Divorce and children. It does not always work out the way you think it will.
At every age, the challenges of guiding children through the throes of divorce can bring even the best parent down to his or her knees.
Let’s focus on teenagers today. Let’s talk about what they know and what they think:
1. They know more divorced people than you ever will. Face it. The longer they have been in school, the more of their friends have gone through divorces and are in alternative family relationships.
2. Children learn from other children how to manipulate parents to get what they want. The best weapon against this, of course, is communicating with the other parent.
3. Your children know the internet and social media better than you do.
4. Your children are listening in to your conversations that you think are private.
5. On the one hand, your children only want you to be happy. On the other hand, your children only want you to keep them happy.
6. Kids take sides. Sometimes, they take the side of the parent who “buys” them. Sometimes, they side with who they perceive is the emotionally needy or weaker parent.
7. Kids can take control of divorce. If your child every tells you he or she needs you to fight for him or her, get to a therapist and get him or her to a therapist. Divorce attorneys make the most money by parents who feel they need to fight for what their children want.
Hopefully, you are getting the message. When your child tells you that you are ruining his or her life, the damage has been long done.
Parent well. Parent early. Parent often. Get help early. Choose while you can choose to put your kids first, and then do what you do best: parent.