducing.
There's a lot to dislike about divorce, even in the best of circumstances, which I think we have. My ex and the kids and I have a meeting every three months to discuss various issues - schedules and calendars and jobs and meals and chores and school and whatever else. My ex and I are not together anymore, but there are some things that we continue to get right, and a unified parenting front is one of them.
The fact remains that I don't live with my kids.
But the fact remains that I don't live with my kids. I'm at the house several mornings and afternoons a week and pursue regular time with them. But. But. But there's always that time where I drop them off at their home and watch them go inside. Without me.
The worst part of divorce - if you have kids - is not learning to cook for one, or the identity crisis, or the moments of crushing loneliness and grief. Not the wondering and knowing and processing. Not the holidays or grief anniversaries or special occasions. It's not going places by yourself. It's watching your kids go inside the house without you.
I'd drop the kids off and burst into tears.
In the early days of this process, I would drop the kids off or leave the house and burst into tears. My friends Margaret and Chris were on my route home, and I found that - more often than not - my car turned onto their street. I would find myself parked in their driveway, hiccuping and sobbing. They had told me a couple of times that they were here for me anytime, and I took them literally. Two to three times a week, I would get out of my car and hiccup and sob in their living room. We would chat or eat or watch Netflix, or not. They absorbed me as part of their routine in the most comforting way.
There's a point at which you get to see the results of what you have been fighting for. When you change your diet and the cholesterol and blood sugar numbers go down (why yes, I *do* have experience with this, why do you ask?). Or when you beat your personal best in a sportsing thing. Or when your kid asks you to go hiking the next weekend.
I've always fought for the kids to go hiking with me.
I think that was the small thing. I have always fought for the kids to go hiking with me, making them through the whining and bellyaching and even yelling and fighting. The hill I died on - a small hill, but still a hill I was not willing to surrender. To spend that time walking and talking and away from distractions, surrounded by trees and fresh air and renewal, even in winter. There is no life without death.
The small thing in the caveat, "Not just Mt. Tabor, Mom, but a *real* hike." The kid who had been so angry with me, a deep, dark, swirling cauldron of rage, for so long. The conversations and the tears and the fighting. The moving and working through.
The signal that we have reached a plateau of some kind in this process. It is a steep climb. My leg muscles quiver and my lungs ache and my stomach growls. This part of the hike was *hard*.
But the view is amazing. Even through tears.
Do you have a divorce experience to share? Have you been shamed by a church because of your divorce? Or encouraged? There are hurting people who would like to hear your story, who need to know they are not alone, and who need to be encouraged. If you are interested in sharing your story, email Linda for guidelines: Linda@LindaMKurth.com
Free Resource Downloads
12 Steps to a More Joyful Life after Divorce
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50 Divorce Recovery Books and Blogs