Contact: Dangerous Lee email@example.com 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
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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.
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