Contact: Dangerous Lee firstname.lastname@example.org Dangerous Lee Launches Tween/Teen Website SimplySenia.com FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Flint, MI- Dangerous Lee launches SimplySenia.com, a website featuring the artwork, photography, videos, school highlights, and book reviews of her 10 year old daughter, Senia, on September … Continue reading
With your spouse gone (whether you’re widowed or divorced), or if you never were married in the first place, it’s only logical that your children will occupy a larger portion of the “pie” (think pie chart) that is your life, … Continue reading
Do you feel alone? Or do you feel all one? OK—you’re on your own now. You may be on your own with the kids. Or without, if they’re living with your ex. There are a variety of “flavors” of being … Continue reading
If your kids are all teens or tweens, you may choose to skip this week’s column; this week I’m talking to parents of kids still young enough for bedtime stories. What I’m about to suggest is really applicable to all … Continue reading
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Does your frig look like this, or is it just mine?
- The Curious Attraction Of Refrigerator Magnets (webnerhouse.com)
As a solo parent, many of the issues you face have to do with your kids, naturally, but if you have parents of your own who live in your area, they too can present a problem, one that can even undermine your relationship with your kids.
I’m talking about parents who feel that, now that you’re divorced or widowed, they need to aggressively parent you again. Now, there’s nothing wrong with your parents giving you suggestions if suggestions is all that they are. Suggestions are just that, and you’re free to take them or leave them. But when your parents give you directions and try to run your life, not only are they interfering, but they can diminish you in the eyes of your children.
By infantalizing you, your parents not only chip away at your self-assurance but undermine your authority with your kids.
There are three ways women react to parents who try to micromanage their lives. Only one of these is healthy.
One is to argue and become resentful. This is certainly understandable, and it’s better than caving, but it doesn’t promote family harmony. From the kids’ point of view, Mommy and Grandma (or Grandpa) are arguing all the time and don’t get along at all. This neither models a healthy or positive relationship nor promotes respect in them for either you or your parents.
Another is to give in and let your parents take over your life. For the woman who never firmly established her independence, this behavior offers the line of least resistance. Not only does it avoid friction, but some widowed or divorced women, particularly those who leaned heavily on their husbands emotionally during the marriage, or those who were devastated by the divorce or death, may actually welcome this parental interference. They are glad to have their parents tell them what to do now, how to run their lives, how to handle their financial affairs, and how to cope with the kids. The problem, as far as the kids are concerned, is twofold: For one thing, they will see you as weak and not empowered or decisive, and they will have less respect for you. For another, it models a bad pattern of dependence in your adult years, giving them the wrong footsteps to follow in.
The healthy way is the hardest. This involves standing your ground firmly but quietly, without arguing, without becoming resentful or defiant, and simply saying, in whatever your choice of words, “Thanks Mom/Dad, but I’m grown now, and I’ll handle my own life. I don’t mind a little advice or a few suggestions, within reason, but I’m perfectly capable of being in charge of my life, myself, and my kids.”
Your parents, of course, are not likely to back down that easily. You will need to repeat the message to them any number of times before they become believers, and even then, you may need to reinforce the point from time to time. And that’s the best-case scenario. The worst-case scenario has them never accepting that you’re a grown woman who can handle her own life. In that case, life will be an ongoing struggle to maintain your independence. But it’s a hassle that’s worthwhile. In fact, more than worthwhile, it’s essential.
Why would parents fail to accept that you’re capable of running your own life? There are three usual reasons:
One is that, in fact, you’ve demonstrated that you’re not capable of making good decisions.
The second is that, even though you’re mature and sensible, you’re forced to rely on your parents for financial aid, and they feel this gives them the right to tell you how to live and even how to parent.
The third is that one or both of them has his/her/their own emotional needs that make it desirable for them to have you dependent on them. Perhaps they need to feel needed. Perhaps they need to feel that you’re still a dependent individual for some other psychological reason. It may be desirable to enter into therapy in that case—either with them or on your own. A psychologist can offer insights and coping methods that I, who am not not a trained counsellor, cannot. And if you undertake counselling together with them, the therapist can try to get at the root of your parents’ need to infantalize you and keep you dependent on them.
But hopefully it won’t come to that.
If, of course, you have demonstrated that you are not capable of making good decisions and parenting on your own, then the burden is on you to shape up and prove yourself.
And if the situation is that your parents are helping you financially and feel that gives them the right to make decisions for you and be directive, you may need to cut the purse strings that are tied to the apron strings and get by on less money in order to achieve your independence.
