This abuse of power by the preteen should not be accepted. In a gentle way the child should be made aware thatthey do not have the power they think they have.For example, they cannot refuse to have a relationship with one of their parents (unless, of course, there is abuse involved). They should be expected to be civil and polite to both parents. At the same time, they should be assured that they still control their own feelings. Concrete examples mayhelp.Remindthem that even though Aunt Mary is bossy or Grandma is strict, they must still go on family visits; and they are expected to be polite. Even though they may not like a certain teacher, they should still show respect. They must continue to go to school and do their work.
They can, however, be given some control over minor aspects of their time with the other parent. For example, they could choose to bring a friend along, suggest activities to the other parent, call the other parent now and then, etc.
• Talk often with children at this age. They need to talk about the breakup and life after the breakup.
• Let children talk to each parent, and allow them to express their concerns, fears, and complaints. Listen with an open mind and don’t criticize children for the way they feel.
• They can understand a little about how the parents feel. It is okay to say that mom and dad do not agree about everything.
• Do tell them that mom and dad do agree about the children. Parents should work very hard to make those agreements happen. They should offer love and support to their children, and be a hero for the children.
• Inform the children’s doctors and teachers about changes to the family so that they can offer support from another source.
• Acknowledge children’s anger. Often, the children are most upset about the breakupitself. They yearn for theparents to get back together. If this is not going to happen, children should be told, clearly and with no doubt. Creating false hopes does not help children.
Controlling Conflict Exposure
Parents’ anger toward each other must be controlled. If their anger becomes violent, parentsmust separate and avoid contact until they learn control. Parents should minimize conflictin front of their children. Childrenlearn social skills bywatching conflicts get resolved. If parents can negotiate and compromise, goodsocial skills are learned. This can lessen the effect of the conflict.
Parents must allow the children to love the other parent. Encourage children to call or write letters. Help the children give the otherparent gifts on special days (birthdays, Christmas, Father’sDay, etc.)It also helps to say good things about the other parent in front of the children. Praise thatperson’s good qualities. In spite of your anger and sadness, at one time yousaw some good qualities. Yousaw enough good to want to marry or move in with this person. Surely some of thosequalities are still there. It is important that your children feel proud of both their parents.
Avoid making children “choose sides.” Most parents are not aware how often they do this.Trying to get children to side with you damages their relationship with the other parent. It leads to more stress and causes anger toward both parents.
Parents can take further training on how to reduce conflict and minimize damage to their children during a divorce through the Center for Divorce Education’s Children In Between program. Visit http://www.divorce-education.com
See the Problem Behavior Checklist for 9-12 Year Olds
For more parenting tips see http://www.divorce-education.com Parents can take further training on how to reduce conflict and minimize damage to their children during a divorce through the Center for Divorce Education’s Children In Between program.
See Part I, Part II, and PartIII: Parenting Infants and Preschoolers Through Separation or Divorce. See Part IV for Tips on Parenting Older School Age Children.
For more information about Online Parenting Courses please visit at online.divorce-education.com.