“Children of any age will feel reassured to know that mom and dad are still in charge and have control of what is going on.” This is a quote from a blog post written by my friend and collaborative colleague, Robin Watts. In her “We’ve Decided to Get a Divorce-When and How Do We Tell the Kids?” post on our
Denton County Collaborative Professionals group website delicately lays out the considerations for an appropriate talk with the kids about Mom and Dad’s divorce. I would recommend reading that post.
Of course, Robin is a counselor and spends a great deal of time with children in volatile situations, but her quote is spot on and applicable throughout the entire parenting process, whether in a divorce, post-divorce, or any co-parenting situation. Children do want, and need, their parents to act like adults and the ones in charge. They don’t need one or both parents acting childishly and immaturely out of control or like a spoiled, selfish brat.
But for various reasons, sometimes that parent who “demands” all the rights and time with the kids is the parent most out of control–yet, he/she doesn’t even see it!
Here’s an example of what I’m talking about: Well-to-do Dad and Well-to-do Mom are both professionals in their fields and doing very well financially. They share a couple of preteen kids. Both parents should be responsible, model citizens and parents. You’d think so, anyway! But Dad sometimes just cannot control himself (for various reasons that often come in a bottle). He gets teed off because Mom took the kids to an event Dad wanted to take them to, and Dad decides to terrorize Mom by vandalizing Mom’s property and invading her personal space.
Of course, you can imagine that the police are then involved and new court dates are set for various criminal and/or civil issues. Clearly, the parents are not in control, and my guess is that the kids know it. Moreover, they feel it!
Robin’s blog post speaks mainly to when to tell your children news of breakup or remarriage or some other significant event, but isn’t every day significant to our children? Don’t they deserve to have their parents in control each and every day?
I don’t think our children expect us to be superheroes (although that phase is fun while it lasts!), but they don’t want us in jail or losing our jobs, either.
So parents, reassure your children and show them gracefully how you’re in charge every day by getting along with the other parent and recognizing the other parent as also being in charge.