However it plays out, though, the important thing is that, without turning it into a fight or unpleasantness, you stand your ground as a mature individual, the head of your family unit, and capable of running your own life.
Then you’ll have a much more satisfactory life…and be a better model for your kids, too.
- When The Kids Think Your New Mr. Right Is All Wrong (dangerouslee.biz)
- Over-scheduling: Not A Substitute, But A Stressor (dangerouslee.biz)
- Solo Parenting – Plea Barganing (dangerouslee.biz)
- Other Kids Have Problems Too! (dangerouslee.biz)
- Don’t Get Caught Short By The Holidays (dangerouslee.biz)
- When is it Time to Start Dating Again? (dangerouslee.biz)
- Competing With “Uncle Daddy, The Ice Cream Man” (dangerouslee.biz)
- Back To School For Mom (dangerouslee.biz)
- Kids Aren’t Carrier Pigeons (dangerouslee.biz)
It’s fall, and your kids have probably gone back to school sometime in the last several weeks, whether “school” for them means pre-school, college, or somewhere in between. Now what about you? Have you thought of going back to school yourself? Improved employment opportunities are not the only reason for furthering your knowledge, and in fact some of what I’m about to suggest won’t help your employment or income potential one whit. Meeting your next husband—or at least someone nice to enjoy for a while—isn’t the only reason, either, but you never know who your classmates are going to be.
It may be too late to enroll in the fall semester…though not for all the suggestions I’m about to make…but it’s not a bit too early to start thinking of the next semester.
What are some of the reasons for taking anything from one class to a full courseload? (We’ll discuss the potential venues—where to go to seek out classes—in a minute. Let’s get to the reasons, first.)
1 – To increase your “hirability” or the income level you can command.
2 – To stimulate your mind and keep yourself thinking and learning and brain-active.
3 – To learn new things, just because they’re interesting, or because they’re helpful to you in aspects of your life that have nothing to do with your field of work. (For examples of what I’m talking about, think of self-defense classes, classes on cooking to fit a budget, or a course that will teach you some craft you’d like to learn.)
4 – To give yourself an opportunity to get out and meet new people…and not just other singles, though of course, that, too.
5 – To make yourself a more interesting person.
6 – To give yourself a reason to get out of the house, other than hitting singles bars or taking the kids to a movie.
Just what sort of classes are we talking about, and where are you going to find them?
• If there’s a college or university near where you live, you can think about going back to school and studying in earnest. Get that degree you never completed when you dropped out in your junior year, or get a different degree (say, a B.S. instead of the B.A. that hasn’t been particularly useful to you) or a more advanced degree (masters or doctorate). Or simply take individual courses that will increase your earning potential, even if they don’t lead to a degree.
• Many colleges and universities also offer courses that are intended to make you better-rounded, more knowledgeable, or possessed of better life skills. These courses may or may not help your income potential, may not be related to your field of work at all, or may be related only tangentially (for example, a course in public speaking, which could help you if your work requires that you sometimes address a group). There are classes in understanding politics better, classes in foreign languages, and classes in some fairly esoteric subjects. Colleges will usually also allow you to “audit” any of their regular degree-program courses that are not overly full of students already. Auditing involves studying without credit—you attend for the knowledge you can obtain, but the class doesn’t count toward any degree.
• Many communities, including the one I live in, offer evening courses for adults in their public schools. The subjects usually vary according to the people teaching the courses, and may run the gamut from wine-tasting to ballroom dancing, from conversational French to how to start a business, from parenting skills to defensive driving, from creative writing to working with stained glass. Of note: The local schools in my area have not yet even published their fall course offerings, and it is not too late—in fact, it is still too early—to register for the fall semester.
• Many towns and cities, again including the one I live in, also offer courses through their Leisure Services Department, Recreation Department, or some similarly named governmental entity. These are typically less expensive, though the spectrum of courses offered is usually fairly narrow.
• Some big cities have privately owned organizations (the Learning Annex is an example) that put together instructors and students. The instructors are generally responsible for making their own arrangements for a meeting place for the class, which may be anything from a classroom in a private school to a store with ample floor space to the living room of the instructor.
• Many public libraries offer classes, frequently on a literature-related topic (writing, book-binding, understanding the classics) but sometimes on topics far afield. Of note: These classes are likely to start in any given month, not concurrent with the local school semesters.
• Churches and synagogues sometimes offer classes, which are usually open to the public. Naturally they hope that persons who attend will become intrigued with the church or synagogue itself, but the subjects are not necessarily religion-oriented, and it is rare that any proselytizing takes place. These are more likely to be one-shot classes or four-week classes than to run an entire semester.
• Such organizations as the YMCA, JCC, and others that serve the community offer everything from swimming or fitness lessons to parenting classes. (If you’re finding the kids to be more than a handful for you, consider taking a parenting class—some organizations even gear their classes specifically to solo parents.) Best of all, some of these organizations offer babysitting, too. Bring the kids along and, for a nominal fee, the kids can work on crafts, enjoy gymnastics, or simply enjoy supervised play while you learn…without your having to worry that your babysitter will cancel and leave you unable to attend class.
So what do you say—are you ready to go back to school? Depending on the venue and on the individual course, the classes may be offered during the daytime, in the evenings, or on weekends. Find a course that’s timed conveniently for you, that interests you, and that is within your price range.
You might learn something new and useful, or at least new and interesting. You might make new friends. You might even meet a great new guy there. Start checking around for course offerings now.
Nobody likes a harsh sentence. Not convicted criminals…and not kids. And among the harshest sentences handed down to kids is, “I sentence you to live without one of your parents.”
Of course, it’s not phrased quite like that. The introduction may be, “Daddy and I have something to say to you,” if it’s being presented by a united (but about to disunite) front. The introduction may be, “Kids, I know change isn’t easy…” or there may be no preamble at all: “Kids, your father and I are getting a divorce.” Or the kids may come home from school one day to find half the closet empty in your bedroom, Dad’s belongings gone from their respective places throughout the house, and a large shock waiting for them when, stunned, they ask what’s happening.
But no matter how it’s introduced to them, the news is never received happily. And that’s when the bargaining starts.
Usually it’s a promise that things will be different if only Daddy will stay.
You see, kids tend to think their worlds revolve around them, and they don’t realize that the divorce is due to factors having nothing to do with them. What’s more, you and your about-to-be ex may have even said or done things that reinforced that belief.
Did either of you, in the midst of sibling warfare, or in the face of defiance on the part of your 10-year-old, ever scream, “I can’t take any more of this!”? It may even be that you were the one who proclaimed you’d reached the end of your rope, and he is the one who is moving out. No matter. The kids will put 2 and 2 together and get 7. They will still assume they drove Daddy away.
Did either of you reflect the increased tension in the household (which is common in the run-up to a decision to split) by yelling at the kids more frequently or more easily? If you and your husband have been having serious marital problems, or if, perhaps, you were already discussing the possibility of divorcing, it’s understandable that your tempers could be on edge, your patience frayed, and you’d be quick-triggered. In such circumstances, naturally you’ll “lose it” more readily when your kids fail to clean their rooms, or don’t do their homework, or do anything at all that upsets you. These quickened tempers and heightened tensions don’t go unnoticed by the kids and, once again, if a parent leaves—whether or not it’s the one who’s been doing most of the yelling—the kids will assume that they drove Daddy away.
This makes the “plea bargaining” understandable: “I’ll clean my room every day if Daddy will stay.” “Daddy, don’t go! I promise I won’t ever fight with Jeffrey again.” “I promise I’ll be good.”
You need to explain to them that, while you’d appreciate their cleaning their rooms, not fighting, and so on, that isn’t why Daddy is leaving…and that the divorce has nothing to do with them.
This is important because you don’t want the kids shouldering a burden of misplaced guilt. What a heavy weight to carry: “I made Daddy move out of our house.” Wrong. Untrue. And yet it’s exactly what they’ll be thinking. You need to intervene. You need to make sure they understand that they did not drive Daddy away.
Explain to them, in plain, simple, and direct language, that this was a matter between you two adults and had nothing to do with the kids, their behavior, their obedience, their attitudes, or anything else pertaining to them. You do not, of course, have to give them the actual reason for the divorce. If it’s something “adult” in nature such as infidelity, or an addiction problem, of course you’re not going to tell them. And if it’s simple incompatibility, nothing more, you can tell the kids that you and Daddy decided you would be happier not being married to each other anymore.
But you must stress that this will never happen between you and the kids, that even though you and Daddy no longer love each other, you will always both love the kids. The love of a parent for a child is special, and never goes away. Even on days when you are upset with them or angry with them, you still love them and will never stop.
They can’t “plea-bargain” Daddy into staying, but even though he is leaving the house, they will not lose his love; and no matter what they do to upset or annoy you, you will not leave them.
These are the messages you must be sure to deliver.